PBS KIDS Playful Learning Apps

Virtual Learning Session by WXXI Education

Session Focus:

  • Playful + Learning + Apps
  • PBS KIDS Learning Goals
  • FREE Apps from PBS KIDS, by category
  • Connected activities and resources to support app-use
  • Common Sense Media
  • Ways to share with families

Playful + Learning + Apps

"Playful Learning"

  • Play can help children grow in self-esteem
  • Play can help children focus their attention.
  • Play can help children work on persistence and problem solving.
  • Play can help children develop their imagination
  • Play can help children with basic math and literacy skills

-Taken from "Playful Learning" newsletter of Fred Rogers Center, written by Hedda Sharapan, Fred Rogers Productions

PBS KIDS Apps + Learning Goals

  • Connected and aligned to PBS KIDS series (including learning goals)
  • Guided PBS KIDS Learning Frameworks: Math, Science, Literacy, Arts
  • There are A LOT of FREE apps, BUT not all PBS KIDS apps are free
  • This session is focused on only FREE apps
  • Promote: problem solving, play, exploring the outdoors, literacy, STEM/STEAM, adult-child interactions

Making the MOST of App-Play

  • Play together
  • Talk about what you’re playing
  • Match game/app play with hands-on activities
  • Read and listen to connected stories
  • Look at images
  • Reflect on what you are learning – drawing, talking, writing, painting…
  • Watch connected videos/video clips
  • Magic happens when you combine media + technology + ________________ (books, play materials, imagination, conversations, questions, grownups, other children...)

Example App: The Cat in the Hat Builds That!

  • Focus: Building and extending STEM concepts, such as friction, strength, length, measurement, problem solving, building, making a hypothesis… (as well as persistence, working on a team, collaborative, working towards a goal, working independently, science/STEM vocabulary)
  • Researched and evaluated through Ready To Learn work
  • Preview clip
  • Download app here
  • Use on tablet size device, not on phone.

CITH Connected & Extension Activities

Building Bridges Connected Activities:

Extension Activities (related):

Example App: Play & Learning Science

  • Focus: Introduces foundational science concepts and STEM practices through 5 distinct sets of activities: Water Games, Ramp and Roll, Shadow Play, Weather Control, and Gear Up.

  • Intentionally designed to serve as catalysts for real-world exploration by modeling real-world locations and experiences.

  • Provides parent tips/activity ideas and conversation starters

  • Researched and evaluated through Ready To Learn work

  • Preview clip

  • Download app here

PBS Play & Learn Science: Family & Community Learning

WXXI Education: Top Faves

Sometimes you need a place to start - try exploring these few PBS KIDS apps FIRST! These are WXXI Education staff's top picks because they are fun, active, bite-size, and perfect for co-playing:

  1. Outdoor Family Fun with Plum
  2. Sesame Street: Family Play
  3. PBS KIDS Measure Up!
  4. The Cat in the Hat Builds That!
  5. PBS Play & Learn: Science

Apps That Model Positive Uses of Tech/Media Learning for Grownups

Each of these apps provide playful learning opportunities for children, as well as suggested extension ideas for grownups.

Apps That Promote Outdoor Exploration

Each of these apps provide suggestions for ways to explore nature, outdoor areas, or pretend to explore nature (from inside). (Our favorite family-focused app is Outdoor Family Fun with Plum because it provides missions for families to do no matter where they are!)

Apps That Promote Building, Inventing, & Engineering

Do you have children who love to make, create, or build? These apps are perfect to invent and engineer with your favorite PBS KIDS friends.

Apps That Support Social-Emotional Development

Apps That Focus on Science & Math

Apps for Gamers and Coders

Do you have kids who love to play video games, do coding activities, or explore virtual worlds? These PBS KIDS apps are for them!
APP | PBS Parents Play & Learn | PBS KIDS (English)

Downloadable/Printable Resources to Share with Families

Downloadable/Printable Resources to Share with Families


We trust these apps and have used them with our engagement through PBS projects - they're awesome! They support citizen science work, encourage safe nature exploration, support families quest to learn more about their nature ecosystems, and more!

Common Sense Media

Educators and parents can use Common Sense Media to review and check appropriateness for ALL kinds of media (apps, television shows, movies, video games...)!

Need help with any of these resources?

Contact WXXI Education's Cara Rager at CRager@wxxi.org