our blog

Service is More than a Word: Sesame’s Carmen Osbahr on Military Families

By Graydon Gordian


Carmen Osbahr is a performer on Sesame Street. She is best known for her performance of Rosita, a Spanish-speaking monster who has appeared on Sesame Street since 1991. In addition to her work on the show, Carmen plays a major role in Sesame Workshop’s military families initiative. She and Kevin Clash, who performs Elmo, perform for the children of military families at USO shows both in the United States and abroad, making up just one part of the work we do with the USO. We recently sat down with Carmen to learn more about the work she does with the USO and how working with military families became so important to her.

To learn more about the work Sesame Workshop does with military families, click here.

Sesame Workshop: You recently came back from a USO tour. Tell me a bit about the work you’ve done with the USO in the past.

Carmen Osbahr: That was our second tour. The first one was in 2010. At the end of the year we went to Germany, where the USO took us to two military bases. It worked out so well that this time they took us to Guam and Hawaii. It was really cool.

Read More

share this +
printprint
divider

April 05, 2012

Tags
share this +

Sesame Street Celebrates Baseball’s Opening Day

By Graydon Gordian


Baseball season is back and here at Sesame Workshop we’re excited. Ever since the great Jackie Robinson appeared on Sesame Street‘s first season to help children learn the alphabet, baseball and baseball players have been a huge part of keeping our educational content fun and engaging. Baseball has been a demonstrative tool in countless scenes from the show, such as the scene featuring Grover above. Some of the shows most beloved celebrity guests have also been baseball players: Who can forget Mookie Wilson and Keith Hernandez’s appearance in the classic “Put Down the Duckie”?

In order to celebrate Opening Day and the long tradition of featuring baseball on Sesame Street, Sesame Workshop archivist Susan Tofte dug up old photos from some of the times baseball players have hung out with Big Bird, Elmo and the rest of the gang.

share this +
printprint
divider

April 04, 2012

Tags
share this +

Sesame Workshop Supports World Autism Awareness Day

By Graydon Gordian


According to Autism Speaks, a leading autism awareness organization, autism affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys. In the last 40 years the prevalence of autism has grown ten-fold. It affects more children than AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined. That’s why, on Monday, Sesame Workshop was proud to take part in World Autism Awareness day. People around the office wore blue to show our support for the children who are living with autism and the dedicated medical professionals who are working to better understand and help treat it.

share this +
printprint
divider

Keeping the ABCs Relevant: Finding New Ways to Teach Kids to Read and Write!

By Rosemarie Truglio


Ed. Note: This post was authored by Rosemarie Truglio, Jennifer Schiffman, Jennifer Kotler and Susan Scheiner of Sesame Workshop’s Education and Research Department.

N.B. Above is a playlist of Sesame Street ABC segments from throughout the years. Keep watching to see more examples of our educational alphabet content, or use the playlist icon to scroll through and find your favorite.

The alphabet hasn’t changed since Sesame Street first debuted in 1969. No letters have been removed. No new letters have been discovered. Similarly, the importance of providing a foundation for a lifetime of learning is just as important then as it is now. What has changed over time is the expectation for a child once he or she enters kindergarten. We’ve heard countless stories from parents who are concerned that activities that were appropriate for first and second graders have trickled down into kindergarten. Standards are more stringent and expectations are higher. However the country is still facing a literacy crisis, with newspapers around the country citing statistics indicating that many children are entering kindergarten ill-prepared.

Read More

share this +
printprint
divider

The Evolution of a Sesame Street iPad App

By Graydon Gordian


Thorough research provides the foundation of everything Sesame Workshop produces. Whether it’s a book, a game or an episode of our flagship program Sesame Street, our early childhood education experts spend hours working with parents and young children to ensure that all of our educational material, no matter what medium it comes in, is both fun and effective. That policy hasn’t changed as new technologies have allowed us to bring our educational efforts to new venues, such as applications for tablets and smart phones. In fact, the simple nature of updating apps has allowed us to continue scrutinizing the effectiveness of our educational material even after it’s been published.

Take the recently updated version of our first book app for iPad, The Monster at the End of This Book, based on the classic book of the same name. Although the app, made in collaboration with Callaway Digital Arts, was tested before release to ensure that it was educational, navigable and entertaining, we received feedback suggesting some parents and children were not fully utilizing the app’s user interface. Even little hiccups can hamper the effectiveness of an app’s educational aims, so our research team went back and took another look at it. They found there were ways to make the app even more user-friendly.

Read More

share this +
printprint
divider

March 20, 2012

Tags
share this +

Happy Birthday Big Bird: An Interview with Sesame Street’s Caroll Spinney

By Graydon Gordian


Big Bird in 1969, Sesame Street's inaugural year

It’s the first day of Spring. You know what that means? It’s Big Bird’s birthday! In order to celebrate Big Bird’s special day, we spoke with Caroll Spinney, who has played Big Bird, as well as Oscar the Grouch, on the show for 42 years.  During his time on Sesame Street, Mr. Spinney has touched the lives of millions of children. We want to thank him for taking the time to tell us about how he first got started on Sesame Street, how the character of Big Bird evolved and what his favorite memories from the show are.

