Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sunny day, sweeping the clouds away,

On my way to where the air is sweet!

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?

 

After 45 years, we are still asking that same question.  This week on September 15, 2014, Sesame Street celebrated the beginning of its 45th season.  What a long journey it has been!

With a grant and a dream, Sesame Street started with the hope of harnessing the power and enticement of the television to offer something good, something educational to children.  And it still does today!  Sesame Street is the most researched children’s television show and for good reason – it’s powerful, it’s purposeful, and it’s relevant.

http://www.sesameworkshop.org/what-we-do/our-research-model/

Sesame Street is powerful.

One of the most exciting things about the Sesame Street model is that we know it works!  Over 1,000 studies of Sesame Street from around the globe show that children who watch do significantly better than those who don’t watch on a wide range of developmental skills.  And that this impact is long lasting.  Adolescents who watched Sesame Street as youngsters read more, have a higher love of learning, and have a higher GPA than those who didn’t watch in early childhood.  AND these results hold true after taking into account differences in children’s family background such as mother’s education.  Now that’s the power of Sesame Street, making a long term impact on children of all backgrounds.

Sesame Street is purposeful.

The mission of Sesame Workshop is to help bring children to their highest potential.  This is based on 20 core school readiness skills that has been the guiding principle for Sesame Street since the beginning.  These include:

1)  Knowledge of core academic content areas like literacy and math

2)  Behaviors across different areas for social, emotional, and health well-being

3)  Attitudes to encourage and develop lifelong learning

These elements are critical for successful child development and serve as the cornerstone of Sesame Street programming, in terms of local (U.S.) development, international development, and outreach materials.  With this foundation, Sesame Street can help children reach new heights with determination.

Sesame Street is relevant.

Children meet all kinds of challenges in all kinds of ways.  Some face hunger, others live through natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes.  No matter where the road takes us, Sesame Street works diligently to address the needs of children in numerous locations, in difficult situations, and in different cultures throughout the world.

For example, recognizing the needs of U.S. families working through military deployment, changes, and grieving, Sesame Workshop developed tools and materials called Talk, Listen, Connect to help families cope.

As such, Sesame Street consciously adjusts to the needs that are most relevant of children and their families.  It stays up to date with developmental trends as well as changes in society and circumstances, both near and far.

For example, Takalani Sesame takes on the epidemic of HIV/AIDS in South Africa with Kami, a 5-year-old yellow, furry muppet who also happens to be HIV positive.

Meet Kami and her friends on Takalani Sesame!

Meet Kami and her friends on Takalani Sesame!

The Long and Winding Road of Sesame Street

Is this how to get to Sesame Street?

Is this how to get to Sesame Street?

From a dream to a reality, Sesame Street has paved its way into the hearts and minds of children, parents, educators, and care-givers all over the world.  It has faced many critics and controversy over the years, and the road has not always been smooth.  But overwhelmingly, we can see the promise, success, and care that Sesame Street has shared with us throughout the years and over many, many miles.  I look forward to what the next 45 years will bring!  And maybe, just maybe, we’ll finally learn the way to Sesame Street – check out the video and tweets below.

 

 

 

 

Preschoolers and Active Video Games: Still learning

Providing educational opportunities for preschoolers is essential.  We are encouraged to read aloud to our preschoolers and share the love of reading with them every day.  We are urged to help our children be physically active at least an hour a day, and to limit our children’s media use to no more than 2 hours per day.  But what if we were able to use the media to get kids physically active and engage in literacy development?  LeapTV holds the potential to do this.

Coming to market soon, LeapTV is a game console targeted to children ages 3-8 years which combines attributes of X-Box Kinect within the educational framework of traditional LeapFrog games.

But LeapTV has big competition not only as an educational media platform, but also in the realm of entertainment media as well.

On the educational media platform side, we have a variety of preschool devices and gaming content.  Fisher-Price also has a series of technology devices aimed at getting kids active with an educational focus.  Remember these?

And what about preschool games for the X-Box Kinect?  Sesame Workshop has an X-Box game for parents and children:

In addition, journalist Stuart Dredge suggests that the entertainment media realm presents another challenge to the success of LeapTV.  Competing with Minecraft, Skylanders, and tablets, LeapTV faces a tough market.  Ultimately, Dredge concludes:

“LeapTV’s success will depend on how well it’s marketed to parents; the quality of its catalogue (including how many more big brands it can sign up); and whether there really is a demand from parents for a new children’s device under their TVs.”  http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/04/leaptv-kids-console-leapfrog-minecraft-skylanders

For me, this raises the question of how do you define success.  In the marketplace, success is defined by the return on investment and the amount of sales of these products.  For parents, success may be measured by the amount of playtime the product gets in the home compared with other products.  For me, success is defined by the outcomes the play brings for the child.  Does the child become more active?  Do they learn from the game?  What do they learn from the game?  Does the activity interfere with the learning or support it?  I’m curious to see how this plays out for our preschoolers.  We know that some active games do have a positive impact on children’s activity (particularly their energy expenditure and heart rate), but most of these studies were conducted with older children, and no educational games (or educational outcomes) were tested.  We need more research on the younger crowd to help parents make informed decisions.  Let’s continue to work in this direction to explore active gaming for our little users, preschoolers.