America’s national parks are some of its greatest treasures. There is so much for young children to learn and explore when they visit them. Elmo, Murray and the rest of the Sesame Street gang have always loved spending time at national parks, and they think it’s about time more kids across the country joined in on the fun. That’s why Sesame Workshop, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation have teamed up to create Sesame Street Explores National Parks, a multimedia parks experience for children ages 3-5, their families and educators. The project aims to help children learn more about science and the environment whether they are in a national park, a local park or even their own backyard. Read More
By Susan Tofte
Susan Tofte is Sesame Worskhop’s Archivist.
“I don’t believe in children. I don’t believe in childhood. I don’t believe that there’s a demarcation. ‘Oh you mustn’t tell them that. You mustn’t tell them that.’ You tell them anything you want. Just tell them if it’s true. If it’s true you tell them.” – Maurice Sendak.
In June 1968, the staff of Children’s Television Workshop (CTW, now known as Sesame Workshop) gathered in Cambridge, Massachusetts with a group of educators, scholars, child psychiatrists, television producers, authors, illustrators, composers, and puppeteers to determine what Sesame Street should attempt to teach in the show’s first year. The seminars were designed to bring a diverse group of thinkers together to tackle a problem that no participant had tried to solve. The challenge: find a way for the creative intuition needed to create a television show to work along side a deliberate objective curriculum. The first seminar covered social, moral and affective development of children. Among the 20 participants was writer and artist Maurice Sendak. Instead of taking notes, Sendak doodled as the discussion of what four-year-olds understand conceptually drifted through his unconscious. He doodled about sibling rivalry, children challenging their parents’ authority and violence on TV. The sketches are classic Sendak – irreverent, subversive and witty.
After the seminars, Sendak’s involvement with Street continued. He was an early member of the National Board of Advisors for CTW and consulted with Workshop founder Joan Ganz Cooney and producers on early storyboards and outlines for the show. Some of the doodles from the seminars were used in the first promotional brochure for the Workshop. The cover image of the booklet features a drawing of a child with a television for a head holding a Children’s Television Workshop banner. Sendak also drew the first logo that appeared on early CTW stationary and press releases.
In addition to his work behind the scenes, Sendak contributed two animations that aired during Sesame Street’s second season. He collaborated with Jim Henson on two animated films – writing and designing stories full of mayhem and ruckus. “Seven Monsters,” a subversive story about a group of seven monsters wrecking havoc on a village, was turned into a storybook in 1977. “Bumble Ardy #9”, Sendak’s best known short, is a tale of nine pigs showing up to celebrate a boy’s 9th birthday, eating birthday cake and drinking wine. The animated short was the basis for a book that was published in 2011. It was the first book in 30 years that Sendak both wrote and illustrated and was the last book he published before his death.
It is unknown what circumstances led to Maurice Sendak’s invitation to participate in the early seminars for Sesame Street but there is no doubt that Sendak’s influence was felt during the early development of Sesame Street. Both Sendak and the creators of Sesame Street believed that children understand a great deal more than most adults believe; that when creating content for children, one must take children seriously as children.
On Sesame Street, we love celebrating milestones. From a child’s first birthday to their first day at school, these are special moments that we believe are worth celebrating. That’s just one of the many reasons Party City is excited to be one of Sesame Street’s newest sponsors. Read More
It’s a wonderful day, and not just cause the sun is shining on Sesame Street. It’s a wonderful day because this morning we learned a new friend was moving in to the neighborhood. Armando, or “Mando” as the gang on Sesame Street has nicknamed him, is join the cast on the upcoming 44th season.
Played by actor Ismael Cruz Córdova, Mando is part of Sesame’s increased focus on engaging with and educating children in the Hispanic community in the United States. The show is constantly evolving and has a long-standing history of modeling a diverse community. As producers were identifying the realities of the changing American population, it was important to represent that diversity in the new addition to the cast. “Armando,” a writer from Puerto Rico, will join Maria (played by Sonia Manzano), Luis (Emilio Delgado) and Muppets™ Rosita and Ovejita (Carmen Osbahr) as part of Sesame Street’s bilingual community.
To learn more about Mando and his new home on Sesame Street, check out the video above.
By Susan Tofte
There is a scene in the promo film for Sesame Street where ad-men type Muppets in business suits meet around a large conference table debating potential names for the show. Ridiculous titles are suggested like the Two and Two Ain’t Five Show and the Itty-Bitty, Farm-and-City, Witty-Ditty, Nitty-Gritty, Dog-and-Kitty, Pretty-Little-Kiddie Show. Rowlf the Dog fires the entire group of Muppets and Kermit the Frog eventually comes up with the name Sesame Street. “You know, like ‘Open Sesame.’ It kind of gives the idea of a street where neat stuff happens,” he suggests. Read More
By Susan Tofte
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” – Jackie Robinson
Of the hundreds of celebrities who have appeared on Sesame Street, Jackie Robinson is one of the most notable. Workshop co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney met with Robinson in 1969 when she was working to build awareness and outreach prior to the show’s November premiere. Reaching out to Robinson and his connections made sense. Read More
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
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.
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.
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