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New PBS KIDS App Provides Interactive Activities to Help Parents Make Anytime Learning Time
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FREE PBS Parents Play & Learn App gives parents tools to introduce young learners to reading and math concepts; now available on Google Play and NOOK® platforms

Arlington, VA, March 25, 2013 – Building on the research and experience that has informed decades of children’s programming, PBS KIDS has launched its first app designed specifically for parents to help them build early math and literacy skills for children 4 and under. The app provides more than a dozen games parents can play with their kids, each themed around a familiar location, including the grocery store, restaurant or home. The app not only provides games, but gives parents advice on adapting these games in real-life settings and the option to receive push notifications with more tips for building skills. PBS Parents Play & Learn for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is available on the App Store. The app is also available for Android on Amazon, and now on Google Play and on the NOOK Store™.

Developed by early childhood experts, PBS’ bilingual (English/Spanish) app helps parents build their children’s math skills – including counting, measurement and estimation – and literacy skills, such as letter identification, rhyming and vocabulary. The app divides activities into three stages: baby, toddler and preschool. Since launching earlier this month, it has been downloaded more than 162,000 times. As a free app for mobile devices, PBS Parents Play & Learn offers a resource for families of all income levels.

“Mobile device usage among all communities – including low-income areas – continues to grow; according to a recent WestEd study, more than 60% of low-income parents reported they had access to a smart phone and more than 30% said they had access to a tablet,” said Lesli Rotenberg, General Manager, Children’s Programming, PBS. “While accessibility is critical, children also need parental support, which is why PBS KIDS is committed to offering free content for this platform to help build early reading and math skills. PBS Parents Play & Learn is our newest free resource that offers curriculum-based games and activities for kids and parents to help make anytime a learning time.”

“PBS is committed to innovating across platforms and offering trusted content on mobile is a huge part of that,” said Jason Seiken, General Manager, Digital, PBS. “Our PBS KIDS apps recently exceeded 5 million downloads, and we are excited to build on this success with PBS Parents Play & Learn.”

The PBS Parents Play & Learn app is part of the Ready To Learn Initiative, an early learning project of PBS KIDS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), funded by the U.S. Department of Education to support the development of early math and literacy skills in children ages 2-8, especially those from low-income families. In addition to Ready To Learn funds, PBS Parents Play & Learn also received funding from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a collaboration of foundations, national nonprofits, states and communities that aims to help children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship.

“Through the Ready To Learn Initiative, CPB and PBS KIDS have partnered to create some of the most trusted early math and literacy content, utilizing the technologies children and their families use most, with proven results,” said Debra Sanchez, Senior Vice President, Education and Children’s Content at CPB.  “The PBS Parents Play & Learn mobile app extends the opportunity for learning – no matter where or when – helping every parent and caregiver identify teachable moments in their day-to-day activities to provide their children the necessary foundation for success in school and beyond.”

“We know that parents are their children’s first and most important teachers.  Over the past decade, technology has become an increasingly important tool to help parents support their children’s learning,” said Ralph Smith, Managing Director, Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “We’re pleased to collaborate with PBS KIDS to create a top-quality, educational app that parents can use to develop early literacy skills.”

App Features 

- Key math skills introduced include counting, shape recognition and vocabulary, spatial awareness, measurement, mapping, estimation and more.

- Key literacy skills introduced include letter recognition, phoneme recognition, color recognition, print conventions, rhyming, following verbal directions and more.

- 13 interactive games for 3- and 4-year-olds themed around a location or activity relevant to a child’s everyday life (e.g. grocery store, restaurant, bath time, in the car, playtime, etc.).

- 52 hands-on activities (4 per location) designed to provide parents with easy ways to take advantage of those learning moments that arise every day, whether at home, in a car or bus, or at a destination such as a restaurant, grocery store or library.

- Parent notes accompanying each game provide parents with information about the skills their kids will practice while playing the game, parent engagement tips to maximize a child’s learning potential while playing the game and ideas for extending the learning into the real world.

- A free-play sticker area where kids can click and drag any of 83 stickers into a landscape to create their own scenes. The sticker area also provides parent-child engagement opportunities.

- Completely bilingual, all the text and the voice narration in the app are in both English and Spanish. The app defaults to the language setting of the phone or tablet, but a click of a button allows users to toggle easily between languages at any time.

- Push notifications, which parents can opt to receive, provide additional tips three times per week.

The PBS Parents Play & Learn App is available for free from the App Store on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or at The app is also available for Android phones and tablets, including NOOK® HD and NOOK® HD+, Kindle Fire HD 7 and Kindle Fire HD 8.9. For more details, visit

With engaging content across platforms like PBS Parents Play & Learn, PBS is increasingly serving kids where they live, learn and play – helping to make any time a learning time on mobile devices, on-air, online and beyond.

PBS KIDS, the number one educational media brand for kids, offers all children the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television, online, mobile and community-based programs. Kidscreen- and Webby-award winning provides engaging interactive content, including the PBS KIDS video player, now offering free streaming video accessible on computer- and mobile-device-based browsers. For more information on specific PBS KIDS content supporting literacy, science, math and more, visit, or follow PBS KIDS on Twitter and Facebook.

About CPB
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,400 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services.

About The Ready To Learn Initiative
The Ready To Learn Initiative is a cooperative agreement funded and managed by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. It supports the development of innovative educational television and digital media targeted at preschool and early elementary school children and their families. Its general goal is to promote early learning and school readiness, with a particular interest in reaching low-income children. In addition to creating television and other media products, the program supports activities intended to promote national distribution of the programming, effective educational uses of the programming, community-based outreach and research on educational effectiveness.

About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, launched in early 2011, is a collaboration among foundations, national nonprofits, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. To learn more, visit or follow @readingby3rd on Twitter.

The contents of this release were developed under a grant from the Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

The project is funded by a Ready To Learn grant (PR/AWARD No. U295A100025, CFDA No. 84.295A) provided by the Department of Education to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Maria Vera, PBS KIDS; 703.739.3225;
Caitlin Melnick, 360PR; 617.585.5775;