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PBS Early Childhood

Super Science!

Sesame Street’s colorful and loveable characters are modelling asking questions, making observations using all of their senses, documenting changes, and forming conclusions in episodes that focus on scientific investigation. Grover takes on the role of Super Grover literally stumbling across the solution to scientific problems all across the world. View or print a sheet summarizing the STEM topics covered in each new episode!

The tables below are quick guides to PBS program websites and interactives. Click on the link in the “Educators” column to access the teaching resources for each program. Some program websites also offer video you can stream into your classroom. If the program website has streaming video available the “Video?” column in the table will say “yes.” PBS Interactives are not television programs, they are high-quality, animated, web-only educational media. A program description and the Educational Philosophy for each resource is listed below.

PBS Programs

Topic Program Age Weekdays Video? Website Educators
Music & dance Angelina Ballerina 3-5 yes GO! N/A
Child development, cognitive, social, emotional and physical Barney & Friends 2-5 GO! GO!
Transition from home to school Betsy’s Kindergarten Adventures 3-6 GO! GO!
Reading, writing, literacy readiness Between the Lions 3-7 yes GO! GO!
Movement, math, problem solving, science, language and imagination Boohbah 2-5 GO! GO!
Learning through play, imagination Caillou 2-6 1:00 pm GO! GO!
Science The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! 2-5 7:30 am yes GO! GO!
Social & emotional development Clifford 3-7 12:30 pm GO! GO!
Math, science and engineering Curious George 4-8 7:00 am yes GO! GO!
Scientific thinking, life science, nature, history and paleontology Dinosaur Train 3-6 8:30 am yes GO! GO!
Problem solving, global awareness, science, and vocabulary development Franny’s Feet 4-7 yes GO! GO!
Science and nature Jay Jay the Jet Plane 2-5 yes GO! GO!
Musical heritage Lomax the Hound of Music 3-7 yes GO! GO!
Nature, literacy, culture Mama Mirabell’s Home Movies 2-5 yes GO! GO!
Vocabulary Martha Speaks 4-7 11:30 am yes GO! GO!
Social/emotional development
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
2-5 yes GO! GO!
Science and Math
PEEP and the Big Wide World
3-5 noon yes GO! GO!
ESL, culture, language literacy Postcards from Buster 4-9 yes GO! GO!
Cognitive, social, emotional & physical development; literacy; environment Sesame Street 3-5 9:00 am yes GO! GO!
Science readiness Sid the Science Kid 3-6 11:00 am yes GO! GO!
Literacy SUPER WHY! 3-6 10:30 am yes GO! GO!
Letters, sounds, words & meaning WordWorld 3-5 1:30 pm GO! GO!
Science ZOOM 5-11 GO! GO!

PBS Interactives

Topic Program Age Link
Developing imagination Toopy & Binoo 2-5 GO!

PBS Kids Sites

Program Age Link
PBS Kids website
3-7 GO!
PBS Kids Educational Games website
3-7 GO!

Program Descriptions

Angelina Ballerina is a new program that will introduce fans to Angelina’s new home on the other side of Chipping Cheddar, a new performing arts school – Camembert Academy, new friends, a new teacher, Ms. Mimi, and many new adventures. Angelina Ballerina The Next Steps celebrates music and brings to life new forms for dance for Angelina including ballet, modern, tap, jazz, classic and ethnic. Angelina always works hard to reach her goals and learns from her mistakes. As kids share in Angelina’s experiences, they’re inspired to pursue their big dreams too!

Celebrating 10 years on PBS, Barney is starring in 20 brand-new episodes. The new episodes will feature a new setting and new cast of kids – but still offer the same core educational and pro-social elements that have earned the trust of a generation of parents…and taught a generation of children! The new episodes also feature interactive cameos with real kids who playfully respond to Barney by making silly faces, hugging, or pretending to fly in an airplane. As always, music remains an important element, with the new shows featuring fun, new songs, as well as classic Barney favorites.

Betsy’s Kindergarten Adventures is designed to ease the transition from the home life to the school life for children as they venture off into their formal education. It examines the questions, concerns, and challenges every child faces as they move into this new world.

Between the Lions is designed to help kids ages 3 to 7 learn to read.  Unique among the hundreds of programs aimed at children, this puppet, animated, and live-action show is based on a detailed and rigorous literacy curriculum. It was developed in extensive and ongoing consultation with reading professionals. The result is a lively, educational blend of phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, and other teaching methods for preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students. Several independent, scientifically-based reading research studies have shown that Between the Lions has a significant impact in increasing children’s literacy.

Boohbah is different from most educational TV.  It is intended to foster a style of active viewing in which the things that children learn from viewing are not determined primarily by the content of the program, but rather by the ways that young viewers (and the grown-ups who care about them) engage with the program.  Woven into the design of Boohbah are opportunities to help children build skills in five different learning areas: 1) Movement; 2) Mathematics; 3) Problem Solving/Science; 4) Language; and 5) Imagination.

