school year cheat sheet

rich, diverse digital resources for learning: PBS LearningMedia

So many times–without thinking–I look to those old standbys when I am searching for information on the web.

Whether it’s just the basics or for cool multi-media clips to clarify Maddy, Owen, or Cora’s learning from school or the random questions in their heads, I’ll admit it: I often get lazy.

I’ll turn on the computer, talk to them about some basic search term ideas, and see what we can find. And there are definitely advantages to searching a huuuge database of information, but there are definitely downsides as well, like safety, reliability, quality.

Numerous times, I’ve literally speed-scrolled through our search results to hide what I don’t want the kids to see.  Please note: never ‘image search’ ghosts or vampires or witches while your kids are sitting next to you–(WHY would I have done that?). Anyway, if you do, you’ll pay dearly at 2 am when no one can sleep.

As a teacher, I know that there are better ways.  I know that there are sites rich with extensive libraries of reliable resources.  Sites with photos and clips and slideshows that align to the common core or state standards, complete with lesson plans and extensions.

But I also know that many of those cost a ton of mulah to join.

I’ve recently been made aware of a site, however, that is so awesome, so clear, and so filled with 16,000+ pieces of digital media resources for learning–and it’s totally free.

PBS LearningMedia is here. And it’s for everyone to use–parents, teachers, students, grandparents, caregivers, anyone and everyone.  And it’s free. Free, free, free.

This New For Us Friday, I’m sharing this site with you, you, you. And I’m hoping that you’ll love it so much, you’ll share it with anyone and everyone, including your kiddos’ teachers, your own students, other parents, and your colleagues.

Here’s the skinny:

  • Rich, Diverse, FREE!! Digital Resources for Learning–PBS LearningMedia: I have known about PBS LearningMedia for some time now, and I have been reaching for it more often than not when Maddy, Owen, or Cora have questions.

We have talked only briefly about determining reliable and valid sources (a concept tough for little ones, no doubt), but we have touched on it nonetheless–especially when they blurt out, “Let’s Google it!”  But we’ve also taken measures over here to keep our kiddos safe online.  It’s not always easy, and it definitely takes effort.

 Cora’s weekly school magazine focused on penguins. So ‘penguins’ was our first PBS LearningMedia search.


When my kids see or hear ‘PBS’ they know it’s something safe. They know it’s something okay.  They know it’s familiar and fun. They can repeat the PBS commercials verbatim since they’ve really only watched PBS programming for the greater part–if not the entire part–of their little lives.

So when Cora came home last week with her weekly magazine focusing on penguins, and after she had spurted out all of the facts she knew about penguins, and after she confessed that she really, really loved penguins, I thought it might be a good time to ride the penguin wave. I went to PBS LearningMedia.

I typed in ‘penguins’ and a screen full of resources appeared, resources ranging from preK-13+.

Together, we watched a video of penguins waddling around, of African penguins, and more.

And Cora was engaged. She was interested. She ran to find her magazine, and she pointed at the pictures of penguins growing from babies to adults, and then she watch the penguins waddling on the video. We talked about penguins for a long while, making connections to the penguin books we know (like My Penguin Osbert, by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel) and we laughed about the ridiculously silly movie we just watched, Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

It wasn’t anything crazy–but it was time well-spent. It was fabulous for me to be able to click ‘favorite’ on the videos that we watched and save them to my free account so that she can watch them any time.

I liked the ease and reach of this site, and I look forward to introducing it to Maddy and Owen.  And I know exactly where we’re starting. . .


Okay, so what IS PBS LearningMedia? Essentially, it’s a free, online, ‘media-on-demand’ site that:

  • brings together over 18,000+ lesson plans (aligned to the Common Core State Standards–woot!), videos, audio recordings, background essays, and discussion questions for PreK-12 educators and home-schoolers;
  • houses resources which were produced specifically for educators, by public broadcasting producers and programs (that we love!) like NASA, National Archives, WGBH, NOVA, Frontline, American Experience, and Sid the Science Kid;
  • is free to anyone who registers on the site–educators, homeschoolers, parents!;
  • is really an awesome alternative to the ‘blind’ search for information on the web!

In order to celebrate the awesomeness of PBS LearningMedia and to spread the word about this great resource, we’ll be rockin’ a Twitter event next week, and we’d love for you to join us!

We will be tweeting along with the peeps who are attending FETC–the Flordia Educational Technology Conference–and, of course, our friends from PBS.  (And shhhh! there will even be some special guests jumping in on the par-tay as well. . . ).  Join us–and please don’t be nervous! Anyone and everyone can join Twitter events–you’ll be fine AND you’ll have fun!!


PBS Kids LearningMedia Twitter Event

Join me next week, on Tuesday, January 24 from 7-8 pm EST for an exciting Twitter event where we will be talking about how to engage all types of learners, how to enhance learning at home or in the classroom with digital media, and all of the cool things you can find on PBS LearningMedia.

What: PBS LearningMedia Twitter Event

When: Tuesday, January 24 from 7-8 pm EST  (with a post-party on the we teach forum!)

Where: #PBSLrnMedia


Why: For fun conversation about learning styles, digital media, and using PBS LearningMedia at home and in the classroom, and the chance to win prizes that include three PBS LearningMedia prize packs, and a KINDLE!

RSVP: You must RSVP in order to win prizes, so click on  OR scan the qr code to the right.

Looking forward to chatting with you on Tuesday night!

fyi: My opinions here, as always, are all my own, influenced only by my experiences as a parent and educator.  This event is being sponsored by PBS, and we hope you’ll join us!

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Comment (6) | Leave a comment

  1. Wow – fantastic resource! Will absolutely check it out, join and USE! thanks so very much :)

    • yay, Jeanne!! Glad to hear it–and I do hope to ‘tweet’ with you next Tuesday!!

  2. I clicked over to check it out before I even finished your post. Great resource! My Jeb thinks everything is a dotcom. He’ll frequently want information and say something like, “Mama, can you go to to find out why airplanes crash?” So funny. Glad to have something besides google to answer his questions. Thank you for your blog. I don’t say it enough…but I always learn something when I come here.

    • BRANDY!! Thanks for sharing–this made me laugh so hard!! What a riot! You rock, my friend–you always seem to write just the right things, at the absolute perfect time. Needed this tonight. Thank you. xoxo

  3. I love this site too. The lesson plans are awesome. I do get frustrated sometimes that lessons are planned around videos that have to be purchased or ordered. I don’t always have a 4-6 week window to allow for shipping.


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