Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2017


One-stop shop for a wealth of fantastic PBS KIDS educational content

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies

  • Communication & Collaboration
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Easy, one-stop access to the high-quality design and extensive resources available from PBS KIDS websites.

Cons: So much variety can be overwhelming; kids will need guidance and direction to access specific topics and games.

Bottom Line: Amazing collection of valuable learning resources covers an impressive array of topics.

Teachers will want to spend some time exploring PBS KIDS to discover all it has to offer. They can use the site to assign games from specific shows as extensions or explorations of topics recently covered in the classroom, or consider using the sites as prerequisites for participating in class activities. For example, require kids to get a Webonauts diploma for media literacy before using computers in the computer lab. Games and videos can serve as springboards for class discussion and further exploration.

Because PBS KIDS is mostly a directory site for many other sites, teachers will either need to be very specific about which games they want their students to play (and then monitor them) or allow kids to explore games around a general topic. Doing a unit on math? Let kids play around on CyberChase. Kids can save their high scores and favorite games, but real performance tracking is limited, so teachers should not plan on using the site to assess performance.

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PBS KIDS is a directory for roughly 20 TV and Web-only PBS KIDS shows designed for older preschool and elementary-aged kids. From PBS KIDS kids can navigate directly to a particular show’s individual site, where they'll find games, videos, and other related content. Kids can also watch video clips, sign in to their Secret Box to track scores, save favorites, and store creations, or make cartoons in the cartoon studio.

Games match learning content to their companion show, so topics are as varied as the PBS KIDS lineup. For instance, Wild Kratts games address science and animals; Webonauts, media literacy; Eco World, environment and ecology; Design Squad, engineering; and Fetch, science and problem-solving. There are also games, activities, and videos for music, girl power in science, cultural understanding, critical thinking, American history, culture, and geography, as well as pre-teen social-emotional and personal issues such as friends, family, emotions, body, and money.

As a directory site, PBS KIDS gathers a wealth of content in one central location. Each individual PBS KIDS show is supported by specific learning goals, developed with expert advice and often tested to demonstrate effectiveness. With educational activities, creation tools, plenty of suggestions for extending learning offline, and lots of fun, the PBS KIDS sites are rich with learning potential.

The downside is that PBS KIDS could use more structure, as kids might easily get distracted. The site would be stronger if, for instance, it included better progress assessments and a clear listing of all the learning topics available.

Overall Rating

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

With the vast selection of videos and games, kids will be hard-pressed not to find something that excites them. However, too many choices can be overwhelming, and kids risk wandering around the site without direction or purpose.

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

More than 230 games touch on topics like math, science, and even engineering and media literacy. Some games are rich with learning content and some are more for fun, but all boast typical PBS high-quality design and learning approach.

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

Each PBS show page includes a wealth of support information, including learning goals, printables, and suggestions for offline activities. Games have good instructions, and kids should find something that suits their learning needs.

Teacher Reviews

(See all 16 reviews) (16 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Sandra T. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Gibsonville Elementary School
Gibsonville, United States
Students have lots of options.
Overall, the PBSKids is a good option for teachers. for some students, the options can be overwhelming, and they have difficulty making a choice of learning or game activities. For young, and non readers, the options are wonderful. For EC and some non readers, the videos are a happy choice for all. I find that older students and accomplished readers tend to opt for programs other than PBSKids.
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