Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2014
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Sesame Street S'More! The Digital Magazine for Kids

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Engaging themed content, but tech and design issues hamper smooth play

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Character & SEL

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Math
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Pre-K-K
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Pros: A variety of learning themes and approaches engage students; discussion starters extend learning.

Cons: Technical issues and unsophisticated game design can interfere with learning.

Bottom Line: Current issues display typical Sesame Street fun and strong content, but poor digital application can make play frustrating. Hopefully future issues will make better use of technology.

Use the magazine's central topic as a springboard for an in-class learning unit. "Love and Friendship," for example, can inspire discussion and activities about feelings, family, helping others, and other socioemotional topics. Read the stories and do the activities in the magazine as a class and use the discussion starters to extend learning. Each issue also touches on a lot of learning themes beyond the main topic, many of which relate to Common Core standards. Games and activities explore letters, numbers, and other academic (and non-academic) topics. Align class projects with topics presented in the magazine. Make it a v and number 1 week when the current issue is "brought to you by the letter v" and Count Dracula introduces the number 1, for example. Supplement with relevant Sesame Street videos (find many at SesameStreet.org) and do off-screen games and activities that reinforce learning, using the parent suggestions as a guide. 

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Sesame Street S'more! The Digital Magazine for Kids is a bimonthly subscription-based magazine that offers games and activities loosely tied to a central theme. For example, the "Love and Friendship" issue includes poems and stories about loving pets, family, and friends, and a feature on how to say hello in different languages. In addition, a variety of learning games focus on letters, numbers, matching, colors, and more. Each themed issue mght include games, stories, language arts activities (write words that start with the letter v), drawing tools, maps, and pictures. Every activity is clearly described on the audio track. The parent section includes tips for extending the learning themes in each activity group.

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A variety of interactive activities and the opportunity to interact with Sesame Street characters engage young kids. Sesame Street is a respected name in educational media, most of the time deservedly so, but the wonders of the TV show haven't transferred well to the digital format here. The overall theme of the issue feels lost among the many letter, number, and color games, for example. Some activities use the digital format well, such the game in which kids learn to say hello in different languages and then record their voices practicing the new words. Yet, overall, most game designs could take better advantage of the availability of touchscreen technology. And some technical and design issues get in the way of smooth play: Response time sometimes lags, audio tracks double up on each other, and the simplicity of the games may feel too babyish even for preschoolers. Sesame Street does come through with great learning extensions, however. The parent section offers nice jumping-off points for further discussion. In fact, adding even more of those would beef up the learning potential. 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Lots of familiar Sesame Street characters introduce a variety of interactive games and stories. Slow reaction time and babyish look and game design might get frustrating.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

In typical Sesame Street fashion, games, books, and activities cover a wide variety of learning topics, both traditional and non-traditional, including counting, spatial orientation, memory, and cultural awareness.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Kids collect badges as they complete various activities. Adults can read suggestions for discussion to bring learning off-screen. Ease of use and comprehensive audio instructions make games and activities highly accessible.


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