What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this science education site starring a plum-shaped alien and her human friends provides videos, games, and activity suggestions that parents and kids can do together to learn about nature and ecosystems. Kids don't have to register to play the site's nine games, unless they want to save the points they earn, which can be used to collect digital plant and animal profile picture stickers. Registration involves entering a username, keying in a randomly generated password, and picking a picture-based secret code.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- following directions
- using supporting evidence
Thinking & Reasoning
- applying information
- part-whole relationships
Engagement, Approach, Support
Kids can upload photos, and characters present facts and challenges. However, there are basically three identical types of games, tailored to each environment. Likewise, kids can watch a fair amount of videos -- but won't find an endless selection.
Scientific concepts are presented in a clear, interesting way, and characters express admirable excitement about nature. Games feature detailed instructions and facts; activities seem to cram in as much learning as possible.
Parents can view a few science activity ideas in English and Spanish; but there aren't too many. Educator activities and resources, which tie in to the Next Generation Science Standards developed by teachers from 26 states, are also available.
What's it about?
Plum Landing, based on the PBS Kids show, features Plum, from Planet Blorb, whose spaceship has crashed on earth. Plum's unbridled enthusiasm for nature is clear in site activities, which transport users to exotic locales. Kids can play games that involve identifying plants and animals and helping them grow in their natural environment; view animated and live-action videos, and get science-based activity ideas. Site content is geared toward 6- to 9-year-olds; the site also features science-related curriculum for after-school programs.
Is it any good?
PLUM LANDING, like several other PBS Kids sites, features videos, show information, and a few games. The content isn't too diverse -- in games, kids snap photos of animals and plants, maintain an ecosystem, or draw, and some contain repetitive elements; videos center on several general locales, including the desert, jungle, and mountains.
However, the site does a good job of conveying a significant amount of scientific information. Most video clips are a kid-friendly length -- typically less than five minutes -- and demonstrate theories well. Live-action segments, for example, involve environmental adventures like kids creating models that show how desert plans retain water and cleaning up trash to protect natural waterways. Some videos also illustrate concepts with kids' drawings.
Games offer detailed instructions, an impressive number of levels, and frequent animal and ecosystem facts. The narrator repeatedly pauses to explain potentially unfamiliar terms, and kids can repeat rounds, if they'd like to improve their performance. The amount of info and continued emphasis on kids learning-- not just seeing -- new facts about nature elevates Plum Landing beyond just a TV show's companion website.
Families can talk about...
Families can discuss sending photos to a website or posting them online. Plum Landing won't publish pictures with people in them. What privacy concerns might be involved with a site posting images of you or other people who happen to be nearby?
Users only have to submit a first name or nickname and age when they send an image. What other kinds of information -- like your e-mail address -- should kids be wary of sending when submitting something to a site for publication?
The site does a great job of explaining and illustrating how animal and plant ecosystems work. But how do we fit in the picture? Ask your child to identify three ways humans influence the food chain and environment.