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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 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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February 07, 2013

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Sesame Street’s Science Books Come to Life in the Classroom

By Graydon Gordian


Teaching children about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as the STEM subjects, is an imperative we here at Sesame Street take seriously.  STEM is not just a major part of the television show’s curriculum; Sesame Workshop makes print books, e-books, and mobile apps aimed at teaching young children about STEM.

Teaching STEM is a passion of ours, which is why we approached Ridgefield Academy in Connecticut to see if any of their teachers wanted to use our book Simple Science Experiments with Elmo and Friends, published by Dover Publications, in the classroom. That’s when we were introduced to Jerry Nash, a science teacher a Ridgefield who saw a way to take this teaching opportunity a step further.

He had his eighth grade students at Ridgefield Academy film the first graders who conducted the experiments. Then he had a group of third and fifth graders do a voice-over for an instructional science video he made. We were blown away by the time and effort Mr. Nash put into bringing Simple Science Experiments with Elmo and Friends to life. We wanted to feature a few clips from the video (see above) in the hopes that teachers and parents might be inspired to think about new ways they can make science fun and relevant for young children.

If you would like to learn more about Ridgefield Academy and the great educational work they do, click here. If you want to get a copy of Simple Science Experiments with Elmo and Friends, click here. And Mr. Nash wanted to let you know if you have any questions about his approach to teaching science, you can reach him here.

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January 31, 2013

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‘Singing Through Tears’: Alan Muraoka Talks About the Broadway with Love Benefit for Sandy Hook

By Alan Muraoka


Alan Muraoka plays “Alan” on Sesame Street.

When I was approached to participate in From Broadway with Love – A Benefit Concert for Sandy Hook, I knew that Sesame Street had to be a part of it. I wanted to rally as many of the cast as possible. Emails and phone calls were sent out, and before you knew it I had group of talented volunteers: Alison Bartlett (Gina), Sonia Manzano (Maria), Bob McGrath (Bob), Roscoe Orman (Gordon), from the human cast, and Muppeteers  Carmen Osbahr, Pam Arciero, and Tyler Bunch, performing Rosita, Grungetta, and Herry Monster, respectively. We decided that the song “Just One Person” would be the perfect fit for the benefit, because it is a song about hope, community and love. It seemed to be the right message: Read More

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January 30, 2013

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Using Sesame Street to Study Brain Development

By Jessica F. Cantlon


Jessica F. Cantlon is Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester.

I am never quite sure what my daughter is thinking about as we interact.  I’ll watch my child’s reactions as I read her a book and I wonder whether she is thinking about the words that I am saying, the printed words on the page, the pictures I’m gesturing toward, or something else entirely.  And, when I see her completely mesmerized by something we’re watching on television,  I often wonder what aspects of the program she’s absorbing. One way to get ‘inside’ the minds of young children, especially children too young to articulate their thoughts in words, are studies that measure children’s neural activity while they engage in everyday activities like listening to stories or watching educational television. Such studies can not only help us understand which pieces of information children are processing in everyday situations, but how their brain is filtering, reacting to and registering the content to which they are exposed. Read More

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Rubber Duckie: the Story Behind Sesame’s Iconic Bath Time Tune

By Susan Tofte


Ed. Note: Susan Tofte is Sesame Workshop’s Archivist.

Beginning with the iconic opening lines to “The Sesame Street Theme” that opened the first episode, music has always played a critical role in setting the educational and creative standards of Sesame Street. Early songs such as “I Love Trash,” “People In Your Neighborhood,” “Green,” “One of These Things,” and “Rubber Duckie” (just to name a few) have a memorable and timeless quality to them. Many have become classics in their own right.

Take the song “Rubber Duckie,” Ernie’s classic ode to bath time toys.  Written by Jeff Moss, the song debuted on February 25, 1970 during Sesame Street’s first season. In the skit, Ernie, performed by Jim Henson, soaks in a bath and sings the song to his very favorite little pal. When the Workshop began releasing musical content from the show on records in the summer of 1970, “Rubber Duckie” was included on the very first album. The song went on to sell more than 1 million copies as a single and reached number 11 on the Billboard chart in 1971. It was nominated for The Best Recording for Children Grammy in 1970, losing out to The Sesame Street Book and Record, which itself contained the song. Since then, the song has been included on 21 different albums released by the Workshop. Read More

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New National Children’s Museum Includes Sesame-themed Section

By Graydon Gordian


Photo Credit: Adam Kissick

On Friday, December 14, the National Children’s Museum at National Harbor in Maryland opened its doors for the first time, and Sesame Workshop was happy to be a part of it. The 3-and-under section of the museum is Sesame Street­-themed, and includes hands-on activities and interactions with Sesame Street’s characters, such as Big Bird, who greets the incoming children. The museum is the first congressionally designated museum focused exclusively on children.

The Museum’s exhibits, programs and outreach activities focus on six core content areas: the arts; civic engagement; the environment; global citizenship; health and well-being; and play. The National Children’s Museum’s mission is to inspire children to care about and improve the world. In addition to the Sesame-themed 3-and-under section, the Our World section, which centers on the museum’s encouragement of global citizenship, includes an interactive table about all of Sesame Workshop’s international productions.

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December 07, 2012

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The Long Journey of a Letter to Big Bird

By Marissa Dombkowski



I never believed that things happen for a reason. Rather, I thought this was just something said to help a person cope when things don’t go their way. But earlier this week, when I found myself on the set of Sesame Street standing next to my childhood idol, I instantly became a believer.

As a young girl I had always been a fan of Sesame Street, but in 2003 when I was 12 years old, I realized that just being a fan was not enough anymore. I happened to see an A & E documentary on the beloved children’s television show that gave a behind the scenes look at the production, the people and the puppeteers involved.  It was during this documentary that I learned about Caroll Spinney; the wonderfully talented performer bringing the characters of Big Bird and Oscar to life. Suddenly, two things became apparent: I needed to write a letter to Caroll telling him how big of a fan I was and I needed to find out exactly how to get to Sesame Street. Read More

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November 28, 2012

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Kinect TV and Sesame Workshop’s Commitment to Innovation

By Graydon Gordian


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.

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Sesame Street Takes Part in the 86th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

By Graydon Gordian


On Thursday the 86th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade will work its way through the streets of Manhattan. Millions of people will line the parade route. Millions more will be watching at home. And for the 38th year in a row, they’ll see Big Bird, Cookie Monster and countless other beloved Muppets making their way down the avenues on Sesame Street’s parade float. Read More

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