Monday, July 12, 2010

Word to the PEEPs

As most educators and parents know, finding quality TV shows for young children can be quite a challenge. While there are a number of engaging and even educational shows for kids on cable TV, the numerous commercials are often inappropriate for young viewers. This is one of the reasons why I’m a big fan of PBS Kids. It’s a safe haven where children can watch educational television without being exhorted to buy the latest toy or being subjected to trailers for TV shows or films aimed at a much older audience.

PEEP and the Big Wide World, produced by leading public TV station WGBH in Boston, is a show that focuses on science concepts for the preschool through kindergarten set. In my experience, kids always appreciate the humor in the show, as well as the fact that the questions posed by the show’s characters are ones they’d ask themselves. I especially like that the show includes live segments where kids try out different science experiments that are easily replicated at home or in a school setting.

My picks this week are all science-based resources from The PEEP and the Big Wide World Explorer's Guide, a downloadable guide comprised of six units that offer hands-on activities. Each unit features an animated PEEP story and accompanying live action film clips that discuss various science-related methods and concepts. The units also offer Family Science Letters that include additional activity ideas, as well as Web site and book recommendations to further explore the science topic at hand. Another nice feature is that all materials – curriculum units, videos, and Family Science Letters – are available in both English and Spanish.

Shadow Exploration for Young Children
Subjects: Science
Ages: 4-6
This unit is chock full of activities for children to examine and explore shadows in the world around them. There is a variety of animated and live action video clips that offer activities to further explore shadows, from making shadows indoors with flashlights to creating shadow puppets for a performance. One of my favorites is where kids trace their shadows with chalk outdoors, and then note how their shadows “move” throughout the day – a great way to help illustrate the earth’s rotation in relation to the sun.

Ramps and Rolling: Explorations with Young Children
Subjects: Physical science
Ages: 4-6
This unit offers plenty of hands-on activities for kids to learn about motion via ramps and rolling. Outside, kids can explore various types of inclines such as hills and slides, and discover the best surfaces for rolling. Indoors, kids can build ramps to test the movement of objects that roll and slide.

Water Explorations for Young Children
Subjects: Science
Ages: 4-6
In this unit, young children learn about the basic properties of water by engaging in both indoor and outdoor activities. Here, kids can explore objects that float and sink, make boats out of everyday materials, build dams, and learn about evaporation and water currents. These are fun, low-cost activities that effectively illustrate general and physical science properties such as buoyancy and force. Great ideas for those hot summer days!

~Joann's Picks - 7/10/2010~


  1. PBS has such excellent content! PEEP and the Big Wide World is such an excellent show and the accompanying website is fantastic!

  2. We love all the great free resources and tools from PBS!


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