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PBS Elementary

Martha Speaks Reading Buddies Program!

The Reading Buddies Program program pairs kindergarten and fifth grade students in eight vocabulary expansion sessions. Each session includes viewing an on-line Martha Speaks episode, reading together, talking together, and completing vocabulary activities. The Reading Buddies website includes printable teacher, student, and family materials. Sign-up to receive a monthly e-newsletter that provides additional vocabulary activities, updates to the Reading Buddies program and suggestions for classroom practice.

New PBS Webonauts Internet Academy!

Webonauts Internet Academy is a web original game that gives kids 8- to 10-years-old an opportunity to have fun while exploring what it means to be a citizen in a web-infused‚ information-rich world. It becomes all the more powerful when teachers use game play as a springboard for conversations about media literacy and citizenship in the 21st Century.

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
Literacy Animalia 6-11 Sun. 9:00 am GO! GO!
Reading, writing, social skills Arthur 6-11 3:00 pm GO! GO!
Reading, writing, literacy readiness Between the Lions 3-7 11:00 am yes GO! GO!
Math, Science, Engineering Curious George 4-8 7:00 am yes GO! GO!
Math Cyberchase 8-12 2:00 pm yes GO! GO!
Math, engineering, science, physics Design Squad Nation
10-15 yes GO! GO!
Science Dragonfly TV 9-12 yes GO! GO!
Literacy The Electric Company 6-9 4:00 pm yes GO! GO!
Science FETCH! 6-10 4:30 pm GO! GO!
History, science, problem solving History Detectives Kids 8-16 yes GO! GO!
ESL, Language literacy, culture Postcards from Buster 4-9 yes GO! GO!
Science for Girls SciGirls 9-14
Sun. 10:30 am
yes GO! GO!
Cognitive, social, emotional & physical development; literacy; environment Sesame Street
3-11 9:00 am yes GO! GO!
Science Readiness Sid the Science Kid 3-6 10:00 am yes GO! GO!
Literacy SUPER WHY! 3-6 8:00 am yes GO! GO!
Science Wild Kratts 6-8 yes GO! GO!
Vocabulary Word Girl 8-12 3:30 pm yes GO! GO!
Science ZOOM 5-11 GO! GO!

PBS Interactives

Topic Program Age Link
Nutrition
Fizzy’s Lunch Lab
6-11
GO!
Emotional & social development
It’s My Life
9-12
GO!
Science, decision making
Lifeboat to Mars
9-12
GO!
History
Mission U.S.
9-14
GO!
Vocabulary, reading comprehension, 21st century skills
RUThere (coming soon)
GO!
Social Studies
Speak Out
9-14
GO!
Media literacy, internet safety, cyberbullying, online privacy, and credible online sources
Webonauts Internet Academy
8-10 GO!
US History, Geography, Culture
Wilson & Ditch
8-12 GO!

PBS Kids Sites

Program Grade Link
PBS Kids Go! 1-5 GO!

Program Descriptions

Animalia is an adventurous, fast-paced, and funny show that carries positive social messages and highlights key character traits like cooperation, persistence and creativity, but Animalia is also all about literacy. Under its entertaining surface, each episode depicts key elements of skillful language use: reading, writing, speaking, listening, critical thinking, and investigating. The series takes its inspiration from America’s national literacy standards, as enunciated by the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association.


Based on the children’s books by Marc Brown, ARTHUR chronicles the adventures of Arthur (an eight-year-old aardvark) through engaging, emotional stories that explore issues faced by real kids. It is a comedy that tells these stories from a kid’s point of view without moralizing or talking down. Situations on ARTHUR develop in realistic ways, and don’t always turn out as we — or Arthur and his friends — might expect.

ARTHUR‘s goals are to help foster an interest in reading and writing, to encourage positive social skills, and to model age-appropriate problem-solving strategies.

Between the Lions is an award-winning PBS television series that premiered in April 2000. It’s designed to foster the literacy skills of its viewers, while playfully demonstrating the joys of reading. Each show aims to give kids three to seven years old some of the experiences they need in order to become successful readers.

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.

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.

The Award-winning series CYBERCHASE is the only mathematics series for children on American television. Designed for kids ages 8 to 12 and packed with mystery, humor, and action, each episode delivers positive messages about math by teaching concepts in a fun way that kids can understand.

Targeted at children aged 8 to 12, the overall goals of CYBERCHASE are: 1) to foster enthusiasm for math in the critical years when too many children decide they do not like or are not good at the subject; 2) to model math reasoning and help children improve their problem-solving skills; 3) to demonstrate the usefulness of math; and 4) to inspire all children to approach math with confidence and a “can-do” attitude.

Design Squad Nation is one of the few places on TV where kids can learn about engineering. From creating a skate park at the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona to designing a cake with movable parts for the cast party of “Young Frankenstein: The Musical,” the goal of Design Squad Nation is to inspire viewers to take on their own hands-on engineering activities. The Design Squad Nation website contains newly upgraded video (all episodes can be viewed online) and has added both an educators’ blog and kids’ blog as well as DIY videos demonstrating possible solutions to hands-on activities.

