ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 15 PRNewswire — Beginning today, PBS is opening the beta test for a new Internet-based educational service designed to provide children ages 3 to 6 with a comprehensive early childhood curriculum. PBS KIDS PLAY!(SM), which will be offered as a subscription service later this calendar quarter, uses interactive games and activities to provide a personalized learning experience at home. The PBS KIDS PLAY! Beta is currently available as a download from www.pbskidsplay.org and requires a high-speed Internet connection to use.
All of the games and activities in PBS KIDS PLAY! were designed from the ground up specifically to meet nationally recognized educational standards and benchmarks. The PBS KIDS PLAY! curriculum includes essential skill areas in Math, Science, Language, Literacy, Creativity, Healthy Development, and Social Studies. With a single click, parents can read about the learning objectives and instructions for each activity. PBS KIDS PLAY! also provides an easy-to- use progress chart that helps parents see the "big picture." The chart shows how each child is advancing through the curriculum, including an indicator of how far the child has progressed in each skill area. This information is tailored specifically for each child and includes recommendations for activities to try, based on the child's skill level.
"A critical mass of families now has broadband Internet access and that creates an opportunity to take online learning to a whole new level for a new generation — and that's exactly what PBS KIDS PLAY! is designed to do," said Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President, PBS KIDS. "PBS KIDS PLAY! is a natural extension of the PBS mission to advance children's learning with new, innovative media approaches."
"We've taken a comprehensive approach to children's learning in order to address the whole child," said Ben Grimley, Senior Director of Interactive Businesses at PBS.
PBS KIDS characters from programs including CURIOUS GEORGE, SUPER WHY!, MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD, FRANNY'S FEET, MAMA MIRABELLE'S HOME MOVIES, and THE BERENSTAIN BEARS will guide children through the activities.
"By delivering PBS KIDS PLAY! over the Internet, we're able to continually expand the service, offering a steady stream of new activities to keep children engaged in learning," said Grimley.
Following are highlights of PBS KIDS PLAY!: — PBS KIDS PLAY! is an adaptive learning environment — the learning activities adapt to each child based on his or her individual progress, opening up exciting new learning opportunities as the child advances. — A built-in recommendations engine automatically suggests increasingly challenging and varied activities, tailored to each child, to keep the child engaged in learning. — Text-free navigation enables pre-readers to navigate PBS KIDS PLAY! — Children can customize their own room in PBS KIDS PLAY!, creating an environment that they look forward to visiting. — Children can save and edit creative projects, such as drawings and musical compositions. — PBS KIDS PLAY! streams selected PBS KIDS TV episodes on demand inside of a child-friendly Flash player. — A personal \"favorites\" list, showing thumbnail images of each activity, makes it easy to bookmark activities and find them later. Parents can also view recently played activities. — Parents can pre-set the PBS KIDS PLAY! \"Take a Break\" feature to enforce breaks and limit their child's time on the computer as they see fit. — PBS KIDS PLAY! is a safe desktop environment that runs full-screen and does not allow sharing of personal information or any communications among users. — Technical support is available 24/7 via toll-free phone and email beginning January 16.
During the beta test, PBS KIDS PLAY! is available for families to try at no cost. A limited number of activities are available, and more will be added throughout the beta period. To test the service, parents can visit www.pbskidsplay.org. The initial setup takes approximately two minutes. The service requires a computer with Windows XP or Vista operating system, mid- range processing power (Pentium 4 or Dual-Core), and broadband Internet access. PBS is planning to support the Mac OS in a future phase of development.
For families without broadband Internet service at home, PBS is launching a pilot program to offer PBS KIDS PLAY! free through participating PBS stations and selected local libraries with which they partner.
When it officially launches later this quarter, PBS KIDS PLAY! will be offered for a monthly subscription fee of $9.95, or $79.95 annually.
About PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO!
PBS KIDS, for preschoolers, and PBS KIDS GO!, for early elementary school kids, are committed to providing the highest quality non-commercial content and learning environment for children across the country. Providing age- appropriate, diverse programming for kids, PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! programs consistently earn more prestigious awards than any other broadcast or cable network. Only PBS KIDS and PBS KIDS GO! have earned the unanimous endorsement of parents, children, industry leaders and teachers. With additional PBS resources to complement its programming, including PBS KIDS online (pbskids.org), PBS KIDS GO! online (pbskidsgo.org), PBS Parents (pbsparents.org), PBS Teachers (pbs.org/teachers), PBS Ready To Learn services and literacy events across the country, PBS is providing the tools necessary for positive child development. PBS is a nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 355 public television stations, serving nearly 73 million people each week and reaching 99% of American homes.