National Parks

Welcome to Sesame Street’s press room for our newest project Sesame Street Explores National Parks. This project offers a multimedia parks experience for children aged 3-5 to promote science learning through experiences in national parks, local parks and backyards.

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press release

Sesame Street Explores National Parks

Elmo and Murray Learn about Nature at www.sesamestreet.org/parks

Travel with fun-loving Muppets Elmo and Murray from Sesame Street to two of America’s most popular national parks in a new online series, Sesame Street Explores National Parks. Six short videos and accompanying hands-on activities that introduce preschoolers to the natural world were unveiled today by Sesame Street, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation.

“These videos and activities will inspire children to hop, skip or jump to their nearest national park or green space,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We hope they have fun and get excited about spending time outside. At this age, every bug, mud puddle or fallen log is fascinating. We want to tap into that sense of wonder and curiosity and plant the seed for life long exploration.”

The videos offer a multimedia park experience for children ages 3-5 and their families and educators, using the power of media to promote science learning through experiences in national parks as well as in local parks and backyards.

“The goal of this project is to leverage the unique power of the Sesame Street Muppets to model scientific inquiry skills within the context of the national parks to enhance young children’s attitudes and knowledge about science and nature,” said Dr. Rosemarie Truglio, Senior Vice President of Education and Research at Sesame Workshop. “The materials, designed for parents, educators and caregivers, provide activities for them to engage in with their young children as they explore nature together.”

Park rangers from Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City encourage Elmo, Murray, and children across the country to utilize all of their senses to investigate and observe the outdoors. The videos teach young people about habitats, seasons, plants, and animals. They learn how to conduct an animal survey, look for nests, identify migration patterns, and simply listen to the sounds of nature.

“Engaging America’s youth in national parks across the country is of the utmost importance,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “Parks provide a perfect combination of natural classroom and playground, and it is never too early to encourage enjoyment and stewardship of these special places.”

Sesame Street Explores National Parks will be available on the websites and social media outlets of the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation and Sesame Street.

 

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.

 

About the National Park Foundation. You are the owner of 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites — all protected in America’s nearly 400 national parks.  Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks.  We work hand in hand with the National Park Service to connect you and all Americans to the parks, and to make sure that they are preserved for the generations who will follow.  Join us in supporting your national parks — this is your land. www.nationalparks.org

 

About Sesame Workshop. Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization that revolutionized children’s television programming with the landmark Sesame Street. The Workshop produces local Sesame Street programs, seen in over 150 countries, and other acclaimed shows including The Electric Company, to help bridge the literacy gap. Beyond television, the Workshop produces content for multiple media platforms on a wide range of issues, including literacy, health, and resilience. Initiatives meet specific needs to help young children and families develop critical skills, acquire healthy habits, and build emotional strength to prepare them for lifelong learning. Learn more at www.sesameworkshop.org.

Press Release

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project overview

The Project

Sesame Street Explores National Parks is a new project created through a unique partnership among

Sesame Workshop, the National Park Service, and the National Park Foundation.  The project offers a multimedia parks experience for children aged 3-5 and their families and educators, and aims to promote science learning through experiences in both national parks and local parks or backyards.

The Need

National and local park areas, whether visited in person or explored virtually, offer exciting opportunities for engaging young children in learning about science and nature. However, in general, many parks currently offer few educational materials designed specifically for preschool children and their families and educators. This project aims to leverage the unique power of the Sesame Street Muppets within the engaging context presented by the national parks to help shape children’s attitudes and knowledge about science and nature from an early age.  The project’s resources link the unforgettable experiences offered by national parks to everyday learning moments that are available through the smaller local parks and backyards that are most easily accessible to families and children.

Project Components

Key components of Sesame Street Explores National Parks can be found at www.sesamestreet.org/parks and include:

  • A series of six short videos featuring Sesame Street’s Elmo and Murray Monster, national park rangers, and footage of Grand Canyon National Park and Gateway National Recreation Area.  In each video, a park ranger highlights scientific inquiry skills through science and nature topics relevant to both the national parks and local park or backyard settings, and delivers educational messages and a call to action for parents and children.
  • Related activities for parents/caregivers and educators that will extend the learning experience of each of the videos by offering concrete, developmentally-appropriate ways for parents and educators (including park rangers) to help young children learn more about the science and nature topics introduced in the videos.  Activities will encourage children to explore the natural environment and carry out their own observations and investigations of science and nature in national and local parks.

