Zhima Jie

Children’s Education Initiatives in China | Zhima Jie

Opening the world of China’s youngest learners.

Sesame Street’s friendship with China began with a celebratory visit from Big Bird in 1983.

In the decades since, our Muppets have continued to enrich the lives of children throughout the country in countless ways, from leading outreach efforts in places affected by natural disaster to hosting a dazzling education showcase at Shanghai’s 2010 World Expo.

Sesame Street’s role –– or Zhima Jie in Mandarin –– keeps evolving with the needs of Chinese children. As the country surges on the global stage, China is considering how its educational approach can continue to keep pace. While formal Chinese education excels at test-based learning, Chinese educators and parents are eager to introduce critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to children early on.

Zhima Jie - China

Enter Big Bird Looks at the World, a new children’s education milestone in the Chinese media landscape. Our locally developed, Mandarin-language version of Sesame Street debuted in December 2010. Its playful premise: Fun, everyday encounters with science and nature give children the hands-on problem-solving skills to engage with their complex world.

Leading children in this exploration are Big Bird, Elmo, and Lily, a 4-year-old tiger who loves martial arts and perseveres in the face of tough problems. In more than 50 episodes to date, the three best friends confront fascinating questions (Where does the sun go at night? How do fish breathe under water?) that propel them into a big world looking for answers.

Along with these lovable Muppets and live-action footage, children engage in hands-on, ears-on, eyes-on activities that deepen their understanding and make the discoveries stick. This kind of experiential education helps
children see themselves as young scientists and independent explorers, with furry, feathery role models showing the way.

A runaway hit in its first-season launch in Shanghai, Big Bird Looks at the World outperformed all key children’s programs, with 400,000 preschoolers and nearly 1 million moms with young children watching in the first two months.1 And viewership continues to grow, drawing educators, grandparents, and other caregivers into the audience. The show has not gone unnoticed in the United States either, winning a 2011 Hugo award for its “’innovative and outstanding” contribution to the world of television.

Big Bird Looks at the World is supported by Shanghai Toonmax Media, the global health company MSD, and other partners key to sustaining and expanding the program. With their help, Big Bird and his friends have plans for a nationwide broadcast, an expanded educational outreach program, and the chance to inspire 200 million school-age children in China with the most
powerful force known to science: curiosity.

Partners

Shanghai Toonmax Media Co. Ltd., MSD (Merck), China Youth Development Foundation, Qualcomm Wireless Reach

1 Eurodata TV Worldwide/CSM Media Research. Jan.-Feb. 2011.
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