Sesame Workshop: Tell me how you first got involved with Sesame Street.

Caroll Spinney: Jim Henson saw me doing my own puppet show and came backstage afterwards and asked if I wanted to join the Muppets. As a puppeteer I felt the Muppets were the Beatles of the puppet world. Jim said he wanted to build a goofy bird and also Oscar the Grouch, which was going to be a goofy purple thing that lived in a pile of trash.

Read More

share this +
printprint
divider

March 14, 2012

Tags
share this +

Happy Pi Day!

By Graydon Gordian


It’s Pi Day! We’re not sure how the mathematical constant is celebrating, but for us here at Sesame Workshop it’s a great opportunity to look back at Philip Glass’ “Geometry of Circles,” an animated short from 1979 set to the music of the famous minimalist composer. Using interesting animated shorts like “Geometry of Circles” to explain mathematical concepts is just one of the ways we help prepare children for their primary and secondary education. The origins of a child’s ability to understand complex concepts like pi (when you think about it, the notion of a number with an infinite decimal representation is, in the truest sense of the word, awesome) lies in the introduction to numeracy and basic mathematics that Sesame Street strives to provide.

Happy Pi Day! There ain’t no party like an irrational number party because an irrational number party don’t stop (literally).

share this +
printprint
divider

March 08, 2012

Tags
share this +

The History of Hoops on Sesame Street

By Graydon Gordian


It’s March, which means the country is about to come down with a serious case of basketball fever and here at Sesame Workshop, we’re not immune. Since the show’s second season, basketball players have stopped by Sesame Street to shoot hoops on the basket next to Hooper’s store and instill in young children a love of learning. In anticipation of March Madness, Sesame Workshop archivist Susan Tofte dug up photos of some of the basketball players who’ve hung out with Big Bird, Oscar and the rest of the gang over the years.

02_ny_knicks_sized

Picture 1 of 5

When Mike Riordan, Dick Barnett and Walt Frazier of the 1970 New York Knicks appeared on season 2 of Sesame Street, they were the first basketball players to come on the show.

share this +
printprint
divider

February 27, 2012

Tags
share this +

Tweeting the Clouds Away

By Dan Lewis


Tomorrow  – February 28th – we’ll be trying something new here at Sesame Workshop. A few of us are going to be tweeting about what we’re up to, giving others a glimpse into the work we do here at Sesame Workshop.  We’re visiting potential funders, working on handwashing habits in Indonesia, preparing for an event Thursday (stay tuned!), and a few other things.  If you follow us on Twitter at @SesameWorkshop, we’ll be retweeting some of the updates from:

  • Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, @srwestin
  • Patrick Key, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships and Development, @PatrickKeySW
  • Dan Donohue, Senior Director, Global Education, @DJD007NYC
  • Giao Roever, Director, Marketing and Creative Services, @GiaoRoever
  • And me, Dan Lewis, Director, New Media Communications, @DanDotLewis

See you tomorrow!

share this +
printprint
divider

February 24, 2012

Tags
share this +

This Week in Sesame Street: Gordon and African-American Fatherhood

By Graydon Gordian


Matt Robinson, Hal Miller, and Roscoe Orman, who have all played Sesame Street's Gordon.

Thursday was the birthday of Gordon, the beloved father figure to the children and monsters that live on Sesame Street. Over the years Gordon has been played by different men: Matt Robinson, Hal Miller and, currently, Roscoe Orman.  In addition to their warmth, kindness and strength, they’ve all had one thing in common: Matt, Hal and Roscoe are all African-American. This is hardly a coincidence. The character Gordon was conceived with the intention of presenting a more positive, dignified image of African-American masculinity than many children were exposed to at the time. In honor of Black History Month and Gordon’s birthday, we’re taking a look back at the social significance and impact of the character Gordon.

When Joan Ganz Cooney conceived of Sesame Street, she did so in the wake of 1965’s Moynihan Report, a report by Assistant Secretary of Labor and future U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The report claimed that, in the black community, a combination of out-of-wedlock births and absentee fathers were creating a cycle of poverty. If the show was going to fulfill its mission of providing early childhood education for underserved communities, it was going to have to tackle the questions surrounding the black family head on.

Gordon Robinson, who was named after photographer, filmmaker and civil rights activist Gordon Parks, and his wife Susan were the answer. As Roscoe Orman, who has played Gordon on Sesame Street since 1974, wrote in his memoirs, “what the character most significantly symbolizes, his most distinguishing and praiseworthy attribute, may lie in the simple fact that he is a man of African descent who for over three decades has been a respected and beloved father figure to young people of all races and all social classes all across America and beyond.” When the show began, many portrayals of African-American males in television, film and media were largely negative, whereas, in the words of Orman, Gordon “provided a model of patience, understanding, and civic responsibility.”

Michael Davis, the author of Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, even suggested that Gordon may have served as a model for President Barack Obama when he worked as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago.

Meanwhile Susan, Gordon’s wife, served as an exemplary model of African-American womanhood and together they created an enduring image of a black family that is loving and stable.

share this +
printprint
divider