Distribution and Research

All Sesame Street Explores National Parks resources will be distributed through the partner organizations’ websites (including the Sesame Street website) and social media channels, and will be made available to all National Parks for use in Visitors Centers, websites, and other outlets.  The materials will help to enhance young children’s educational experience when visiting parks, while also providing a virtual experience for children at home or in classrooms.  To evaluate the project, Sesame Workshop will conduct a use study with parents of preschool-aged children.

Partners

Sesame Street Explores National Parks is produced in partnership with the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation. Special thanks to Grand Canyon National Park and Gateway National Recreation Area.

Project Overview

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tip sheet

Nature words

Instructions: Want to talk like a park ranger? Use this vocabulary sheet to help your child learn and use new nature vocabulary.

Use these words to talk about and describe your explorations with nature in your national park, local park, or backyard!

Amphibian: An animal, such as a frog, toad, salamander, or newt, that:

  • goes through a big change called a metamorphosis
  • lives part of its life on land breathing through its skin and part of it in the water breathing through its gills
  • has thin moist skin, four legs, and a backbone

 

Arachnid: A small animal, such as a spider, that has eight legs.

Binoculars: A tool that helps you get a closer look at things that are far away.

Camouflage: To disguise or hide by blending into the background.

Compare: To figure out if things are the same or different.

Deciduous: A tree that loses its leaves once a year.

Garden: A place where plants, flowers, fruits, and vegetables are grown.

Habitat: A place where animals live and can find food, water, and a place to sleep.

Hibernate: When animals sleep for a very long time from winter until spring, when it’s warm and easy to find food again.

Insect: a small animal that has six legs, two antennae, and usually two pairs of wings such as flies, crickets, mosquitoes,
beetles, butterflies, and bees.

Investigate: To do things that will help you find the answer to your question.

Journal: A book used to keep track of observations through writings, drawings, or photographs.

Magnify: To make something look bigger.

Metamorphosis: When something goes through a really big change, like when a caterpillar changes into a butterfly.

Migration: When animals move because the seasons change.

Nature: Plants, animals, and other things outside that are not made by people.

Observe: To use your senses to find out more about something.

Pollinate: When bees spread pollen from one plant, flower, fruit, or vegetable to another to help make more flowers grow.

Season: A time of the year that is characterized by a certain change in weather. There are four seasons in a year: winter, spring, summer and fall. In winter it’s cold and snowy, in spring it’s warm and rainy, in summer it’s hot, and in fall it’s cool and windy. Depending on where you live the seasons might feel different.

Senses: What we use to experience everything around us and there are five of them: sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing.

Texture: The way something feels.

Tool: Something used to help do a specific task such as a magnifying glass, a shovel or a flashlight.

 

Companion Video Tips

Gateway: Nest Video Tip

Go on a nature hunt with your child and search for different kinds of nests. Nests can be made by many different types of birds, animals and bugs, and can be found in trees, shrubs, or even on the ground. Nests are homes, so we want to be respectful and not get too close. Use binoculars, or make pretend binoculars with your hands, to look closely at the nests from far away and talk about what they look like and what they are made of. Ask your child what he notices about the animal families that live in the nests. Encourage him to take pictures or draw what he finds in his nature journal

Watch and Talk: What kinds of nests did Elmo and Murray learn about at Gateway?
What would you build your nest out of?

Gateway: Seasons Video Tip

Go outside and explore springtime, or any season, with your child using all of your senses! In spring, feel the warm weather on your skin, smell fresh cut grass, listen for rain falling, and look for new leaves budding on trees. Also, many animals migrate during spring. Encourage your child to be quiet and listen for these animals and birds making sounds. Ask, “Where are the sounds coming from?”, “Who is making those sounds?” Encourage your child to keep track of what she sees, smells, touches and hears in her nature journal.

Watch and Talk: What did Elmo and Murray learn about the animals migrating to Gateway?
Using all of your sense, what do you observe about the season you are currently in?

Gateway: Habitat Video Tip

A habitat is a place where animals live and find food, water and a place to sleep just like you and your child do in your neighborhood habitat. Did you know that many birds, insects and other animals share your habitat, too? Explore your neighborhood with your child and look and listen for different animals, birds or bugs. Count how many you find and encourage your child to record it in her journal. The more different kinds of animals you find, the more diverse and healthy a habitat it is.

Watch and Talk: What did Elmo and Murray learn about the salt marsh at Gateway?
What animals and habitats did they discover in their local park?