DragonflyTV is designed to appeal to children from diverse ethnic, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds. By modeling and celebrating children’s science capabilities, DragonflyTV shows that if kids can dream it, they can do it!

DragonflyTV‘s educational philosophy is echoed in its mission: To give children and scientists a national forum where they can share the excitement of scientific discovery.

Over thirty years ago, an educational television show dared to speak to youth in the voice of their generation. The Electric Company turned on the power of possibility for kids by showing them that learning to read can be fun. In 2009, the power is surging back with the all-new The Electric Company, produced by Sesame Workshop. With a cool cast of characters, amazing literacy superpowers, side-splitting cartoons, and songs that you can’t help dancing along with, this reincarnation of a television classic is sure to make an impact on the newest generation.

The Electric Company aims to entertain children between the ages of 6 and 9 while simultaneously teaching four crucial areas of literacy that are challenging for struggling readers: 1) Decoding: Children will increase their ability to manipulate sounds in spoken words and map those words to print; 2) Vocabulary: Children will expand the amount of words that they use and understand; 3) Comprehension of Connected Text: Children will learn strategies that good readers use to understand connected text (phrases and sentences). 4) Motivation: Children will be motivated to read connected text and express themselves using text.

Part game show, part reality TV, and part spoof, FETCH! features real kids, real challenges, real science, and an unreal host named Ruff Ruffman. The show has created a variety of ways to present science and math content on television which include: 1) Data Challenges: Contestants collect and analyze data to answer a question. 2) Career Challenges: Contestants spend a day in the life of a scientist. 3) Design Challenges: Contestants engineer a solution to a problem using the steps of the engineering-design process. 4) Game Challenges: Contestants learn about science through play.

A major goal of the series is to model for viewers that no matter what the challenge, contestants will need to apply a specific set of skills, which can be performed in different sequences and repeated as necessary, in order to find their solutions: 1) Decide on Your Goals: State both inter-personal goals (how you hope your team will function in meeting the challenge) and intra-personal goals (such as overcoming a fear of heights or an aversion to trying new foods). 2) Brainstorm Solutions: Stop and think of as many solutions to the problem as you can: make your thinking broad and adventurous. Don’t decide yet if your solutions are good or bad. 3) Choose Your Best Solution: Weigh the pros and cons of each solution; check in with each other, and then reach a consensus so that the solution is inclusive of everyone. 4) Plan It Out: Think through the solution, predict probable outcomes, and identify roles for each of the team members. 5) Try it Out: Gather information from a variety of sources (including from adults, books, media, and the Internet), call on your own resources and recognize your own abilities as well as those of your team members. If needed, recruit additional adults or other kids to mentor you through the learning process and 6) Reflect and Rethink: Reflect on the success of the challenge, learn from your experimentation, and apply your newly found knowledge to future challenges.

Fizzy’s Lunch Lab is a vibrant, fun and kid-friendly Web-only series featuring original characters and funny stories that entertain and educate families about the importance of good nutrition, a balanced diet, and physical activity. Join Professor Fizzy and his friends in the super-charged Lunch Lab Test Kitchen, as they prepare healthy snacks, investigate the difference between good and bad food, and learn what happens once the food you eat goes into your body.

Fizzy’s goal is to provide an informative overview of food and nutrition topics with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Most researchers agree that a diet rich in fruits and veggies are the key to healthy nutrition, avoidance of obesity, and disease prevention. Educational Goals are: 1) create a positive change in the current state of childhood nutrition; 2) encourage daily physical activity and exercise; and 3) promote basic nutrition & portion-size, eating three meals a day (especially a good breakfast), and family meal-time interactions.

Introduce your students to History Detectives using the website features and lesson plans. These lessons will help you engage students in rich history investigations and will allow you to support your curriculum and the national history standards in unique ways.

The activities are based on The Golden Super Sleuthing Rules: 1) analyze it; 2) investigate it; 3) understand it; and 4) test it. These rules and the activities on the Web site help children develop analytical and problem solving skills.

It’s My Life deals with (you guessed it!) life and the stuff that we deal with every day. Whatever problem you’re dealing with, believe it or not, other kids and teens have gone through the same thing. Here at It’s My Life, you can read informative articles, share your stories, play games and activities, take quizzes and polls, watch video clips of other kids talking about their feelings and experiences, get advice from older kids and experts, and contribute your own comments and questions. It’s My Life also features interviews with celebrities about stuff they had to go through when they were kids.   It’s My Life is organized across six topic “channels”: Friends, Family, School, Body, Emotions, and Money.

LIFEBOAT TO MARS is an interactive that guides children through learning new biology concepts and develop their scientific thought process.  It is set in the future: September 15, 2041. Mars Lifeboat #43 is a supply ship carrying experimental DNA to colonies on Mars when it suffers a devastating explosion on its way to the red planet. The microbe population is wiped out, plants are wilting and the few animals left are starving.   This is a brand-new interactive still in testing mode.  Watch the website for educational materials.

