Common Sense Review
Updated July 2014

PBS Kids: Plum Landing

Web games, outside adventures offer in-depth tour of Earth’s ecosystems
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Kids learn about investigating nature at this companion site to the TV show.
  • Cartoons, games, and lesson plans aid investigations.
  • Content is organized into thematic pathways.
  • Excerpts from Plum Landing cartoons are included in the lessons.
  • Lesson plans help groups of students explore their world.
Hands-on investigations help kids explore the world around them and build scientific understanding.
Alignment to the Next Generation of Science Standards leaves a bit to be desired.
Bottom Line
Student-directed investigations and outdoor extension activities elevate Plum Landing beyond just a companion site for the TV show.
Emily Pohlonski
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Though lacking much variety, games are captivating for kids. Cartoons are funny, but real engagement lies in the outdoor activities and scientific investigations.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Investigations, games, and videos are woven together so kids can learn in a variety of ways. Better alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards could help teachers find more ways to implement the resources in class.

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

Lesson plans provide clear directions, and videos demonstrate the lesson being taught with actual students. Extension activities are provided for each pathway.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

PBS Kids: Plum Landing is not designed for traditional learning settings, but can be used as a supplemental resource for classroom teachers. Afterschool pathways are already set up as one-hour standalone sessions. Many of these could easily be done in a single class period. The Club Pathways are set up for five one-hour sessions. This could be adapted for a one-week science session or spread out over a longer period of time in classrooms that only do science once or twice a week.

Some videos, like the one included in the Sound Safari Introduction, help teachers see examples of how the lesson might work. Be aware, however, that showing this to kids in advance of the activity may direct students in a very narrow way. These introductory videos are probably best used for teachers, only because they may remove some of the student inquiry from the task.

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What's It Like?

PBS Kids: Plum Landing is a free environmental-science website that encourages students to love -- and become curators of -- our planet. Through videos, games, and outdoor lesson plans, kids learn about such topics as adaptation, biodiversity, ecosystems, food webs, and water. Each educational theme has been structured into a specified pathway. Pathways are designed for science clubs, summer programs, or afterschool groups, but can also be adapted for traditional classroom use.

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Is It Good For Learning?

PBS Kids: Plum Landing has a well-balanced combination of digital and real-world activities that lend themselves well to kids' scientific learning. In Roots and Shoots, kids build models of plants using sponges to look at adaptations for conserving water. This activity is fun and clearly addresses the concepts of adaptation and structure & function. The site also includes games like Feed the Dingo that are fun, challenging, and push kids to look for patterns to figure out things for themselves.

While Plum Landing's pathways have been linked to the Next Generation Science Standards, the lessons themselves aren't always well aligned to the Disciplinary Core Ideas. Sound Safari is linked to three different Disciplinary Core Ideas, none of which match the learning goals about animal sounds. The lesson is also linked to Structure and Properties of Matter; these ideas could use a deeper examination. While better alignment would better support teachers, overall the site offers kids a new and exciting perspective from which they can explore their world.

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See how teachers are using PBS Kids: Plum Landing

Lesson Plans