Review by Christie Thomas, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2015

PeepandtheBigWideWorld

Pre-K science games, videos shine; related curriculum truly sparkles

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Pre-K-K This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Here’s a pre-K site with top-notch science units and teacher support, along with kid-friendly learning games and animated videos.

Cons: Clearer vocabulary, activities that progress through levels, and weeding out a few “meh” offerings could move the games from good to great.

Bottom Line: Let students dabble with games and videos; be sure to dive all-in to the science curriculum and teacher support.

Find the full Peep curriculum and simply dive in. Gathering materials (plastic containers, leaves) will take time, but Peep’s done the lesson planning for you: 1-2 hours of science instruction daily, for units on color, plants, ramps, shadows, sound, and water. Recognize that –- with computer games -- some kids will need extra help manipulating a mouse or track pad. Point families to the Parents pages for at-home-science tips and print Family Science Handouts for backpack mail. As you can, fit some Peep professional development into your day. The site masterfully supports great early-education science teaching. Skim “The Peep Approach” (in Teaching Strategies) and peruse the videos highlighting areas like science talk and individualized instruction. PD is designed for both center-based (preschool) or family-care (in-home) educators. If you’re really into it, try the self-guided training handout or look into facilitating a session for your colleagues (resources provided by Peep!).

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Peep and the Big Wide World is a science-focused website showcasing pre-K games and videos along with impressive resources for teachers and parents. Quick links along the top of the homepage take visitors to short games, videos (nine-minute Peep episodes), and the Parents and Educators pages. The for-kids stuff can also be found by scrolling down and browsing the resources by topic. This view also lists relevant live-action clips, each of which are just 90 seconds long.

From the Parents page, families can skim through the “Anywhere Activities,” spot-on suggestions for science-related “things to do” with youngsters. Educators will find a full curriculum for six 3-week units (circle time, learning centers, guided activities). The site also provides professional development around four “Teaching Strategies” using short exemplar videos.

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Peep’s games and videos are all learning-oriented -- and they'll be fun for most kids. Still, reaching learning targets with this (quite young) audience isn’t a guarantee. A game like “Paint Splat” becomes about making Quack jump on paint tubes (and giggling when Chirp gets soaked by the hose) for pre-K students who just aren’t able to systematically explore color mixing on their own.

When used in conjunction with the site’s pre-K science curriculum, however, learning potential explodes! Now, “Paint Splat” has meaning from class activities about color. Likewise, “Watch and Discuss” lessons provide conversation prompts that morph silly Peep episodes into meaningful opportunities for pre-K kids to puzzle over science phenomena (sinking and floating). This is no surprise to educators. What may (happily) surprise you, though, is how well Peep’s units and resources weave the connections for you.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

Your 3-5’s will be riveted (and even older kids will be engaged) by animated videos and learning games where distinct tasks match short attention spans. A coordinating curriculum will turn science time into the highlight of any pre-K day.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Science lessons masterfully include open-ended questions and exploration. Videos and games instruct and allow practice, but game narration could better expand vocabulary (e.g., “orange” vs. “this color").

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Simple tasks with clear (and repeated) directions make games appropriate for wee ones, and an entire Spanish version expands the audience. Still, an easy “help” button and “tips” could allow for more user independence.


Common Sense Reviewer
Christie Thomas Classroom teacher

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