PBS KIDS launches Play & Learn App

playPBS KIDS has launched PBS Parents Play & Learn, its first app designed specifically for parents to help them build early math and literacy skills for children 4 and under.  The app provides interactive activities to help parents turn everyday tasks into learning opportunities. PBS Parents Play & Learn is available for FREE for iOS, Android, and now on Google Play and on the NOOK Store.

The app provides more than a dozen games parents can play with their kids, each themed around a familiar location, including the grocery store, restaurant or home. The app not only provides games, but gives parents advice on adapting these games in real-life settings and the option to receive push notifications with more tips for building skills. The app divides activities into three stages: baby, toddler and preschool.

Celebrating 50 Years of Clifford and His Big Ideas

IMG_0093To celebrate Clifford the Big Red Dog’s 50th anniversary, WGBY held a January birthday party for 80 Clifford fans at the YMCA of Greater Springfield.  Before the celebration, children helped to make a BIG Clifford birthday card that you can view for a while on WGBY’s website.  Among the party festivities, children wore red Clifford ears that they made, listened to a story about Clifford and his owner, Emily Elizabeth, and danced to his lively theme song.  The pre-schoolers also viewed an episode of the big, red, loveable dog that helped them learn the importance of how to “Work Together,” one of Clifford’s 10 Big Ideas.

At Clifford’s parent and educator site, you’ll find lots of activities, many built around his big ideas, such as a Heart Stamp to learn how to “Be a Good Friend,” a Handy Reminder to remember to “Be Responsible,”and Share-a-Sock Puppets to practice how to  “Share.”  In addition, a Guide to Online Activities provides printable hints for each activity and game on the Clifford site to help you help a child get the most from the experience!

All children can celebrate Clifford’s birthday with their families by watching “Clifford’s Really Big Movie,” which will air on WGBY in February!

Extending the School Day and Year

Over 1,000 public schools across the United States have lengthened the time that students spend in the classroom and after school.  The New York Times reports that in the 2012-13 academic year, five states will be adding a total of 300 hours to the calendar, and in the next three years, forty more schools will be adding time to the school day as well as after school.

Coordination and support of the extended learning initiative comes from state education officials, the National Center on Time and Learning, a nonprofit research and advocacy group; and the Ford Foundation, whose president expressed the need “’for creating a learning day that suits the needs of our children, the realities of working parents and the commitment of our teachers.’”

Children targeted are those underperforming students who need to catch up academically and  experience more enrichment activities.   Those in favor of the initiative add that these high-need students, with less structured after school time, lack extracurricular activities often enjoyed by more privileged classes.  On the other hand, some in teachers’ unions  argue for fair compensation for teachers and believe that adding time on learning is inadequate to address the problems at hand.

Even some local schools in Greenfield, Springfield, and Holyoke have either already extended the school day or are thinking about doing so in the future.  Read the latest in a recent Masslive.com article.

As a teacher, please let us know your thoughts about the benefits and/or the disadvantages of extending the school day and year.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Premieres!

If you love Fred Rogers and his life’s work on behalf of children, families and educators, then you’ll be delighted that Daniels Tiger’s Neighborhood, the new preschool series inspired by the classic Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, will premiere on Monday, September 3, at 11:00am and 1:30pm on WGBY.

The program features Daniel, the son of Daniel Striped Tiger, as a shy but brave and imaginative four-year-old tiger who lives in the Neighborhood of Make Believe with the next generation of original characters from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.  Each episode integrates music and includes two stories that focus on common early learning themes.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood interactive website features educational online games and activities such as a ride through the Neighborhood of Make Believe on the always popular Trolley.   At its teachers’ site you can watch a premiere, meet the characters and see the show’s learning goals.  The parents’ site also offers great resources, including Fred Roger’s Timeless Wisdom.

PBS Parents Feature: Grocery Shopping with Arturo Trejo

PBS Parents has shared this great resource for parents on tips for grocery shopping with kids.

Okay… so maybe all of his tips aren’t gems. But we thought our parents out there could use a good laugh! If you’re looking for real ways to survive the grocery store, check out these Supermarket Explorer reading and math games that can be printed out and played while you shop.  The PBS Parents Eat Smart site is also full of great ideas that encourage a love of healthy food.

Technology aids student-teacher-parent communications

From e-School News, by Laura Devaney, Managing Editor —

“Connecting in the 21st Century,” a report from Project Tomorrow and Blackboard Inc., based on data from Project Tomorrow’s 2010 Speak Up survey, reveals new information about the way parents, students, and teachers communicate with one another. It identifies as a key trend the “growing need for more effective, timely, and targeted communication between the school and home.”

The report addresses key issues such as:Kids and Technology

  • Do administrators recognize the value of effective communication with parents as a key factor for improving student outcomes?
  • How are schools and districts tapping into emerging technologies to connect with parents?
  • Do parents have different expectations today regarding information they receive from their child’s school?
  • How are teachers leveraging technology tools to instruct and provide feedback to students?
  • Do parents’ perceptions on the efficacy of school-to-home communications have any relationship with their attitudes regarding their child’s school?

As one would expect, the results point directly to the critical need for good school-to-home communications and how today’s technology can help accomplish that goal.  Read the full post for the full story.

CYBERCHASE Resource Set on the connection between Math and Sports

Kids love sports, and sports are rich with opportunities to use numbers, find patterns, and diagram winning strategies – important math skills on which you can build.

This resource set will allow you to explore the math in the episodes while having fun working with kids.  These materials are great for teachers, after school program staff, or even parents and caregivers!

Visit the Math and Sports Classroom Resource Set to access links to all of the Cyberchase resources like guided activities, printables, and links to online games.

Here’s just one activity to get you started!

Activity: Play Slugball!
Episode: Chaos as Usual
Description: Kids collect and use data in a game of “Slugball”, an indoor ball game, to predict what a player is likely to do next.
Math Topic: Data Collection

Joan Ganz Cooney Center Report: Effective Use of Emerging Digital Technologies

Take a Giant Step

Take a Giant Step Report

The Digital Age Teacher Preparation Council, established by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, recently released a report called Take a Giant Step that examines how emerging digital technologies can be used effectively for teaching and learning, with a specific focus on kids ages 3-8.  The report sets several goals for the nation to meet by 2020, including:

  • Advancing technology integration and infrastructure
  •  A more robust professional training program for early educational professionals
  • The expanded use of public media as cost-effective assets for teachers
  • The establishment of a Digital Teacher Corps

Zoom is one of the PBS Kids programs cited within the new report as an example of what works in the digital age for both formal and informal education of young children.  At the Zoom website for teachers and parents, you’ll find Zoom videos and activities from the show and many other resources such as:

  • Zoom sciTraining, a guide with learn-to-lead science activities such as getting kids ages 8 to 11 exploring the world around them as well as activities, field trip ideas, an event-planning guide, training tools, and more.
  • Zoom into science, where you can make the most of ZOOM’s science and math activities.

Get Ready to Read provides great Literacy Environment Checklists

To take one important step to ensure that your home  is literacy-friendly, use the Home Literacy Environment Checklist found on the Get Read to Read website

Print out their Home Literacy Checklist and take an inventory of your home environment and how well it promotes literacy skills.  This great tool is available  in English and in Spanish.

Get Ready to Read is a great place for parents and teachers to obtain resources to assess children’s literacy including a screening tool, a “Raising Readers” parents video, and some great activity cards

Teachers: check out all of these great resources and share with your students’ parents!