Friday, September 25, 2009

Plundering PBS

I confess to being someone who wants kids to be allowed to be kids, not pushed into actvities they're not ready for. I love what the internet can offer parents and their children, but sometimes it's hard to find developmentally appropriate activities.

Do you remember I mentioned the vasty goodness that is PBS online in
a recent post? They have impressed me so far with the way their content and style are aimed at real kids, not some pseudo adult. Today, I checked out their latest offering, Dinosaur Train. Some activities there are perfect for pre-schoolers; others would suit slightly older kids who are fanatical about dinosaurs.

The Dinosaur Train website has games, videos, activities to print out, and lots of fun facts about dinosaurs. I love
How Big Are You?, the measuring activity that encourages estimation - about how many alligators are the same length as this dinosaur? Young kids will develop their mouse skills with Hungry Hungry Herbivore. The Field Guide has loads of fascinating facts for dinosaur fans to listen to, and they can click tabs to look at x-rays of dinosaur skeletons, or discover what their favourite dinosaur ate.

PBS KIDS Island is another great PBS offering. It's a nice interactive website with children's games that encourage reading and writing skills. You're encouraged to sign up. It's free, and there's a demo version you can try first, as well as a video tour. Sign up is quick and easy.

Like all good websites, this one encourages parental involvement. Games are cute, and aimed at the under 7 set. They cover activities like making words, rhyming and letter recognition, and involve characters like Grover and Elmo that many young kids will be familiar with. By completing part of the game, kids win "prizes" such as colouring pages and virtual toys that they can put inside their clubhouse.

There's also a reading activity calendar with great suggestions for kids that involve literacy, and tips for parents. I had trouble once getting some games to load on the actual island. Luckily I'd begun my review earlier, and discovered a page for parents which
lists all the games, and they worked fine. Next time I logged in to the island, the games loaded quickly.

If you're looking for something for your youngster to do online that will sneakily teach him too, try PBS KIDS Island and Dinosaur Train. They'll help kids develop literacy skills, as well as providing some fun.

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