RTL Play & Learn Science Activities

RTL Play & Learn Science Activities

Fri, 01/22/2021 - 5:00pm - Fri, 12/31/2021 - 5:00pm

Dot, Del, Dee blowing bubbles

WXXI Education pulled together a series of resources so support the use of the PBS KIDS Play & Learn Science app. The goal with these resources is to create playful, hands-on activities and experiences that children, families, and educators can use along with the app. There are songs, books and ebooks, short videos, activity ideas, and more.

To create, curate, and pilot these materials, WXXI Education partnered with Nazareth College Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, Rochester Childfirst Network, RCSD Rochester Early Childhood Education Center, and Monroe County Library System and Rochester Public Libraries. 

WXXI Education used the below materials to implement PBS KIDS Play & Learn Science Family & Community Learning (FCL) series. To learn more about both the Family & Community Learning model and to find the full facilitator guide for the PBS KIDS Play & Learn Science FCL series, visit: Family & Community Learning with Play & Learn | RTL 2015-2020. And if you have any additional questions, please contact: Cara Rager, WXXI's Manager of Educational Training & Family Engagement at CRager@wxxi.org. 



Play & Learn Science App | Ramp & Roll | Shadow Play | Weather & Gear | Water Play | Other Support Resources



PBS KIDS Play & Learn Science App

Play with shadows, control the weather, roll and slide objects down a ramp, choose the best materials for an umbrella – all while building science inquiry skills and learning core science concepts. The games in the app encourage kids to see the science in their world. The free app includes 15 mini-games covering core topics in Earth Science, Physical Science, and Life Science - from "Sink or Float" to "Explore the Roll" to "Guess the Shadow" to "Thermometer Picking" to "Gear Up". The app also has a parent section with tips for parent-child engagement and activities for extending the learning into the real world, and is available in English and Spanish. 


Download the App


Ramp and Roll explores how objects move, roll, slide and/or stay put on ramps and other surfaces

  • PBS Play & Learn Science Mini-Games: Play the following games in the app: "Explore the Roll", "Hit the Target", and "Surface Challenge"
  • Hands-on Activities: 
    • Create a ramp using recycled materials (cardboard tubes, cereal boxes) or using items you have around (books, pillows, clipboards).
    • Test different objects (balls, marbles, blocks) to see if they roll down your ramp.
    • Add different materials to your ramp to change the surface (bubble wrap, a blanket, sandpaper). Does your object still roll? Does it roll the same?
    • Race different objects to see which object rolls the farthest?
    • Go on a ramp hunt - look around inside and outside for different kinds of ramps.
  • Connected Book:  
  • Videos:
    • Ramp-n-Roll (0:51) - George must figure out how to build a ramp so that Hundley, a little dachshund, can get out of a basement window in this video excerpt from Curious George: Hundley’s Great Escape. 
    • Building Ramps (1:28) - In this video segment from PEEP and the Big Wide World, real kids explore what types of objects will slide down ramps of different materials.
    • Rolling Down a Hill (1:28) - Real kids discover what types of round objects will roll the fastest down a grassy hill, a piece of cardboard, and a sidewalk in this video segment from PEEP and the Big Wide World. 
    • Homemade Hills (1:27) - In this video segment from PEEP and the Big Wide World, real kids explore what types of objects will slide down ramps of different materials.
    • The Watchamacallit (8:50) - Peep, Quack, and Chirp discover how ramps and slides work by using angles and round objects, in this video segment from PEEP and the Big Wide World.
    • Super Grover 2.0 Digital Ramp (0:27) - Join Super Grover to learn about ramps. Ramps help you go from low to high. 

Explore light and shadows by making and observing shadows, making and interacting with shadow puppets, and playing with flashlights

  • PBS KIDS Play & Learn Science Mini-Games: Play the following games in the app: "Exploring Shadows", "Shadow Scenes", or "Guess the Shadow".
  • Hands-on Activities:
    • Use a flashlight or another light (lamp, cell phone or tablet flashlight) to create hand or full body shadows.
    • Use the PBS KIDS Shadow Puppets to make shadows.
    • Move objects closer to the flashlight and then further away, what happens?
    • Tape a piece of paper to a wall or door. Use a flashlight or lamp to create a shadow, try tracing the shadow on the paper with a pencil or crayon.
    • Play "Guess the Shadow". Use different objects (try using the PBS KIDS Puppets) to make a shadow and then try to guess what or who the shadow belongs to. 
    • Host a shadow puppet show!
  • Printables: 
  • Connected Books:
    • Moonbear's Shadow by Frank Asch
    • The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers
    • Shadow Play books
  • Videos: 
    • My Shadow Goes Where I Go (1:30) - In this short video from The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, children learn about energy and light. Nick and Sally create shadow puppets and sing a song about where your shadow can go! No matter where you go, you're shadow will be there!
    • Shadows Can be Scary (2:23) - Daniel Tiger sees a scary shadow on the wall, but Dad shows him that shadows can be fun. Teach kids that being brave and investigating scary things together helps make things seem not as bad
    • A Thing or 2 About Making Shade (1:30) - This short video from The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, teaches about physical science, energy, and light. Thing 1 tries clear, tinted, and opaque glass, to create a shade for Thing 2. He decides that opaque glass provides the best shade, and relief from the sun.
    • How to Make Shadow Puppets (2:11) - Make your own shadow theater with just a few household items! Mya shows your how to make some neat shadow puppets, and tells the story of the dinosaurs in her own low-lit play.