Mission US is an interactive adventure game designed to improve the understanding of American history by students in grades 5 through 8. The first game in a planned series, Mission 1: “For Crown or Colony?” explores the reasons for Revolution through the eyes of both Loyalists and Patriots in 1770 Boston.  This website provides information and materials to support the use of Mission 1 in your classroom. Download all the teacher materials as a DOC or PDF. The overall learning goals for the interactive are: 1) learn the story of America and the ways Americans struggled to realize the ideals of liberty and equality; 2) understand the role of ordinary men and women—including young people—in history; and 3) develop historical thinking skills that increase historical understanding and critical perception.

COMING SOON! Partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education, R U There? is a first-of its-kind educational, Transmedia adventure that engages children across multiple media platforms, immersing them in an futuristic world where they must develop their vocabulary, reading comprehension and 21st century skills as they save the Earth from “evil forces”! It’s the first of a new entertainment genre called X-Fi or Experienced Fiction.  X-Fi is participatory entertainment for kids that delivers a linear storyline and rich literacy curriculum across media, including: Television Broadcast, Online Gaming at Xoosh.Net, Comic Books, Music Video, and More to Come!

Children are challenged to read with purpose, identifying and utilizing explicitly stated target information to advance from one game-isode to the next.  To accomplish special missions, children must build words, which helps them recognize and understand the meanings of specific prefixes, suffixes and root words.

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.

The backbone of each SciGirls episode is the science, technology, engineering and math that drive each project. The focus is on the process of investigation and not always the end result. Every experiment isn’t perfect, but each episode showcases important characteristics of a STEM project: teamwork, challenges, problem solving, freedom to express ideas, and support along the way. The show also model important science process skills as kids set out to: predict, observe, measure, classify, experiment, record, interpret, graph, and communicate. These skills are at the heart of both the scientific and engineering design processes.

In addition, the entire approach to SciGirls — the TV show, the website, and our outreach and educational activities — is rooted in what research* has revealed about how to engage girls in STEM. A quarter of a century of studies have converged on a set of common strategies that work, and these have become the foundation of SciGirls: 1) girls benefit from collaboration on projects, especially when they can participate equitably and communicate fairly; 2) girls are motivated by projects that they find personally relevant and meaningful; 3) girls enjoy open-ended activities, projects, and investigations; 4) girls are motivated when they can approach projects in their own way, applying their creativity, unique talents and preferred learning styles; 5) girls’ confidence and performance improves in response to specific, positive feedback on things they can control – such as effort, strategies and behaviors; 6) girls appreciate opportunities to think critically about science; and 7) girls benefit from relationships with role models and mentors.


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.

SPEAK OUT encourages civic engagement among 6 to 12 year olds by prompting them to submit ideas to address prominent citizens’ issues as they most relate to kids’ lives. Community discussion and the democratic process are modeled by allowing kids to choose which ideas they like best. The ideas with the most votes are featured on pbskids.org/speakout in the form of a message to our President. This active, digital message will reflect the youth’s changing concerns and proposed solutions over time.

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.

Because it addresses issues of web safety‚ information literacy and digital citizenship‚ Webonauts Internet Academy can be a great tool for classrooms and school media centers. Teachers‚ librarians and technology coordinators can support student learning by using the game in the following ways:

  • As a warm-up activity to a unit on cybersafety.
  • To get students thinking about the purpose of a motto.
  • As a requirement before using school computers.
  • As a resource before hosting a debate on digital citizenship.
  • As a complement to the school’s acceptable use policy.

Watch for Wild Kratts coming in January, 2011

Wilson & Ditch is an interactive area of study that includes American history and culture. In Wilson and Ditch: Digging America, students will not only learn about the geography of each state but will also learn about the history, local culture, popular culture, arts and literature, nature sites, local ecology, monuments, and some of the state’s unusual locations. While following Wilson and Ditch on their journeys, students will gain map skills and learn more about the national identity of those who live in the USA.

The goals of this show are: 1) to help students learn the geography of the United States; 2) to help students understand and appreciate the diversity of American Culture; 3) to introduce students to regions within the United States; and 4) to help students gain an appreciation for the natural and ecological make up of the United States.

WordGirl is a new animated series that follows the every day life and superhero adventures of “WordGirl” as she fights crime and enriches vocabulary usage, all in a day’s work. Each episode introduces four new vocabulary words and will reinforce their meaning in a variety of contexts throughout the episode.

The educational goals of the program are: 1) to engage children in a language-filled world that will provide a meaningful context and rich experiences to help build children’s deep word knowledge and engender a lifelong enthusiasm for language; 2) direct instruction of important targeted vocabulary words presented in multiple and interesting contexts in order to build children’s deep word knowledge and overall vocabulary interest; and 3) to provide role-models for children illustrating the power of words within a rewarding social/emotional and cultural context that includes positive character models from groups underrepresented or negatively stereotyped in the mainstream media, promoting the value of our diverse society.

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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