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December 09, 2013

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A Recipe for Cooking Up a Fun and Furry Children’s App

By Karen Halpenny


Karen Halpenny is a Senior Editor, Publishing & Senior Manager, Digital Publishing at Sesame Workshop.

David Kleeman, President of the American Center for Children and Media and PlayVangelist at PlayCollective, challenged content creators to make an “ingredients” list for their educational media. Challenge accepted!

App Name: Peekaboo Sesame Street

Goals:

  1. Design an app for the youngest segment of our audience to engage them with our characters in an age-appropriate interactive way.
  2. Introduce toddlers to the basics of how to use a tablet since we know they’re using these devices in increasing numbers.
  3. Integrate some fun into learning focused on science curriculum (prediction and cause & effect).

Approximate time required: 6 months

Yield: 1 app  Read More

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September 25, 2013

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The Story Behind Sesame Street’s Family Play App

By J Milligan


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

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June 13, 2013

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An Inside Look at In-School Testing

By Courtney Wong


Courtney Wong is a research specialist for Sesame Workshop’s Department of Education and Research.

Sesame Street content has been exploding on the digital market with new apps and website games for your preschoolers! With the ever-expanding digital landscape of design and technology possibilities, we must keep learning and adapting our work. Handheld touch devices and apps did not even exist when we were kids, so we need all the help we can get!  Read More

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April 10, 2013

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The ABCs and 123s of Preschool Apps

By Michelle Newman


Michelle Newman is a Senior Curriculum Specialist at Sesame Workshop.

Touch screen devices have dramatically changed the way young children interact with technology. Preschoolers no longer have to struggle with a mouse or a laptop touch pad – they can now use their fingers to tap, drag, and trace items directly on the screen. When we started to develop one of our first robust iPad apps in 2010, we were extremely optimistic about all of the affordances of this new technology. What surprised us was the number of new challenges we needed to overcome to create a quality developmentally appropriate learning experience for young children. Read More

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January 22, 2013

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‘An App Just for Me’: Denise Albert on Sesame’s New Divorce App

By Denise Albert


Ed. Note: Denise Albert is the Co-Founder of the lifestyle brand,  The MOMS. She and her partner, Melissa Gerstein are contributors to HLN’s upcoming parenting show, Raising America. Denise contributes to The Huffington Post Parents and Divorce.

As a mom addicted to my iPhone and to technology I often struggle with how much time to allow my kids to use their iTouches. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have given them the devices at their young ages of 4 ½ and 8. However, their dad receives new phones from his place of business so our kids are the beneficiaries of hand me downs. Who would say no to that! Read More

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December 17, 2012

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Sesame’s Best Practices Guide for Children’s App Development

By Mindy Brooks


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

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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.

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