PBS KIDS PLAY! Website Poster Image




Educational site entertains and teaches.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn an array of math, literacy, self-care, science, and social studies skills. Game topics align with the theme of each featured PBS Kids show (for example, Super Why! games are about the power of reading). They can also learn about screen time limits; the site comes with an internal timer for parents to set that freezes play and asks for a password to continue. PBS KIDS PLAY! is a fun, welcoming environment with something instructive or creative embedded in every activity. 

Positive messages

Kids are given positive reinforcement each time they graduate to the next level in a game and get a "reward" that they can keep in their treasure box. Even if they don't advance, they get a star for trying.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

Subscriptions are $9.95 a month or $79 annually, with a 15-day free trial period. There's also an obvious tie-in to PBS and its characters.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this non-commercial site suits a range of developmental ages. Kids don't need to know how to read: All of the instructions are said in voice-over. For the youngest kids, there's shape and color identification. Older kids get early reading and arithmetic skill readiness. The activities adapt based on a kid's progress, so kids don't get stuck playing the same game over and over. Also, there are time-out features so kids don't overdo it (we don't recommend preschoolers surf without parents). Subscriptions are $9.95 a month, $49 for six months, or $79 annually after an initial free incentive period.

What's it about?

PBS KIDS PLAY! is an educational hangout for kids age 3-6 that uses PBS TV characters (Curious George, Mama Mirabelle, The Berenstain Bears, and more) to teach. Through the multi-leveled games, kids can learn a number of age-specific things. There's also a place to customize their room and collect their favorite things around the sites. Parents have to pay a monthly or annual fee.

Is it any good?


PBS KIDS PLAY! benefits kids and parents -- kids obviously learn things and parents can get reports of their kid's progress, set a computer time limit, and easily get information about the learning goals for each game. Yes, it's easy for a kid to get hooked on the cheery site but that's OK in this case: The bold colors, friendly environments, and familiar cartoon faces all make learning fun. And what kids learn -- from matching ingredients in a recipe to identifying objects by color to basic computer and mousing skills -- are all age-appropriate. The limited amount of games is the site's biggest drawback, but updates happen every week so the amount of things to do will increase. The best part: The site keeps track of a kid's progress, and games have three levels; each teaches kids more advanced concepts.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what age is right to use a computer and what are healthy computer habits to get into.

  • They can also explore why kids like to play games with favorite TV characters.

Website details

Subjects:Science: animals, plants
Social Studies: cultural understanding, geography, global awareness
Math: arithmetic, counting, measurement, numbers, patterns
Language & Reading: letter or word recognition, phonics, reading, spelling, vocabulary
Arts: music, rhythm
Skills:Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, decision-making, prediction, problem solving
Emotional Development: identifying emotions, labeling feelings, perspective taking
Creativity: making new creations
Pricing structure:Free to Try, Paid

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Great handpicked alternatives

  • Loads of super educational games and activities.
  • Simple and safe; a great first site for preschoolers.
  • PBS puts preschool shows online. (Take that, Hulu.)

What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byalexander matias June 21, 2009
Teen, 14 years old Written byjonnypants23 April 9, 2008

Good website for toddlers.

My brother plays this website and he relly likes it.
Parent of a 3 year old Written byeyrieowl January 1, 2010

excellent educational resource for 3+

I think this is pretty wonderful. Yes, it's not free, but I hardly think that promotes consumerism. The fact that I'm paying for it is completely not on my daughter's radar, so I don't understanding dinging it for that. And of course it uses the PBS characters, but it never feels like they are trying to sell my daughter anything. The use of the PBS characters helps to get her interested, so I think it's a plus. Sometimes you have to pay for quality products, and I feel this is quality. In the short time my daughter has been using this software, she's been very engaged, and she has noticeably improved in several of the skill areas that the site focuses on. I'm very keen on the parents section where we can see a progress chart of how she is progressing in a variety of areas as well as activities that we can encourage her to work on. It doesn't replace "real-world" activities, but it's a pretty darn good supplement.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages


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