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Last Saturday Mike and I took the kids on a very cool field trip to Boston’s WGBH public broadcasting offices to learn about some of the great educational software that is available through PBS! PBS has a huge range of apps available – some free and some for purchase – if you own an iPad. We don’t so I was happy to see that they have a few apps (most notably PBS Parents Play and Learn) that will work on nearly any device – Windows phones were the missing link that I found. You can easily navigate all the apps that are available through the PBS KIDS mobile site. Johnny is playing Dinosaur Train Jurassic Jr. (not a free app) on an iPad in the photo above.


My favorite thing that we learned about was the PBS KIDS Lab – a website where you can try out all the games that PBS is working on through a ready to learn grant! My favorite was the webcam-operated Monkey Jump. I’m not sure which game Mike and Johnny are playing in the photo above, but Mike is at least as into it as Johnny!

My kids very rarely play computer games – I love keeping them unplugged so that they will play outside and create wonderful imaginative worlds together. But every once in a while educational computer games are fun, and I do think kids can learn a lot from them. I learned most of my math facts through computer games, and I type super-fast thanks to a typing game!

Have your kids tried out any of the PBS KIDS games – either on the computer or through a smartphone or tablet? Do you have a favorite?

Do your kids play games on your computer or tablet or phone? What role does technology play in your home?

MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

18 thoughts on “PBS KIDS Lab!”

  1. Looks like fun! The kids have played PBS games before. We use the iPad for school. Makes it so nice with all the educational apps out there!

  2. WOW, what an awesome activity. My kids used to play the PBS games, but not much anymore. We don’t have an iPad or iPhone, or any type of tablet or smartphone so that’s out for us.

    I guess we are not much of an app family, sadly.

    Perhaps now that I read your post, we will get on the computer and play some of those.

    Everything I know, I learned from MamaSmiles, Artchoo and Pragmatic Mom!

    Thanks for the ideas!

  3. Elisa | blissfulE

    The main role technology plays in our home is the research and acquisition of homeschool materials for my kids. My oldest (6yrs) has done EPGY math and music theory (which is only available online in our area) on our laptop. She loved it, but I didn’t love how she wanted to spend so much time on them (nor do I enjoy the chronic updates needed for the WIndows machine I let her use). She’ll do the second level of music theory when she finishes the preparatory workbook, but we’re taking a break from EPGY for now so the kids can all do (Saxon) math together.

    My feeling is that my kids will quickly absorb technology when they are exposed to it – I certainly did – and it’s better late than early in our house due to the time/money constraints of four kids wanting to work on a computer or tablet at the same time.

    1. Windows updates can be very time consuming! Is the music theory program you use an Australian one? Is it available outside of Australia?

      1. Elisa | blissfulE

        Yes, the music theory we use is Australian https://www.amebexams.edu.au/

        The Australian Music Education Board (AMEB) has online courses to prepare http://www.amebtheory.edu.au/ but what Nikki’s teacher recommends is using the How to Blitz! workbooks by Samantha Coates http://blitzbooks.com.au/ and then purchasing the exam. After you purchase an exam, you get an unlimited number of practice exams prior to taking the real one. http://www.ameb.edu.au/content/online-exams

        I don’t know if AMEB exams are available outside Australia – somehow I doubt it – but there must be an equivalent in the US. ??

        1. The US doesn’t have a music curriculum the way Australia and the UK do, and as a result there isn’t anywhere near the pedagogical structure you get in the those countries – just different individual schools (and the one I am most interested in makes it very hard to get your hands on their curriculum, if you aren’t lucky enough to live close to and sign up for one of their official schools).

  4. My new laptop will be arriving in about a week and I am so excited. I’m planning to turn the old one into the girls homeschool computer. They won’t have unlimited access but there really are some great educational games out there. We love the Starfall and Sesame Street games at the moment.

  5. How fun! Yes our girls do use technologies in our home, they are fast learner and sometime help me figure some tech things out lol!

  6. My mom bought J a Leap Pad for Christmas. The games are so expensive that I had to research games. We found one that worked with the states of matter to move a water glob around a maze. It’s called Splurgle. Our tablet and phones have Dr. Seuss books for J, some puzzles, and matching games. I’m all for learning games. J gets a little bit of time during the week to play with our technology. What’s interesting is that it’s super intuitive for him.

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