We love PBS programs here at Barista Kids. We’ve even shared a few of their recent videos, including our favorite featuring Mr. Rogers! And while videos are entertaining, there are also PBS-sanctioned on-line games that are both interactive and educational. And, as an added bonus, local mom Janette Afsharian has developed two of the best that focus on learning Spanish and learning about music. Janette’s website and game development company, Bluemarker, has helped develop Oh Noah! and Chuck Vanderchuck for PBS and Scholastic, Inc, respectively. Also, her team’s work has been nominated for five (5!) Emmies in the last four years, two of which are for Oh Noah!
Oh Noah! combines short videos and games to introduce and reinforce Spanish words using a character who is also learning the language. Noah gets into scrapes because he misunderstands words, and during the story, he learns more Spanish and solves the problem. My kids enjoyed playing the matching games as well as the Word Race game. They were tickled by Noah’s attempts to figure out words and his ability to find trouble. In fact, Noah’s tagline is “How did I ever get into this mess?” It’s accessible, likable, and cute.
Despite being on the young side of the targeted age range of 5-8+ years old, both of my kids loved Chuck VanderChuck, based on a wanna-be music star. They especially loved (watching me play) Road Trip. It was fun, okay? They had a great time watching the new Blues video that talked about origins, instruments used, and influences of the genre. The game we spent the most time on, and the one they could play best on their own, was the “what sounds like what” game. They had to listen to different instruments and identify them. Our favorites were Jazz and Classical.
What I especially liked about both these games is that they are truly interactive. My kids asked questions, and we were able to pause the video or game to replay a sound, practice pronunciation, or talk about the difference between a guitar and a banjo. I appreciated that it wasn’t passive, and it wasn’t frustrating to play. But we wouldn’t expect any less from a Montclair parent! Look for a profile on Janette Afsharian soon!