Grand Canyon: Families Video Tip

Go on an animal family safari with your child! Use binoculars, or make pretend binoculars with your hands, to search your park, neighborhood, or backyard for animals and their families. First, you can go to the library or online to learn more about what animals live in your area. Then, look closely and carefully for animal tracks, nests and homes to help you find the animals that live around you. Talk with your child about how these animal families take care of each other and the similarities and differences to your own family. Encourage him to take pictures or draw what he finds in his nature journal.

Watch and Talk: What did Elmo and Murray learn about the California Condor family?
What kinds of animal families did they observe in their local park?

Grand Canyon: Seasons Video Tip

Explore the seasons together with your child and encourage her to observe her surroundings using all of her senses. Play a “Guess that Season Game” with her and ask her questions such as, “What does the temperature feel like outside?”, “What color are the leaves?”, “Are plants beginning to bloom?”, “Do you hear birds chirping?”, “What do you smell?” Keep track of what you see, smell, touch and hear in a nature journal. Include photographs, drawings and even fallen twigs, leaves and flowers.

Watch and Talk: What did Elmo and Murray learn about the seasons at the Grand Canyon?
What did you discover about the season you’re currently in?
What season comes next?

Grand Canyon: Habitat Video Tip

Some examples of Habitats are beaches, rainforests, jungles or the desert. You can explore local habitats with your child such as the park, a pond, your neighborhood, your backyard or even under a rock! Talk with your child about what makes these places a good habitat for the animals, birds and bugs that live there. Ask questions such as, “What do they eat? Where could they sleep? “Where can they find water?” Encourage her to take pictures or draw pictures of the habitats she discovers in her nature journal.

Watch and Talk:   What kinds of different animals and habitats did Elmo and Murray learn about at the Grand Canyon?
How do the habitats at the Grand Canyon compare to the habitat where you live?

Download Nature Words

Download Video Companion Tips

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artwork
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videos
  • Gateway Habitats

    A video of Elmo, Murray and Ranger Shalani learn about different habitats as part of our newest project Sesame Street Explores National Parks. This project offers a multimedia parks experience for children aged 3-5 to promote science learning through experiences in national parks, local parks and backyards.

    Watch on YouTube
    download
  • Grand Canyon Families

    A video of Elmo, Murray and Ranger Amala learn about California Condors as part of our newest project Sesame Street Explores National Parks. This project offers a multimedia parks experience for children aged 3-5 to promote science learning through experiences in national parks, local parks and backyards.

    Watch on YouTube
    download
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partners

National Park Foundation

The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, raises private funds that directly aid, support and enrich America’s more than 400 national parks and their programs. Chartered by Congress as the nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation plays a critical role in supporting conservation and preservation efforts, establishing national parks as powerful learning environments, and giving all audiences an equal and abundant opportunity to experience, enjoy and support America’s treasured places.

More About the National Park Foundation

National Park Service

The National Park Service (NPS) is a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The NPS manages the 401 parks of the National Park System. The NPS also helps administer dozens of affiliated sites, the National Register of Historic Places, National Heritage Areas, National Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Historic Landmarks, and National Trails.

More About the National Park Service

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park today encompasses approximately 1,218,375 acres of public land on the southern end of the Colorado Plateau. It is a globally significant natural resource containing scenic vistas known throughout the world. In recognition of its significant values, Grand Canyon National Park was designated as a world heritage site on October 26, 1979. A 277-mile stretch of the Colorado River runs through the park, and thousands of miles of tributary side-canyons are included within its boundaries.

More About Grand Canyon National Park

Gateway National Recreation Area

Gateway National Recreation Area offers urban residents natural, historic and recreational experiences at a national park within the New York City area.

More About Gateway National Recreation Area

Shalini Gopie

Shalini Gopie is a park ranger at Gateway National Recreation Area where she has worked for the division of interpretation and education for six years. She studied Biology at Long Island University and began as seasonal with the National Park Service. She loves working with the public, creating memorable experiences for visitors. Shalini grew up in Brooklyn, in the melting pot of New York City, amongst the various ethnic groups that lived close by. In fact her passion for food came from visiting local restaurants, which were a way to travel the world. Early on she developed a passion for traveling and she enjoys any opportunity to visit a different location. She loves chocolate, baking and making people happy with food.

Shalini Gopie Biography

Amala Posey

Amala Posey grew up in Tucson, Arizona and has spent most of her life living in the southwest. As an only child, she grew up camping and hiking with her parents, exploring the Sonoran Desert and spending endless hours in the outdoors. It isn’t a far stretch that her love of nature eventually led her to the Grand Canyon and a career as a park ranger.

Amala Posey Biography
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contact and connect

Pam Hacker
Sesame Workshop
212.875.6225
pam.hacker@sesame.org

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