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Teaching Science by Telling Stories

By Jessie Renee Hopkins


Jessie Renee Hopkins is a Senior Writer and Game Designer in Sesame Workshop’s Department of Content Production. Dave Glauber is a Writer and Interactive Designer in Sesame Workshop’s Content Innovation Lab.

When my colleague, Dave Glauber, and I were asked to co-lead a workshop on Narrative Design at this year’s Interaction Design and Children (IDC) conference, we had no idea it would culminate with a giant cat face. As it turned out, we couldn’t have been happier that it did.

The IDC conference’s mission is to bring together designers, researchers, and educators to explore ways of creating better interactive learning experiences for children. Our goal for the workshop was to guide conference participants through adding a story to exhibits at the New York Hall of Science. We wanted find out if narrative elements would influence visitors, kids especially, to spend more time with the exhibits. The hope was, if we could do a better job of drawing kids in, we could do a better job of helping kids learn.  Read More

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June 24, 2013

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Sesame Street Swings by the Library

By Ariel Birdoff


The Publishing Group's Karen Halpenny reads to children at the New York Public Library.

Ariel Birdoff has been a member of the Sesame Workshop Publishing Group for more than eight years.

As part of Sesame’s Count Me In volunteer program, the Workshop’s Publishing Group is spending two Friday mornings a month in the company of preschoolers, caregivers, and librarians at the nearby Riverside Branch of the New York Public Library, just up the block! As lovers of books and champions of children’s literacy, we wanted to find a way to spend some of our volunteer hours working with both books and children. We were very lucky to find children’s librarian Rachel Evans and her beautiful children’s room so close by. To be able to help out in our own neighborhood feels extra special!  Read More

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June 17, 2013

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Sesame Visits Families at Rikers Island

By Graydon Gordian


The 2.7 million children in the United States with an incarcerated parent are in a uniquely difficult situation. They feel a number of complex emotions: sadness, shame, guilty, anger. Yet they often don’t feel they are allowed to talk about their experience, partly because the adults in their life oftentimes don’t know how to talk about the experience either. That’s why Sesame Workshop launched Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration, a multimedia, bi-lingual (English/Spanish) outreach initiative with stories featuring Sesame Street’s beloved characters that help children feel reassured, loved and supported.  Read More

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June 12, 2013

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‘They Need to Know They are Loved': Centerforce’s Carol Burton on Sesame Workshop’s Incarceration Initiative

By Graydon Gordian


The number of children with an incarcerated parent has increased nearly 80% in the past 20 years. Nearly 2.7 million children have a parent in state or federal prison, yet few resources exist to support young children and families coping with this life-changing circumstance. Children need tools to express emotions, while their caregivers need help maintaining routines and establishing age-appropriate communication around incarceration. That’s why Sesame Workshop has created Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration, a new outreach initiative.

This bilingual, multimedia initiative includes material that can help young children with an incarcerated parent find support, comfort and reduced levels of anxiety and sadness, as well as provides parents and care-givers with strategies, tips, and age-appropriate language they can use to help communicate with their children about incarceration.

The Little Children, Big Challenges initiative, which includes efforts to address the loss of a parent, divorce, incarceration and other difficult situations young children face, grew out of Sesame Workshop’s Military Families initiative.

To learn more about why children with incarcerated parents are in need of support, Sesame Workshop sat down with Carol F. Burton, executive director of Centerforce, a non-profit dedicated to supporting individuals and families impacted by incarceration. Ms. Burton also served as an advisor to Sesame Workshop during the development of the Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration initiativeRead More

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June 05, 2013

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Cookbooks for Kids in the Age of the App

By Pamela Thomas


Pam Thomas is an editor in Sesame Workshop’s Book Publishing department and the author of several cookbooks.

