A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Peep and the Big Wide World is an educational math and science site for preschool-age children that offers a number of additional resources to help adults reinforce what kids are learning. In addition to videos for parents that contain tips on building kids' language skills and helping them use media and technology, the site also features at-home activity ideas from a teacher specializing in early childhood science and animated dance routines that emphasize physical fitness. There's no objectionable content to be found.
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What's it about?
The PEEP AND THE BIG WIDE WORLD website is based on the animated/live-action series of the same name, which is geared toward preschoolers and narrated by actor Joan Cusack. In the show, a newly hatched chick, Peep, helps explain science and math concepts. Peep’s friends, Chirp and Quack (a robin and a duck, respectively), also partake in lesson-based adventures. The site offers a number of math and science games, videos, and activities, along with at-home activity ideas.
Is it any good?
This educational website does a nice job of showcasing math and science concepts such as patterns and counting, using visual examples in games and animated characters' adventures. Some activities also offer a bonus lesson, such as a matching game that demonstrates animal habitats. Kids also receive frequent instruction while they're playing, and they can often try again if they make a mistake. The site was recently retooled to feature a Spanish-only language option and additional resources for parents, which are top-notch; public broadcasting station WGBH in Boston also conducted a study to evaluate the site's impact on children and their families. There are only a few minor tweaks that could make the site a bit easier to use -- individual videos, for example, don't include much description, aside from a title. They're grouped by topic on the home page, but including more information with each game could help parents determine which would be best for their child's specific learning needs, especially if they're accessing clips from the video section of the site. Games also don't contain much written information, although parents can find brief descriptions in the About Peep section.
The site was created for preschoolers age 3 to 5; older kids may also benefit from some of the games, but they'll need to have the patience to make it through all initial levels. Ideally, there'd be a way for kids to easily skip to advanced levels and more information about which games relate to which videos; even without it, younger kids should be able to learn a number of helpful math and science basics from these Web pages.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how watching videos that explain math concepts can be helpful, instead of reading about them in a textbook. Which method does your child find easier to understand?
Watch a few videos together and then challenge your child to write and solve a problem. Does your child think that's easier or harder to do after watching the videos?
Talk about your child's favorite school subjects and how you can research them to learn more. Take a trip to your local library or conduct an online search to show your child how to find more information on a topic.
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