Thursday, February 12, 2009

PBS KIDS Island


Covert learning, I find, is always more effective for my reluctant reader than the obvious, "let's sit down and read a book" kind of learning. The effectiveness grows if there is the possibility of winning something...even a virtual "something". PBS KIDS Island offers free reading games and activities for children ages 2-5 years but I have found my 8 year old reluctant reader actively using it along with my 3 year old. New features will soon be added, including a Word of the Day and games for older children (ages 6-8). Until then, my little man seems to be satisfied in "helping" his little sister win lots of tickets. PBS KIDS Island gives children the tools to create an online island carnival one ride at a time by playing reading games with PBS KIDS® characters. There are eight different literacy-building levels:
  • phonological awareness,
  • letter recognition,
  • letter sequencing,
  • phonemic awareness,
  • word families,
  • phonics-decoding,
  • text comprehension
  • vocabulary
It isn’t easy for anyone to make sense of all this new information, parents or kids. But reading doesn’t – and shouldn’t – have to be an frightening process that turns off all but the most gifted students. With PBS KIDS Island, children are introduced to new skills in a playful, silly way, allowing them to learn at their own pace and remain interested. Hey, uh, that's how I like to learn too! Everything from the alphabet to phonemes can be fun. Honest. The 32 games hit on these different skills, each an important piece to reading successfully. As your child plays the games she is learning these skills in order of literacy development. As her skills develop she is given the opportunity to build more rides on the Island while secretly (shhh, don't tell them they're learning) gaining the skills she needs to become a great reader.

The games are fun in-and-of themselves, but a ticket and prize reward system is included to encourage kids to achieve even more. Kids earn tickets by completing games (multiple tickets for the first completion and one for each completion of the same game thereafter) and can trade in their tickets for prizes like virtual toys and coloring pages you can print. The prizes live in each kid's customizable treehouse, another feature to help children feel like their PBS KIDS Island is theirs.

But the best part is that parents can be a part of the child’s learning process, since all child accounts are in the adult's account. The site requires an email account and multiple kids can play under one email address. As the account holder, I can track my kids progress and do reading activities with them related to what they are learning on the Island. Oh, and did I mention that it’s free? Yeah, now that's my kind of bargain. And I don't even have to leave my house to buy some expensive reading program to help my kids learn to read; just the click of the mouse and I get one more notch on my super mommy belt.

Now, I'd like to hear from you! How do you make reading fun for your kids? What online resources do you use, if any? If you’ve used PBS KIDS Island, what did you – and your kids – think? Happy Reading!
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1 comment:

Jolly Mom said...

I have never heard of this! Sounds cool-I'm going to check it out. Great review!