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February 13, 2013

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‘The Story of J’: Sesame Street’s First Animation

By Susan Tofte


Susan Tofte is Sesame Workshop’s Archivist.

It is hard to imagine Sesame Street without the delightful animations that teach things like letters, numbers, emotions and problem solving. Animations have been a part of the show since the pilot episodes. But back in 1969, the idea of using a series of short animations to act like “commercials” for letters and numbers was a true innovation.

When Joan Ganz Cooney created her proposal for an educational television show, she envisioned borrowing the techniques used in making TV commercials to help teach counting and literacy. Joan and the producers knew that kids were attracted to commercials on TV. What they didn’t know was whether they could successfully create short commercial-like segments for the show that would actually teach to the curriculum. Read More

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Elmo’s Alphabet Challenge: The Story Behind the Animation

By Graydon Gordian


On Tuesday, August 14, Sesame Street released “Elmo’s Alphabet Challenge,” our latest home video. In it, Elmo, Abby and Telly get sucked into an animated video game world and have to defeat A.B.C.-more at a number of alphabet-based challenges in order to escape.

The challenges are all spoofs of iconic video games: Pac-man, Guitar Hero and Super Mario Brothers, among others, inspired the levels Elmo and his friends must traverse. The animation was created by Magnetic Dreams, an animation company Sesame Street has been working with for almost a decade. Read More

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