Caillou is a 4-year-old boy who delights in the small wonders of the world around him, embellishing everything he sees with his rich imagination. Surrounded by his parents, his little sister, Rosie, his grandparents and friends his age, Caillou discovers the world and just can’t wait to grow up! Everything around him is an excuse to embark on exciting adventures, learn new things and have fun. Whether he’s at school, at home or in a park, Caillou finds opportunities for learning and growing everywhere!

 

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!™ is designed to spark a love of learning and an interest in science in preschool-aged children. Based on Random House’s best-selling Beginner Book collection “The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library™,” the TV series and online resources are designed to cultivate positive views about science and scientists among the next generation – the children who will become tomorrow’s citizens and innovators — and help teachers and families build communities of science explorers.

The learning goals of the programs and resources are designed to support young children’s science learning by: 1) Building on and supporting children’s curiosity about the natural world, 2) Introducing children to core science concepts, 3) Engaging children in the process of science inquiry, 4) Providing opportunities for children to learn, use, and practice inquiry skills, 5) Modeling what it means to think and act like a scientist, 6) Inviting children to engage in science practices including discourse and collaboration, and 7)  Providing a foundation on which later science learning will build.


Clifford’s Big Ideas are positive character traits modeled by the characters in the series: 1) be a good friend; 2) be kind; 3) be responsible; 4) be truthful; 5) believe in yourself; 6) have respect; 7) help others; 8) play fair; 9) share; and 10) work together.


Curious George is a little monkey with an insatiable curiosity. Like George, children are intrigued by new things. They’re natural explorers and scientists, and they’re anxious to know how things work. The Curious George series takes full advantage of this natural curiosity, using George to motivate children to expand their own investigations of the world. George’s memorable adventures — from dismantling clocks to rounding up errant bunnies — offer the perfect vehicles for introducing preschoolers to key concepts in science, engineering, and math.

Science, engineering, and mathematics are disciplines representing years of accumulated knowledge. The objective of the Curious George series is to help children appreciate these disciplines and the wealth of knowledge contained in them. Appreciation and understanding begins for young children with exploration, observation, discovery, and most importantly, curiosity. Curious about the world around them, children begin to observe properties, discover how things work, and, ultimately, develop scientific thought processes.

DINOSAUR TRAIN embraces and celebrates the fascination that preschoolers have with both dinosaurs and trains. The series encourages basic scientific thinking skills as the audience learns about life science, natural history and paleontology. Each episode features Buddy, an adorable preschool age Tyrannosaurus Rex, and his adoptive Pteranodon family as they board the DINOSAUR TRAIN and embark on whimsical voyages through prehistoric jungles, swamps, volcanoes and oceans. The episodes include two 11-minute animated stories, along with brief live action segments hosted by renowned paleontologist Dr. Scott Sampson, that unearth basic concepts in life science, natural history and paleontology.

Dragon Tales is an animated fantasy adventure series featuring 6-year-old Emmy, her 4-year-old brother Max and the four young dragons they befriend in Dragon Land. The educational goals of the program are: 1) to encourage young children to pursue the challenging experiences that support their growth and development; 2) to help young children recognize there are many ways to approach and learn from the challenging experiences in their lives; and 3) To help young children understand that to try and not succeed fully is a natural and valuable part of learning.

Franny’s Feet, a multimedia series for four- to seven-year-old children, is rooted in the excitement, learning, and joyful discoveries that exploration can bring. In each episode, Franny explores a new place, new people, and new situations that broaden her – and the viewer’s – understanding of the world. The curriculum for the series includes global awareness, problem solving, science, socio-emotional learning, and vocabulary development – all of which are woven together for a seamless, interdisciplinary learning experience.

Jay Jay the Jet Plane, one of the world’s most popular, entertaining animated characters, has landed at PBS as a daily preschool television series.  Jay Jay and his airplane friends bring stories of fun and adventure, all from their magical home at Tarrytown Airport, “where imagination takes flight!”

Lomax: The Hound of Music is a PBS series featuring a good-natured, melody-obsessed puppet pooch named Lomax, his fluffy feline sidekick Delta, and their human companion, Amy, on a tune-filled train ride crisscrossing the musical landscape of America. With the help – and full participation – of real kids on the train, on location, and the viewers at home, Lomax and his friends doggedly pursue their mutual passion: tracking down the wonderful songs that form the heart of our nation’s diverse musical heritage.

Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies is an animated television series that looks at the natural world from a preschooler’s point of view. It introduces preschoolers to a fascinating world filled with loveable characters and stunning wildlife movies from National Geographic. The series combines relevant preschool themes, positive role models and helps preschoolers learn about animal customs and behaviors. The series also features original African and world-inspired music.

Based on the children’s book series by Susan Meddaugh and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the series stars Martha, a beloved family dog. She is accidentally fed alphabet soup — this gives her the power of speech and the chance to speak her mind to anyone that will listen. The goal of Martha Speaks is to increase oral vocabulary, the words we use when we talk. The shows are not trying to teach kids how to read. They are designed to help kids understand what words mean when they hear them; words like retrieve, sprout, and crave. Vocabulary is one thing that predicts if children will be good readers. Once they are in school and they see these words, children will need to know what they mean. If children have heard the words before, that familiarity will help them as they learn to read.

