Ruff Goes to Harvard

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WGBH and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University are excited to share the release of The Internet and You: Curricular Materials for Educators Grades 1-3, developed by the Youth and Media team in collaboration with the New York Public Library and WGBH.

Featuring Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius from PBS, “The Internet and You” provides interactive lesson plans about digital privacy, search engines, online advertising, and the creation of positive online experiences that can be used in schools, after-school programs, and beyond.

This free resource for educators, which includes worksheets kids can do at home with their parents or other caregivers, is now available on our Digital Literacy Resource Platform (DLRP), thanks to generous support from the Digital Media and Learning (DML) Trust Challenge grant.

“Young learners today are surrounded by digital technologies, but often they haven’t had the guidance in basic best practices that can help keep their online experiences positive,” said Berkman Klein Fellow and “The Internet and You” author Leah Plunkett. “Our new materials aim to support educators with the right tools to empower students to better navigate the digital space.”

These new curricular materials for elementary school age youth are part of an ever-growing set of educational resources for a diverse audience of youth (elementary, middle, and high school age), teachers, parents, and school administrators. Hosted on the DLRP, these resources provide guidance on online privacy, safety, information quality, and creative expression, and can be used both in school and out-of-school contexts.

Huzzah for the Aardvark!

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Fresh from his time in the Internet’s headlights as a meme, Arthur has been recognized by Parents’ Choice for his website which this year went through an awesome redesign and added some great new games.

The award review:

Everyone’s favorite aardvark, Arthur, has a website that is just as fun and quirky as he is! The PBS Kids Arthur website is filled to the brim with entertaining and educational games, activities, and printables designed for preschoolers. And, because the material changes periodically, users could, literally, spend hours on the website and always find things to do.

During our review period, my son became a Treehouse Designer as he helped various characters design the inside and outside of their treehouse based on key adjectives; for example, Binky wanted an “artsy” treehouse, so my son got to pick and choose the furniture and accessories that he believed met that description. This gave us an opportunity to discuss adjectives and how they are used. He also used the Lunch-o-Matic with the Brain as he selected items to complete healthy lunches for his friends. This was a great way to talk about not just which foods are good choices, but why. The game taught him about vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and more – much more than the standard “What are the food groups?”

Beyond the game-style activities, children can also create comic strips, write poems, and send letters to Arthur and his friends. All of these activities offer opportunities to practice early reading and writing skills in a fun and safe venue. Another activity, which we particularly enjoyed was Family History Fun in which he created and conducted an interview about how I grew up, what my family was like, what my favorite items were, and so forth. He then added a picture, designed the layout and printed his work.

In addition to the website’s long-term play and learning values, we greatly appreciate that the instructions for nearly all the games and activities on the website are narrated and/or illustrated. This allows children to navigate the site with minimal parental assistance (not minimal parental involvement, mind you). This, in turn, increases a child’s sense of independence, self-efficacy, and self-confidence, all of which are critical developmental skills for social and academic success.

The website also features several types of printables including coloring pages, trading cards, and bookmarks, extending the many screen-based activities to plenty of screen-free fun.

Congrats to the site’s longtime senior producer, Gentry and his terrific team.

Arthur Fun!

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First, our newest game has launched. Treehouse Designer lets players design the interior and exterior of new treehouses for the ARTHUR characters to enjoy. Based on requests from Arthur and his friends, the player tailors each treehouse to its owner — encouraging goal-oriented creativity within the design process. When the treehouses are complete, kids can see the results of their handiwork in a fun, animated environment!

The ARTHUR team includes Gentry, Jeff, Tara, Jolin, Alan and Bill.

In other ARTHUR news,  “Waldo Loves Muffy” — the logic game featuring Muffy and her imaginary friend — has launched in the PBS Kids Games app, joining “Arthur Delivers” in the latest offering from PBS Kids designed to reach kids where they are, on mobile devices. 

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