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April 08, 2013

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What Ever Happened to Don Music?

By Joe Hennes


Joe Hennes works at Sesame Workshop and is the co-proprietor of Tough Pigs.

Over the course of Sesame Street’s 43-year history, characters come and go.  Not everyone can be a Grover or Cookie Monster, lasting decades while still staying fresh and entertaining.  For every Big Bird, there’s a Roosevelt Franklin.  For every Bert and Ernie, there’s a Biff and Sully.  Despite the fact that these characters aren’t around anymore, we still hold a lot of love for them and the joy they gave us over the years.

One of our favorite examples is the great Don Music, the absent-minded composer who fought through his frustration to pen such classics as “Mary Had a Bicycle” and “Drive, Drive, Drive your Car”.  He showed us that creating art isn’t easy, and the final result isn’t always what you expected it to be. Read More

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April 03, 2013

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Jane Henson, 1934-2013

By Sesame Workshop



It is with great sadness that we relay the news of the passing of Jane Henson, wife of Jim Henson and a beloved member of the Sesame Street community. Born Jane Ann Nebel, she married Jim Henson in 1959 and gave birth to five children: Lisa, Cheryl, Brian, John and Heather. In addition to being a loving wife and mother, Mrs. Henson was an artistic collaborator of her late husband’s, performing Muppets alongside him on both Sesame Street and earlier projects. The entire Sesame Street community mourns her passing. She will be missed.

To learn more about Jane Henson’s life and achievements, visit The Jim Henson Legacy.

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Sesame Street Swings by the White House for the Annual Easter Egg Roll

By Graydon Gordian


The beloved Sesame Street Muppets have a long and storied history of visiting the White House. But that doesn’t mean we’re any less excited when we get invited back! This past weekend Gordon, Abby Cadabby, Rosita, and Elmo stopped by home of the first family to take part in the White House’s annual Easter Egg Roll.

The theme this year was “Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You!” The day was focused on ways families could eat healthy and stay physically active, a cause to which both the first lady Michelle Obama and Sesame Workshop are dedicated.

To learn more about the White House’s Easter Egg Roll, click here. To learn more about Sesame Workshop’s commitment to encourage healthy living habits in our children, click here.

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A Behind the Scenes look at Sesame Street in Afghanistan

By Graydon Gordian


Since November 2011, Baghch-E-Simsim, the Afghan version of Sesame Street, has brought laughter and important lessons about literacy, numeracy and cultural awareness to the children of Afghanistan. We’re excited to share with you this behind-the-scenes look at how one of our newest international co-productions gets made. To learn more about how Baghch-E-Simsim gets made, click here. To learn more about our work in Afghanistan, click here.

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March 28, 2013

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Sesame Workshop Launches Road Safety Campaign in Australia

By Graydon Gordian


Sesame Workshop is best known for our commitment to the mental and emotional development of children around the world. But we’re also committed to the physical safety of children. That’s why, as part of the U.N.’s Decade of Action for Road Safety, we’ve launched a new major road safety campaign in Australia.

Between 2006 and 2008, there were 6 deaths and 430 seriously injured pedestrians aged 0-14 in the province of Victoria alone. Driveway run-overs in the province resulted in the death of 14 children under the age of six and 73 serious injuries between January 2000 and September 2012.

Our campaign, spearheaded by Sesame Street’s Elmo and Grover, hopes to educate children, parents and teacher on simple road safety practices so in the future children’s lives can be saved. The campaign, created in partnership with Australian child safety advocates Kidsafe, the TAC, RACV and Holden, includes a storybook entitled Elmo Stays Safe: How Furry Little Monsters – and Children – Play Safely. The stories, games and activities in the book help encourage important safety tips like holding a parents hand while crossing the street, treating driveways like roads instead of safe play spaces and using correct restraints when traveling in a car. Additionally, a Community Service Announcement featuring Elmo and Grover is being broadcast on television and social media platforms and urges children and families to play in safe places away from driveways and roads.

To learn more about our efforts to encourage road safety, click here.

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March 25, 2013

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Sesame Street Helps Children Cope with Divorce

By David Cohen


David Cohen is the director of domestic research for Sesame Workshop.

When my friend tried to explain her divorce to her 8-year-old niece, her niece reflected “It’s going to take me awhile to process this.” Her niece’s reaction might be considered precocious, but it also shows the deep emotions children grapple with when faced with such a life altering effect.

Young children need ongoing and sensitive help from trusted adults who approach this event in age appropriate ways. In fact, young children are at risk of having more adjustment problems than older children, since they are still in the early process of developing the coping skills necessary to deal with all the changes associated with divorce. They also often blame themselves for the divorce or feel that it is their responsibility to bring their parents back together. Read More

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March 19, 2013

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Sesame Workshop Partners with IICF to Support Literacy

By Graydon Gordian


Literacy. It’s been at the heart of Sesame Workshop’s mission since Sesame Street began airing in 1969. We’re continually spreading our message of laughter and learning to new countries and utilizing emerging technological platforms to educate American preschool children. All the while, literacy remains a central element of Sesame Worskhop’s curriculum, no matter where or how a child is seeing our educational material.

That’s why we’re excited to partner with the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation whose National Early Childhood Education Initiative focuses on literacy for young children, particularly those in underserved communities around the U.S. The partnership will develop a program that provides children, parents, caregivers, and facilitators with tools to support young children’s development of essential literacy skills around rich conversations, reading, and writing. This program will provide rich and engaging opportunities for IICF Volunteers. Read More

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March 06, 2013

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Reaching Out to the Families Who Need Sesame Most: A History

By Susan Tofte


Fire Safety, disaster recover, serious illness, healthy eating habits, and divorce. All of these topics have been covered as part of Sesame Street’s long and diverse history of outreach initiatives. When Sesame Street first aired in 1969, there were significant obstacles to Sesame Street reaching children in poor communities – the very children the show most wanted to reach. Meeting this challenge became the Workshop’s first outreach program. Read More

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February 25, 2013

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The History of Academy Award Winners on Sesame Street

By Joe Hennes


Over 43 seasons, Sesame Street has featured hundreds and hundreds of famous actors.  Due to the law of averages, a certain percent of those actors will have gone on to receive a coveted Academy Award statuette.  And it seems that those averages are correct, because a lot of Sesame’s famous friends have an Oscar on their mantle.

Just last night, at the 85th annual Academy Awards, Anne Hathaway won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance of Fantine in Les Miserables. Hathaway stopped by Sesame Street a few years ago to sing “I Want a Snuffy for Christmas” with her pal Big Bird. Now you can add her to the long list of Oscar winners who count Big Bird and the rest of the Sesame Streetgang among their friends. Read More

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February 22, 2013

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2005 Doesn’t Seem Like That Long Ago…

By Jason Milligan


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.

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