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Press Release

American Journal of Play Releases Sesame Street Issue

Published January 8, 2020

Wednesday, January 8, 2020
For Immediate Release

Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365, srhinewald@museumofplay.org

Noelle McElrath-Hart, 585-410-6325, nmcelrath@museumofplay.org

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK—Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street? In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the iconic television show, the most-recent issue of The Strong’s American Journal of Play features a series of articles and interviews that explore playful learning and Sesame Street’s influence on education. In collaboration with Sesame Workshop, the Journal’s editorial team assembled a series of articles that explore playful learning, make-believe play, and more. The issue begins with a wide-ranging interview with Senior Vice President of Curriculum and Content Rosemarie Truglio that explores her interest in child development, the evolution of Sesame Street, and its incorporation of play-based learning.

Sesame Street launched on public television in 1969 with the goal of using television to prepare children, particularly disadvantaged ones, for school. Truglio joined the team in 1997 after serving as an assistant professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she wrote numerous articles on child and developmental psychology. She determines curriculum for the show, which focuses on a different topic each episode. Says Truglio,What makes Sesame Street unique is we are research-driven and always investigating how the show can meet the current educational needs of children, to not only prepare them for school but for the world in which they live. Also, we address these needs through age-appropriate content that is appealing, engaging, and educationally impactful.”

The team determines a critical need to focus on each season and then review current research in the area, bring in academic experts and advisors, and conduct formative and impact research. This approach, unique to Sesame Street but modeled by other educational series, allows for the series to continue to evolve and to be relevant. “Nostalgia doesn’t work for kids,” says Truglio. “The current season is for today’s children.

That’s one of the reasons, Truglio believes, that Sesame Street has been so enduring. As the show continues to evolve, it’s also taken a new approach to play-based education and has been more conscious to include elements of play throughout the episodes. Although Sesame Street’s approach to education has always been infused with play, beginning with season 49, the show put an explicit focus on play curriculum and planning around play. “Play is an effective learning approach because when children play, they are motivated and actively engaged because it’s meaningful to them. Play is joyful, iterative (learning the importance of taking safe risks and learning through mistakes and not giving up in the face of failure) and socially interactive (cooperation, collaboration, compromise, perspective taking, empathy).”

Truglio says that Sesame Street stands apart from other shows because it focuses on all aspects of child development, and because of its loose show format, it can adapt and tackle current issues affecting the lives of the children watching. When asked about the future of the series, she said, “That’s just what’s so exciting: Who knows?”

The special issue of the American Journal of Play also includes articles about play-based pilot programs in India, Mexico, and South Africa; how Sesame Workshop television shows help children develop make-believe play; the impact of digital games on the lives of children through the lens of Sesame Street; and how Sesame Street promotes gender equity and strives to reduce gender stereotyping in children’s play. The full issue is available to read at journalofplay.org.

About The Strong

The Strong is the only collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to the history and exploration of play. It is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play and houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play. 

About Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street and so much more. Our mission is to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder—and we’re at work in more than 150 countries, using the power of media and our beloved Muppets to meet children’s development needs with critical early education, social impact programs, and a large dose of fun!