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Author Archives: Monique VanLandingham

July 30, 2014

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Sesame Street Explores National Parks

By Monique VanLandingham

Editor’s note: This post is by Monique VanLandingham, Interpretation and Education, National Park Service.

This week, Elmo discussed the great outdoors with Katie Couric. Their conversation happened at a perfect  time because summer is a great time to explore the outdoors..  There are puddles to splash in, baby animals to discover, and the wonders of nature to explore.  Summer’s also a perfect time to enjoy our country’s national parks, local parks, and even the adventures that can be found in your own backyard. The National Park Service (NPS) and the National Park Foundation (NPF), its nonprofit partner, have teamed up with Sesame Street to inspire kids to do just that.

Together, NPS, NPF, and Sesame Workshop created a multimedia experience for children, educators and families to help kids learn more about science and nature and encourage them to get outdoors. In Sesame Street Explores National Parksreal life park rangers interact with beloved Sesame Street characters Elmo and Murray as they introduce children to the natural world of habitats, animal families, and the changing of the seasons.

Research shows that many children are now lacking opportunities for positive experiences with nature, and that this lack of interaction with their natural surroundings can lead to troubling results such as attention difficulties, a diminished use of the senses, and a lack of physical activity that can contribute to higher rates of childhood obesity.

 Sesame Street Explores National Parks helps reverse those trends and supports learning about the natural world and science. Sesame Street Explores National Parks comprises:

* A series of six short videos, featuring  awe-inspiring footage of Grand Canyon National Park and Gateway National Recreation Area (NYC), in which Murray Monster, Elmo and a park ranger highlight scientific inquiry skills through science and nature topics relevant to both the national parks (Grand Canyon and Gateway) and local park or backyard settings.

* Printables, including a nature journal, a scavenger hunt, nature badge, coloring page, and a vocabulary sheet; that parents and caregivers can print out and enjoy with their preschoolers

* View-and-do activities for parents, caregivers and educators (including park rangers) that extend the learning experience of each of the videos by offering concrete, developmentally appropriate ways to help young children to learn more about the topics introduced by the videos;

Parents love that the Sesame Street Explores National Parks materials are age-appropriate and family friendly.  Parents are also delighted that the activities give them opportunities to engage as a family and interact with their little ones. There’s nothing quite like watching a four-year-old singing along with the lively song, or pretending to be a park ranger.  But best of all, Sesame Street Explores National Parks is just plain fun for everyone!

By visiting the National Park Service website, www.nps.gov, families can find out what is happening in nearby parks.  Each park hosts a calendar of events detailing – mostly FREE!! – activities for visitors of all ages.  Get out there! Get active! And enjoy all that your national parks offer.

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