Cooking with kids is not only an excellent way to find delectable  “quality time” with the family, it’s a perfect tactic for sneaking in teachable moments, all while  mixing up a batch of good-for-you muffins!  How about math: How many cookies make a dozen?  Or science: Why does butter melt when it’s put over heat? How does a cake rise when it’s put in an oven?  Literacy: What foods begin with the letter “C”?  And even a bit of etiquette: Let’s set a pretty table for supper! Or, let’s take a plate of cookies to the nice lady who lives next door!

And then, of course, there’s the whole issue of good health as it relates to food. Research has shown that Sesame Street’s furry, friendly, familiar characters can have a powerful influence over young children, guiding them to develop positive eating habits and to delight in exercise—strong ingredients for lifelong health. Sesame Street’s ongoing initiative, “Healthy Habits for Life,” proves that young children are more interested in healthy foods and good eating practices when these subjects are reinforced in fun, creative, colorful, and active ways.  That’s what Sesame Street cookbooks have strived to achieve. Read More

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Being Here for Each Other in Oklahoma

By Mindy Brooks


Mindy Brooks is Director of Education and Research for Sesame Workshop.

My first vivid memory of a tornado was the day my sister was born. I was 4 years old, it was nighttime, and I was alone with my grandmother who spent the majority of her adult years in Papua New Guinea. I vividly remember hearing the voice of Gary England (an Oklahoma meteorologist) giving advice about the storm and telling us to quickly take cover. To my preschool brain it was targeted solely for us and our house. I remember the panic my grandma expressed as she was new to tornados. I remember talking about how to take cover, securing the mattress over us in the bathtub, and holding on to her. And, even more vividly, I remember the feeling of fear that my parents weren’t there to protect me. Read More

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Bangladeshi Filmmaking Program Teaches Kids to Teach us

By Kara Koch


Kara Koch is the Production Coordinator in Sesame Workshop’s International Creative department. She works on co-productions in Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Israel, South Africa, and the Gulf.

Screening and dissecting videos. Writing treatments. Operating a camera, microphone, and light board. Taking written and oral exams.

You might think these are things only college students would be doing in an advanced film course, but if you are a 12-year-old kid in Bangladesh’s Rural Live Action Film Program, they are just the sort of skills you will learn to master in just a few months. Read More

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May 30, 2013

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Sesame Workshop’s 11th Annual Benefit Gala

By Sesame Workshop


George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth hosted Sesame Workshop’s 11th Annual Benefit Gala celebrating the organization’s commitment to early childhood education. The event honored Susie Buffett, chair of The Sherwood Foundation, and Qualcomm’s chairman and CEO, Dr. Paul Jacobs, accepted the corporate leadership award. Photo credit: Clint Spaulding.

George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth

Sesame Workshop founder, Joan Ganz Cooney, at the organization’s 11th Annual Benefit Gala celebrating its commitment to early childhood education. The event honored Susie Buffett, chair of The Sherwood Foundation, and Qualcomm’s chairman and CEO, Dr. Paul Jacobs, accepted the corporate leadership award. Photo credit: Clint Spaulding.

Sesame Street founder Joan Ganz Cooney

 

Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Qualcomm, and his daughter, Jessica, attended Sesame Workshop’s 11th Annual Benefit Gala celebrating the organization’s commitment to early childhood education. The event honored Susie Buffett, chair of The Sherwood Foundation, and Qualcomm. Photo credit: Clint Spaulding.

Dr. Paul E. Jacobs and his daughter Jessica Jacobs

At Sesame Workshop’s 11th Annual Benefit Gala on Wednesday, we were proud to honor both an individual and an organization that champion the importance of early education and work to ensure young children from all walks of life are prepared for school.

Susie Buffett, Chairman of the Sherwood Foundation, received the Global Leadership Award for her commitment to increasing public awareness of the need to invest in educational resources for preschool children at all economic levels. Qualcomm Incorporated received the Corporate Leadership Award for its commitment to leveraging the power of mobile technology to educate children around the globe in new, impactful ways. The award was accepted by Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, Qualcomm’s Chairman and CEO.

