PBS KIDS Lab
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that PBS KIDS Lab is the debut point for their newest games as well as a window into their research and other behind-the-scenes information. Many games are flexible across devices; if it's labeled "online game," "mobile," and "interactive whiteboard" it can be played all three of those ways, but parents can and should check the game descriptions. To play a mobile game, parents will need to download a free app to a mobile device and possibly lend their phone or tablet to their 3- to 8-year-old to play. Interactive whiteboard games are effective for teachers to use in their classrooms but some can also be played online.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- letter or word recognition
Engagement, Approach, Support
Plenty of fun, creative, and innovative games will grab, and hold on to, kids’ attention. Familiarity with beloved PBS Kids characters may make the games more exciting but is not necessary to enjoy the site to its fullest.
Research-backed games target a variety of math and language arts topics. Age and skill filters assist in finding the right game to address kids' learning needs. Difficulty gradually increases as kids progress through the games.
Games have detailed instructions and often have help for kids struggling to find the correct answer. Progress reports, or some sort of central data collection that tracks progress through the activities, would be a nice addition.
What's it about?
PBS KIDS Lab targets very young kids so parent involvement is necessary. Filters let users choose games by skill, age, device, or show so parents can pick based on what kids need to learn or like to do. Online and interactive whiteboard games are generally played on the computer. Mobile games require downloading an app. Augmented reality games are special types of mobile games where kids use a smartphone's camera to answer questions. Game descriptions include a learning goal and explain how the game can be played and with what device.
Is it any good?
PBS KIDS Lab is funded by a Ready to Learn grant from the U.S. Department of Education, which requires PBS to do research on their games' effectiveness. As a result, kids get to play creative, innovative, and really fun games that teach skills they need to be successful in school. The game developers "get" kids and how they learn; for example, FETCH! LUNCH RUSH requires kids to add, subtract, run around, and take pictures with a smartphone to complete a task. Kids will want to play these games and not just because they involve beloved TV characters (Curious George, Sid the Science Kid, and the like) or because they get to use Mom's cell phone. One small navigational point -- the site is a hub, so opening a game takes users to another website without a direct return link; they'll have to click their way back to "the Lab."
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about managing kids' use of high-tech devices before parents hand over the smartphone or tablet.
Lots of kids love PBS' educational programming, but the development of new online games and apps means more screen time. Learn the signs of addiction to computer games and mobile apps and set screen time limits for your kids. Read Common Sense Media's Setting Computer Time Limits and Managing Your Preschooler's Fascination with Apps.