Explore the weather by observing, matching appropriate gear and clothing for certain weather, and experimenting with thermometers and temperature.

  • PBS KIDS Play & Learn Science Mini-Games: Play the following games in the app: "Read the Temperature", "Weather Controller", "Thermometer Picking", "Photo Weather", "Gear Up", and "The Amazing Umbrella"
  • Hands-on Activities
    • Roll the weather cube. Use Del and Dee Dress Up Characters and Gear to put different outfits ont the character that matches the weather.
    • Track a week's weather using the "Today's Weather" printable or a sheet of paper.
    • Hot vs. Cold weather experiment: Use a thermometer to test something really cold (ice cubes or snow) vs. something warm (hand warmers, something put in the microwave). What happens to the thermometer?
    • Roll the weather cube. Find items in your house (winter hat, goggles) that you can wear to match the weather on the cube. 
  • Connected Books:
    • Weather by Jill McDonald
    • All About Weather: A First Weather Book for Kids by Huda Harajli MA
    • Weather books
  • Printables: 
  • Videos: 
    • Poem: "Big Snow" (0:18) - This video segment from Between the Lions is an animated poem that rhymes. Snow falls all over the city and then a snow plow pushes snow. 
    • Bert is All Dressed Up for Winter (2:51) - Get your galoshes on your head, your gloves on your ears, and get those earmuffs around your waist. Earmuffs around your waist? No, no, no, they've got it all wrong. Hopefully, Bert can figure out how to get dressed for winter so he doesn't end up with a cold.
    • Clouds & Weather (2:15) - This video, featuring original stop-motion animation, is a fun way for children to learn about different types of clouds and their relationship to weather. 
    • What is Weather? (2:16) - Abby Brown loves to help kids have fun while learning! In this segment, Abby teaches kids about weather. Kids learn to observe the air and and sky as well as a thermometer in order to evaluate the weather.
    • Meet the Helpers: Meterologist (2:35) - Dive deeper into a meteorologist's career and find out how this Helper assists in emergency situations. 

Explore how different objects float or sink and notice how water moves through different kinds of spaces.

  • PBS KIDS Play & Learn Science Mini-Games: Play the following games in the app: "Water Wall", "Thirsty Doggie", and "Sink or Float"
  • Hands-on Activities
    • Use aluminum foil or recycled containers to create boats. Test whether they float in the sink, bucket, or bathtub.
    • Add pennies or washers to your boats to see if they can hold weight.
    • Find a variety of objects (pennies, pencil, crayon, ball, race car) and use a sink, bucket, or bathtub to test whether objects sink or float. Make guesses before testing.
  • Printables: 
  • Connected Books:
  • Videos: 
    • Do Try This At Home: Make a Boat (1:30) - In this short video from The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, children learn about motion and stability: forces and interactions. Nick and Sally test some objects in their backyard wading pool, to see what will float and what won't. 
    • Sink or Float (1:33) - Show students how easy it is to experiment while introducing them to the concept of buoyancy, in this fun video demonstration. Students are asked whether they think an item will sink or float, the item is then dropped into a fish tank, and the results are charted.
    • Sink or Float Experiment (1:03) - Learn about household objects that sink and float in this easy-to-prepare activity with The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!
    • The Fish Museum (8:52) - In this video segment from PEEP and the Big Wide World, Quack learns about what objects float and sink as he tries to add objects to his underwater fish museum.
    • Making Things Float (1:27) - In this video segment from PEEP and the Big Wide World, real kids explore what types of objects float in water and how to keep sinking objects from staying afloat.
    • Make a Boat (1:28) - Real kids learn how to make their plastic bottle boats sink and float by adding different objects and water to them in this video segment from PEEP and the Big Wide World. 

Other Support Resources 

Books & eBooks: Our friends at Monroe County Library System pulled together a few lists of books and ebooks to help support these fun topics!


Through the Ready To Learn (RTL) Initiative, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), PBS, and local PBS stations provide free, evidence-based educational resources that help teachers, caregivers and parents build early science and literacy skills for America’s children, especially those from low-income communities. This U.S. Department of Education-funded initiative introduces children to key STEM concepts early, which better prepares them for school and boosts their long-term education opportunities. This content was developed under a grant from the Department of Education. However, the 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. U295A150003-18, CFDA No. 84.295A) provided by the Department of Education to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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