family activities

Iowa PBS Resources for Home Learning

Mar 17, 2020

Iowa PBS is here to support you in providing learning opportunities that you can be confident using with your children during school closures. We will continue to add more resources as they become available. We're dedicated to helping Iowa's parents find necessary resources so please reach out to us via Facebook or email educational_resources@iowapbs.org if you have specific questions or resource needs.

General Elementary

  • Coloring Pages and Printables: Your children can connect to and discuss their favorite PBS KIDS shows by using these free educational coloring pages and printable activities.

Grades K-2

Literacy

Art and Storytelling

  • Put on a Puppet Show: Puppet shows allow children to experiment with storytelling and imagination. Explore the basic elements of storytelling while you craft Peg-themed puppets and a theater for your show.

Coding and Storytelling

  • PBS KIDS ScratchJr: With PBS KIDS ScratchJr, kids can create their own interactive stories and games featuring their favorite characters from Wild Kratts, Nature Cat, WordGirl and Peg + Cat! The storytelling possibilities are endless with this creative coding app for children ages 5-8. By snapping together colorful programming blocks, children can make characters move, jump, dance and sing. In the process, kids will learn to solve problems, design projects and express themselves creatively on a tablet. With PBS KIDS ScratchJr, children don’t just learn to code, they code to learn.

Mathematics

  • A House Just Right for Me:  When your child compares objects in their environment and uses terms like “bigger," "smaller," "wider" and "taller;" they are laying the foundation for understanding measurements. A fun way to practice measurement skills with your child is by building a house for a toy or for a favorite fictional character like the Cat in the Hat!
  • Create and Crack Codes for Pattern Practice:  Spotting tricky patterns and cracking secret codes is the only way to solve some of the oddest cases that land at Odd Squad Headquarters, and now it’s training time for agents everywhere. Only with careful practice can agents hone their pattern-sleuthing skills to put things right every time — and potentially become a Patternista like their fearless leader, Ms. O.

Science

  • Make Paper Planes to Glide like a Draco: The draco lizard is able to glide from tree to tree using special “wings” that evolved out of its ribs. In this activity, your child can explore the science of gliding with a simple paper airplane experiment.
  • Build a Better Bunny-Copter: Help your child build a twirling bunny-copter! It will help them learn how to recognize the value of refining and optimizing an existing invention to improve its performance.
  • Iowa PBS STEAM Activity Book Website: With the Iowa PBS STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) Activity Book website you can start your STEAM adventure or continue your learning together with online games to support you and your child’s learning.

For more PBS apps and activities, visit pbskids.org/apps/ and pbs.org/parents/activity-finder/ages-all/topics-all/shows-all/types-all.

Grades 3-5

Literacy

  • Play a Storytelling Game:  Several of the historical figures Xavier, Brad and Yadina meet on their adventures were storytellers themselves. In this activity, your child will use their imagination and practice storytelling by rolling homemade dice to tell a unique story! Each roll will designate an image on each of the three dice, which will become your story elements. Take turns telling a complete story by combining the three story pieces in any creative way you can.

Coding and Storytelling

  • PBS KIDS ScratchJr: With PBS KIDS ScratchJr, kids can create their own interactive stories and games featuring their favorite characters from Wild Kratts, Nature Cat, WordGirl and Peg + Cat! The storytelling possibilities are endless with this creative coding app for children ages 5-8. By snapping together colorful programming blocks, children can make characters move, jump, dance and sing. In the process, kids will learn to solve problems, design projects and express themselves creatively on a tablet. With PBS KIDS ScratchJr, children don’t just learn to code, they code to learn.

Coding and Mathematics

  • SciGirls Code Quest: Take Subbie the Submarine on an underwater coding adventure in the SciGirls Code Quest game!

Art and Mathematics

  • Create Geometric Circle Art: Can a circle be created from a series of straight lines? The answer is yes! Odd Squad agents frequently use geometry to crack tough cases, but shapes are more than tools for the job. In this activity, your child can make beautiful circle art using a ruler to draw straight lines.

STEM

  • Design Squad Global — Building Activities: Have your child think about what they could design and build based upon their interests. These activities use common household materials to engage your child in various STEM skills.
  • Friction Racing: Friction is a natural, unseen force that slows things down. However, not all surfaces will slow objects at the same rate. If you roll a ball across gravel or a rough sidewalk, it will slow down sooner than if you roll it across a smooth floor or ice. In this activity, your child will build a ramp and then use a toy car to test which of two surfaces has the least amount of resistance or friction.
  • Create a Family Water Conservation Plan: In this activity, your child will learn water-saving tips, then create a plan to conserve water by making small changes at home.
  • Iowa PBS STEAM Activity Book Website: With the Iowa PBS STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) Activity Book website you can start your STEAM adventure or continue your learning together with online games to support you and your child’s learning.

For more PBS apps and activities, visit pbskids.org/apps/ and pbs.org/parents/activity-finder/ages-all/topics-all/shows-all/types-all.

Grades 6-12

Use these resources with your middle and high school children to spark discussion and conversation. Consider watching the video clips together or having your child watch the clips and share their perspective with you.

