Common Sense Review
Updated May 2013

PBS KIDS PLAY!

This product is no longer available.
Customizable learning meets quality design and beloved PBS characters
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Common Sense Rating 5
Pros
Customizability and adaptability makes each kid’s experience specifically tailored to his or her needs.
Cons
Limited resources for extending learning offline.
Bottom Line
Solid, entertaining educational site that young kids will learn from and enjoy.
Mieke VanderBorght
Common Sense Reviewer
Researcher
Common Sense Rating 5
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

Much-loved PBS characters lead kids through entertaining games. With appealing visuals, fun prizes, videos, music, and a good mix of games and creative production tools, there's plenty to attract kids to this site.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 5

Games address an impressive variety of topics. Play is responsive with gentle guidance, positive feedback, and rewards for trying and completing games. Learning is an integral part of the experience, which adapts to kids’ individual needs.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Adults get lots of info about each game but little advice on bringing learning offline. Kids get clear directions and visual reinforcement of their progress. Customized leveling and variety make it accessible to kids with diverse needs.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers will want to take advantage of the customization capability that PBS KIDS PLAY! offers. Create an account for each student and use the progress reports or the site’s own recommendations to assign particular games that address each kid's learning needs. Teachers can also view level and time on task by subject to get an overview of how kids are doing in math, literacy, language, etc. Teachers can print tickets for each student that allow them to sign in to their account from home, so games can even be assigned as homework. Each activity has information about learning objectives and skills the activity addresses -- broken down by the three skill levels -- and can be searched by specific skill set. Teachers can use these features to accurately align activities to their students' learning needs.

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What's It Like?

Editor's Note: PBS KIDS PLAY! has closed and is no longer available.

PBS KIDS PLAY! is a virtual world in which kids play educational games with well-known PBS KIDS characters. Games and videos address a wide variety of skills from math, literacy, social studies, and science to healthy development, foreign languages, and creativity. Once signed in to their profile, kids explore their virtual “home” where they can choose to watch videos, listen to music, visit with their favorite characters, or play games. Games are organized by skill set or featured character, or kids can choose from site recommendations based on playing history or specific assignments from their teacher.

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Is It Good For Learning?

PBS KIDS PLAY! features typical PBS-quality, research-driven design of games and activities. What makes this site stand out is its capacity for customization. By creating individual accounts for each student, PBS KIDS PLAY truly becomes an individualized learning experience that adapts its level of difficulty according to each kid’s progress. For example, in a Curious George math game, kids help George match bakery items by shape, size, then pattern, first by a simple sorting task (level 1) and then by memory (level 2). Once they have mastered those levels, kids progress to level 3, where they practice estimation skills.

Teachers can access progress reports, or even assign specific activities to individual kids. There are opportunities to personalize the virtual home (for example, change accessories or add toys they've earned by successfully completing games) that help kids feel empowered and in control of their learning environment. Surprisingly, PBS KIDS PLAY! has few resources for bringing learning offline: Non-digital extensions are limited to one printout per game. Despite that shortcoming, PBS KIDS PLAY! is a solid, high-quality learning site.

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See how teachers are using PBS KIDS PLAY!

Lesson Plans