PBS KIDS has launched a site with tons of new apps for kids age two to eight with the goal of building upon and improving math skills.
The games revolve around well-known PBS KIDS characters, including Sid the Science Kid, Curious George, The Cat in the Hat, and the crew from The Electric Company. However, PBS KIDS Lab is not just an aggregate site. It is a cross platform destination where kids can access the games both at home and at school through mobile devices, tablets, interactive whiteboards, or computer.
Currently there are over 40 games which can be sorted by age, skill, and device. The Home Activities link offers parents various strategies for helping their kids learn, while Classroom Activities link helps teachers develop math skills through hands-on activities.
Current research shows that children's understanding of concepts are strengthened when they interact with two or more media, whether that's playing an online game, watching a video, or interacting with it on a whiteboard. This is the way PBS KIDS Lab operates.
"PBS KIDS Lab is built on the belief that every new technology is an opportunity for learning," said David Lowenstein, Senior Director for Ready to Learn at PBS during a recent conference. Games are offered on several platforms including interactive whiteboards and IOS devices. However, a variety of newer technologies are planned to be used, including Augmented Reality (AR) games that take parts of a real-world environment and layer computer generated images or sounds on top of the physical world. In other words, the computer duplicates the world's environment to enhance the user's perception of the virtual world they are seeing or interacting with on screen.
PBS KIDS Lab is the place where kids can go to test out the latest games and apps from PBS KIDS. Throughout the course of the next year, the PBS Interactive team hopes to create a progress tracker that will allow parents to see what skills in which games their kids have mastered.
"We work with current researchers to build a curriculum framework that aligns all of our content to state and national standards," said Lowenstein. The team also spends time with parents and educators to learn more about the devices that are available at home and in school, what supplemental resources work best, and how learning can be both fun and interactive.
PBS KIDS Lab also gives an inside look into the process the development team takes when creating these games, taking viewers behind the scenes with the producers, writers, and game developers for the various series and giving an up-close into the how stories and games are created.
David Lowenstein also mentioned that PBS KIDS Lab team is working to create "open ended play" that allows kids to create rather than consume. "We want to give kids the tools to create a story or some other media creation on their own." Overall, the lab will pull back the curtain on the process for bringing fun, educational content to kids.
Be sure to look around the site, try out a game or two with your kids, and come back often for new launches and updates.