Many people witness the “magic” of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, its profound and enduring appeal to young children, and the positive effect it has on them. But often those same people also say they don’t understand why the series works so well. The reason isn’t magic at all. The main focus of this television series is on children’s emotional development, and its success is based on a combination of several factors: 1) Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood encourages children to feel good about themselves; 2) Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood helps children learn the skills needed for growing up; 3) Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is made for children; 4) the series is based on widely-accepted principles of child development and child psychology; 5) Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood encourages appreciation of and respect for others; and 6) Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood promotes values that are universally important to children and families.

Postcards from Buster is a blend of animation and live action starring Arthur’s best friend, Buster. Buster’s dad, a pilot, is flying Los Viajeros, a rock group, on a North American tour and he’s invited Buster to come along. In each episode, Buster travels to a new location and meets new kids and families. These children reflect the many different voices and faces of young Americans today. Many of them are bilingual and/or bicultural.

Postcards from Buster has two key educational goals: to build awareness and appreciation of the many cultures in America and to support the language learning of children in the process of acquiring English.

PEEP and the Big Wide World presents a fun and motivating story about everyday experiences where science is naturally explored.  Each animated TV story is followed by a video clip of children exploring a related science topic. The Science Advisor for the show is Karen Worth, a leader in the field of early childhood education and the co-author of the recently published book, Worms, Shadows, and Whirlpools: Science in the Early Childhood Classroom.


Sesame Street put television to work as an educational tool, and independent research has repeatedly and conclusively proven that the approach succeeds in improving cognitive skills, teaching respect and social skills, and promoting school readiness skills. Children who watch the show as two-year-olds gain an advantage in math, vocabulary, and other school readiness skills by the time they are five.

Sesame Street helps children: 1)  develop early language and literacy skills such as letter knowledge, vocabulary, and reading and writing fundamentals; 2) think things through and reason effectively through observation, asking questions, problem solving, and understanding other people’s perspectives; 3) gain a deeper understanding of early mathematical concepts and language such as numbers, counting, addition, subtraction, geometric shapes, and patterns; 4) label and express their feelings; 5)  cope constructively with their feelings and empathize with others; 6) form positive relationships as they play, cooperate, and resolve conflicts; 7) develop an appreciation and love for nature, and learn simple ways of showing care and stewardship for the environment; 8) create and appreciate various forms of art such as visual art, music, and dance; 9) incorporate healthy habits in their everyday lives by eating healthy foods, staying physically active, and practicing good hygiene; and 10) appreciate cultural diversity and children with various abilities.

Sid the Science Kid is a television series and interactive website for children 3-6 and the adults who care for them. To support science learning, Sid takes advantage of kids’ instinctive quest to figure out the world as well as their growing sense of humor. The desire to understand underlies all scientific exploration, and preschoolers’ questions often involve the same big ideas that scientists investigate. Kids who ask, “Why are the leaves falling off the trees? Why are my shoes too small? Where’d my snowman go?” – are wondering about transformation and change. “What’s hair for? Why are my teeth different shapes? How do birds fly, and why can’t I?” are questions about form and function. Research tells us that young children already know something about these big ideas. Sid is ready to help them learn more.

The main goals of Sid the Science Kid are: 1) to encourage children to think, talk and work the way scientists do by building on preschoolers’ natural curiosity about the world; 2) to show that science is all around us – we all interact with and are capable of learning about scientific concepts; 3) to contribute to school readiness by fostering children’s intellectual skills, motivation to learn, and confidence in themselves as learners; 4) to support children’s learning by partnering with parents and teachers to create a “climate of curiosity” for children.

SUPER WHY is a series designed to help kids ages 3 to 6 with the critical skills that they need to learn to read (and love to read!) as recommended by the National Reading Panel: alphabet skills, word families, spelling, comprehension and vocabulary.


Toopy and Binoo invite preschoolers to delve into their fantastic world through short compelling stories. Each story begins in the real world, where Toopy seizes an opportunity to slip into an imaginary universe. Humor and the absurd combine in a series of twists and turns before children are brought back into the real world in an ending that is often unexpected and delightful. Deliberately free of moralizing, these stories rather encourage young viewers to use their imagination and look at things with a fresh perspective.

Through its innovative approach of immersing viewers in a word-rich place, where things spell out the objects they represent, WordWorld aims to fascinate children with words and to inspire a love of words and reading. Featuring loveable, silly characters called WordFriends who embark on adventures in a world of words, WordWorld encourages children to see words as their friends, too. Providing constant opportunity for word play, WordWorld empowers children as early readers by making the important connections between letters, sounds, words and meaning that are necessary for reading.

ZOOM is a television series that challenges five- to eleven-year-olds to “turn off the TV and do it!” ZOOM is packed with science experiments, recipes, plays, games, jokes, chats, poems, and volunteer ideas, all sent in by viewers, and offering a wealth of activities for kids to do by themselves, with friends, or with their parents. Behind each entertaining half-hour episode is a curriculum developed by leading educators and advisors. ZOOM‘s multidisciplinary content-based format teaches viewers how to take an active approach to learning–to ask questions, create, experiment, open themselves up to new possibilities, and have fun!

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