J Milligan is the Creative Director of Sesame Workshop’s Innovation Lab.
A couple of years ago I heard a woman named Margaret Robertson give an amazing talk at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. She worked for a design studio called Hide & Seek with offices in London and New York that was chiefly interested in the concept play. They seemed really cool and I started following them, thinking that someday we might find a way to work with them on something.
This past spring, Hide & Seek launched a Kickstarter campaign for a project called Tiny Games. It was for: “An app that gets you playing the perfect game with your friends: wherever you are, whoever you’re with, whatever you’re doing.” The games took place in the real world, the iPhone just told you how to play. Get some cutlery and play a form of rock/paper/scissors with the forks, spoons and knives. That sort of thing. I loved how they used the phone to generate games that you played with friends and things wherever you were, not on the screen. I thought we could do something like that for parents to play with their kids. And when Hide & Seek posted that they were considering a “Kids” section of the app, I knew I had to act quickly. Read More
Pam Thomas is an editor in Sesame Workshop’s Book Publishing department and the author of several cookbooks.
Cooking with kids is not only an excellent way to find delectable “quality time” with the family, it’s a perfect tactic for sneaking in teachable moments, all while mixing up a batch of good-for-you muffins! How about math: How many cookies make a dozen? Or science: Why does butter melt when it’s put over heat? How does a cake rise when it’s put in an oven? Literacy: What foods begin with the letter “C”? And even a bit of etiquette: Let’s set a pretty table for supper! Or, let’s take a plate of cookies to the nice lady who lives next door!
And then, of course, there’s the whole issue of good health as it relates to food. Research has shown that Sesame Street’s furry, friendly, familiar characters can have a powerful influence over young children, guiding them to develop positive eating habits and to delight in exercise—strong ingredients for lifelong health. Sesame Street’s ongoing initiative, “Healthy Habits for Life,” proves that young children are more interested in healthy foods and good eating practices when these subjects are reinforced in fun, creative, colorful, and active ways. That’s what Sesame Street cookbooks have strived to achieve. Read More
Jason Milligan is the Creative Director of Sesame Workshop’s Innovation Lab.
“Kids won’t know what that is!”
It wasn’t the first time I heard Sesame Workshop Curriculum Specialist Sue Scheiner say that, but this time it threw me a bit. We were reviewing Elmo’s World episodes to include in Season 2 of Kinect Sesame Street TV. Sue was referring to a camera. The camera was an old fashioned black box with a huge flashbulb attached. And one old fashioned camera in Mr. Noodle’s hands wouldn’t have mattered so much if any of the cameras in the piece looked and worked like current cameras do. But they didn’t. They were clunky film cameras and video cameras with tapes. There was a scene in which a kid takes film to a store to have it “developed.”
Not one person in the entire episode took a picture with a phone, or was able to immediately show Elmo his image on the back. The way today’s kids experience digital photography (often on smart phones) is completely, utterly, totally different than it was only a few years ago, apparently when this episode of Elmo’s World was made in 2005. Seriously. I checked the air date. It freaked me out a little. The same way it freaked me out when my niece pointed to a phone booth in a video and asked my sister what it was. Or when I explained to my kids how television used to show programs at certain times of day and you couldn’t pause or rewind or even decide which show you wanted to watch right now. Sue is right. Kids don’t know what those things are. Some Sesame content will always be relevant. Ernie will always be able to sing about the joys of bathing with his Duckie. C will always be for Cookie. But not this.
We couldn’t use Elmo’s World: Cameras. It was simply out of date.
It began with television. Sesame Workshop co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney looked at the television and realized we could be utilizing this powerful, evolving form of technology to educate children. 43 years later a willingness to use technology in groundbreaking ways remains a major reason why Sesame Workshop is an effective educational organization.
With that legacy of innovation in mind, we are proud to announce a new collaboration with Qualcomm centered on researching and developing new ways to educate children using mobile devices and applications. By bringing together Qualcomm’s cutting-edge mobile technologies and Sesame Workshop’s expertise in educating young children, Qualcomm and Sesame hope once again to revolutionize early childhood education. Read More
CA Technologies Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Wittman and Super Grover 2.0
Students in the United States are falling behind their peers globally in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM. That is why Sesame Workshop and CA Technologies, a leading IT management solutions company, have partnered to encourage young children to focus on STEM learning even before they reach kindergarten. Read More
Touch screen technology is revolutionizing interactive digital experiences for children. No longer do our little ones need to wait to learn to navigate a mouse or press keyboard keys in order to access a host of interactive content designed for them. Instead, we see toddlers and preschoolers confidently navigating their parents’ iPhones, iPads, and other touch screen devices with astonishing agility and purpose. The explosion of apps for young children is not surprising; there is high demand and high appeal.
Sesame Workshop, whose mission is to help children reach their highest potential, is learning as much as we can about these media platforms so that we can use them to best meet children’s educational and developmental needs. We scour academic journals and policy-based reports; we consult experts in the field, and we also spend as much time as we can with children and parents observing and talking to them while they use touch screen devices. Read More
J Milligan, the creative director of the Content Innovation Lab at Sesame Workshop, spoke at this year’s PSFK Conference in London. In his presentation J explains how Sesame Street Kinect TV, the Workshop’s newest interactive educational platform, is just the latest step in a decades long exploration of how technology can enhance early education.
Ed. Note: Susan Tofte is Sesame Workshop’s archivist.
How would you update a classic? Take a treasured story from one era and spruce it up for a new century’s readers?
Sesame Workshop has produced over 1200 books in a variety of formats since the early 1970s. Part of the philosophy of our publishing group is the willingness to tell stories in whatever formats will attract and reach preschoolers. Animated book apps and e-books are the most recent formats in which Sesame Street characters have come to life. For the Workshop, an eagerness to create books in emerging digital formats is tempered by the need to balance innovation with our mission of education. It is a delicate balancing act, but one that the Workshop’s publishing group has pulled off time and time again. Read More
Since the 1980s Sesame Workshop has been working to provide children ways to not just watch but genuinely interact with our educational content. Over the years VHS and CD-ROM games offered limited interactivity, but nothing approaches what the Workshop and Microsoft have partnered to create.
Starting today “Kinect Sesame Street TV,” a groundbreaking 2-way television, Xbox-based experience that has plenty of educational potential, is now available for purchase. Read More
A few years ago, Wandy Hoh was at home, playing with her three young daughters, when she noticed something.
“It was very obvious that the things they were most interested in were various gadgets and computers,” she said. But she felt that there weren’t enough children’s books available digitally. Instead of waiting for them to come along, Hoh took the initiative and in 2010 founded MeeGenius, of which she now serves as CEO.
Two years later, MeeGenius and Sesame Workshop are happy to announce that we’ve formed a partnership that will bring six Sesame Street e-book titles to web, iOS and Android platforms. Beginning today with Celebrate School: First Day, the new titles will debut every Wednesday throughout the month of September.