Just about every parent in America knows about PBS Kids. They’re the folks who bring shows like Sesame Street, Curious George and Arthur to TV sets. But PBS also has smart phone, tablet and web apps for kids 2-8.
At the giant South by Southwest Interactive (SxSw) geekfest in Austin on Friday, the non-profit media organization released two new titles: All Aboard the Dinosaur Train! for iPad and Dinosaur Train Camera Catch! for iPhone.
All About the Dinosaur Train teaches math and spacial awareness. “The problem,” as it says in the download page on the Apple app store, “is that dinosaurs come in different sizes, so your child needs to match your passengers with the right train cars, challenging them to problem-solve by estimating dinosaur sizes and comparing them with the train cars’ capacity.”
When playing Dinosaur Train Camera Catch! (for iPhone), kids have to snap pictures of flying dinosaurs in a designated pattern, which build pattern recognition skills, not to menton hand-eye coordination.
Although many PBS Kids apps are free, the two new ones cost $1.99, but PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) are making them available for free to Head Start centers, local PBS stations, and other organizations in low-income communities.
An October, 2011 study from Common Sense Media, predictably, found an “app gap” based on socio-economic status. The study found that 27% of lower-income families have a parent with a smartphone, compared to 57% for higher-income children with similar gaps for tablets and hand-held media players like the iPod Touch. Of course, providing free software doesn’t put hardware in kids’ hands but, increasingly schools and Head Start programs are providing tablets and other devices for kids to use.
Also, many PBS Kids games can be played (for free) via the web both at home and at schools equipped with smart boards.