History/Social Studies

  • Experiences of Orphan Train Rider: Between 1854 and 1929, nearly a quarter of a million children from the east coast of the United States were resettled under what came to be known as the Orphan Train Movement. This collection of video segments from the West by Orphan Train documentary explores the origins of the movement and the experiences of the young riders through archival photographs, historical re-enactments, expert interviews and first-person accounts from Orphan Train riders. This resource contains the following support materials:
    • Discussion questions
    • Transcripts
  • Alexander Clark and an African-American's Fight for Civil Rights: Because of the actions of Alexander Clark, Iowa's schools were desegregated more than 85 years before the rest of the nation officially outlawed school segregation. This collection of video segments from the Lost in History: Alexander Clark documentary explores Clark's historic court victory, his prominent anti-slavery role, his recruitment of black soldiers for the Union in the Civil War and his appointment as a U.S. ambassador to Liberia. This resource contains the following support materials:
    • Transcripts
    • Background essays
  • An Oral History of the Tinker v. Des Moines Schools Decision: Mary Beth Tinker was a 13-year-old junior high school student in December 1965 when she, her 15-year-old brother John and their friend Christopher Eckhardt, 16, wore black armbands to school to protest the war in Vietnam. That decision led the students and their families to embark on a four-year court battle that culminated in the landmark 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision that defined free speech rights for public school students, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. This collection features interviews with John and Mary Beth Tinker as they recount their experiences and motivations during this important milestone for first amendment rights. This resource contains the following support materials:
    • Transcripts
    • Background essays
  • Rural Midwest Farm Life During the Great Depression and Early 20th Century: These segments from Iowa PBS's documentary The People in the Pictures: Stories from the Wettach Farm Photos feature original photography and first-person accounts of farm life in rural America during the Great Depression and early twentieth century. This resource contains the following support materials:
    • Transcripts
    • Guide with links to additional online resources
  • Iowa’s World War II Stories: More than 276,000 Iowans went into military service during World War II. 8,398 never returned. Thousands more who remained at home played major roles in winning the war. The sacrifices of each of these Iowans helped determine the political and social conditions that would exist once the war ended. Iowa PBS's production of Iowa's World War II Stories preserves some of the memories of those who put their lives on hold in the fight against the Axis powers. This resource contains the following support materials:
    • Transcripts
    • Guide with links to additional online resources
  • Iowans Remember the Vietnam War: The Vietnam War Stories collection examines one of the most turbulent times in American history from the perspective of those who were there, both on the battlefield and at home. Produced by Iowa PBS as part of the Iowans Remember Vietnam documentary, each segment includes archival footage and interviews with veterans and citizens of the era. Viewer Note: These segments feature first-hand accounts from military and civilians. Participants reflect on their wartime experiences and tally the emotional toll. We recommend previewing this material prior to use with your children. This resource contains the following support materials:
    • Transcripts
    • Guide with links to additional online resources
  • The History of the Iowa Caucuses: This collection from Iowa PBS’s Caucus Iowa: Journey to the Presidency documentary explores how Iowa became the political epicenter and first major electoral event for the United States presidential nomination process. The collection includes recent interviews with political leaders, campaign staff and journalists from across the country on their memories of caucus campaigns in Iowa. This resource contains the following support materials:
    • Transcripts
    • Discussion questions
    • Guide with links to additional online resources
  • Experiences of Freedom Summer Volunteers: In the summer of 1964, hundreds of predominantly white college students answered the call from civil rights leaders to volunteer for the Freedom Summer Project. They participated in voter registration efforts, taught in freedom schools and worked in community centers in towns throughout racially segregated Mississippi. This PBS LearningMedia collection of video segments from the Iowans Return to Freedom Summer documentary features first-person accounts from Iowa participants in this historic civil rights event. This resource contains the following support materials:
    • Transcripts
    • Discussion questions
    • Guide with links to additional online resources
  • Iowa Soldiers Remember Afghanistan: The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 sparked a response that came to be known as the Global War on Terror. This included military operations in Afghanistan to dismantle terrorist networks, disable enemy forces and help Afghan leaders take control of their country. Led by full-time U.S. Military soldiers, the coalition of international forces assumed primary responsibility for engaging a largely unseen enemy in Afghanistan. The coalition was supported by Army National Guard and reserve units from every state in the Union, including Iowa. In July of 2010, Iowa mobilized nearly 3,000 soldiers. This was the largest, single deployment of Iowa’s troops since World War II. Viewer Note: These segments feature first-hand accounts from military and civilians. Participants reflect on their wartime experiences and tally the emotional toll. We recommend previewing this material prior to use with your children. This resource contains the following support materials:
    • Transcripts
    • Guide with links to additional online resources

History/Social Studies/Agriculture Education

  • The 1980s Farm Crisis: The Farm Crisis is a 90-minute film produced by Iowa PBS that examines the economic and personal disasters that afflicted the agriculture sector in the 1980s. This resource contains the following support materials:
    • Transcripts Guide with activity ideas, project-based challenges, discussion questions, rubrics and links to additional online resources 

Agriculture Education/Business/Government/STEM

  • Market to Market Classroom: Market to Market Classroom connects your curriculum with stories about the science, technology, culture and business of agriculture from the nation's longest-running agribusiness television program. This resource contains the following support materials:
    • Transcripts Guide with activity ideas, discussion questions, rubrics and links to additional online resources

STEM

  • Iowa Land and Sky: Iowa Land and Sky brings viewers a unique perspective of the state's landforms, rivers and towns. The collection presents an entertaining and educational exploration of Iowa’s natural environments and environmental challenges. The visuals and stories created through the project help students better understand and appreciate the ecological and geological diversity of Iowa. This resource contains the following support materials:
    • Transcripts
    • Background essays
    • Compelling questions to guide investigation
  • Explore More: Explore More is a multimedia project designed to engage students in problems they can relate to, provide compelling content for investigation and give students opportunities to form their own points of view. The project features engaging topics, an issue-driven approach and a variety of technology resources. Topics include The Future of Energy, Working Landscapes and Water Quality. These resources contains the following support materials:
    • Transcripts
    • Background essays
    • Discussion questions

For more activities, visit iowapbs.org/education and iowa.pbslearningmedia.org.