Susie Buffett, chair of The Sherwood Foundation, was honored Sesame Workshop’s 11th Annual Benefit Gala celebrating the organization’s commitment to early childhood education. Photo Credit: Clint Spaulding.

Susie Buffett and Oscar.

To learn more about Susie Buffett and the Sherwood Foundation, click here. To learn more about Qualcomm and all the work they do to support the innovative edge of Sesame Workshop’s mission of global education, click here.

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From the Street to the ‘Galli': A Story from Sesame Workshop India

By Sara Lederman


Sara Lederman works in the International Projects group on the Workshop’s initiatives in Israel and India. She began at Sesame 3 years ago as an intern while she was a student at Barnard College. Sara will spend next year conducting research in India on a Fulbright Scholarship.

The American Street overflows with giggling faces, neighbors congregating on city stoops, and friends playing jump rope. Sunny days and furry faces fill the Street, the symbolic artery through which so much history and learning flows.

The Indian Galli (alleyway) explodes with color and pulses with a rhythmic drumbeats. A caravan of diverse faces cheers as it zooms past smiling pink and blue storefronts and a technicolor lion kicking a soccer ball. The Galli is a familiar scene, a fantastical heaven tucked away in the dense city.

Both of these streets tell stories – stories of childhood, stories of community, and stories of culture. As an intern at Sesame Workshop and an anthropology student, I wanted to explore these stories in my senior thesis.

After working at Sesame Workshop in Global Education, Research & Outreach as an intern for a year and with the encouragement of a wise mentor, I decided to apply for funding to support a summer of original ethnographic research in India. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I traded in my ninth summer at camp in Wisconsin to explore the life of Muppets on the other side of the world.

When my rickshaw rolled up to the door of Sesame Workshop India in New Delhi, it hit me: I was experiencing, firsthand, what so many people back in the New York office described as “the longest street in the world.” Sesame Workshop India, the only wholly-owned subsidiary of Sesame Workshop in the world, is a lean machine comprised of a bold, fast, sharp team. Not only does this thirty-odd person office drive the production of Galli Galli Sim Sim (the Indian co-production of Sesame Street) radio and television shows that reach over 90% of television-owning families, but they also collaborate with national early childhood education experts to organize policy-oriented advocacy. They also just recently launched a franchise of after-schools and pre-schools called Sesame Schoolhouse, the first of their kind. And if that isn’t enough, this tiny team makes serious dents in school readiness and hygiene educational needs in India, a country where, if all the children broke off and made their own country, they would be the third largest in the world.

After a few days in the office and with the help of the supportive Sesame Workshop India team, I quickly identified a feasible research plan. In 2011 Sesame Workshop India was developing a Healthy Habits radio program intended to be distributed to a number of community radio stations. This particular series was designed in installments in a way that allowed flexibility for local adaptations. When I was in Delhi they were just beginning to roll out this initiative in a sizable migrant labor community on the periphery of Gurgaon, a major satellite city of Delhi. The community radio station, Gurgaon Ki Awaaz, took the material and tailored it to the needs of its audience, playing folk music from Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh –many of the migrant laborers’ home states – and addressing issues that were specific to the community’s needs. And, taking full advantage of radio as a flexible and communicative medium, the community radio station engaged callers in conversation surrounding education, water, employment, and safety.

As I conducted interviews with mothers, kids, teachers, and radio producers it became clear to me: everyone wants to consume high-quality media that speaks to them and, perhaps even more importantly, everyone wants to speak. The Sesame material served as an inspiration for the The Galli Galli Sim Sim community radio program, which provided a safe, educational and accessible space for some of the most marginalized families in the world.

That’s a Street of which I am proud to be a part.

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May 10, 2013

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There’s a New Neighbor on Sesame Street!

By Graydon Gordian


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.

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