Sesame Street has produced nearly 5,000 episodes, won 193 Emmy awards, and is now broadcast in 150 different countries. But five milestones in its first 50 years tell a lot about its success.
Since the first television show on November 10, 1969, millions of children have grown up hearing the classic theme of the song "Can you tell me how to get it, how to get to Sesame Street?"  Over that time no doubt changed early childhood education around the world.
It all started at Harvard …
In the late 1960s Sesame Street co -founders Lloyd Morrisett and Joan Ganz Cooney approached Harvard University's Graduate School of Education with a novel approach to teaching to American children.
A team led by a developmental psychologist worked with the Sesame founders to study childhood psychology and used a relatively new television medium to create entertaining lessons for children. .
They tapped Muppets puppeteer Jim Henson to create characters like Big Bird and the set was made to look like an urban street rather than a mysterious world. And the four members of the human cast are multi-racial – a landmark decision for the age.
Harvard Education Professor Joe Blatt, who is a consultant on the show, spoke of the concept of using TV – which was thought to bring only idleness. and bad habits in children – was a "brilliant and kind of outrageous and exciting move" for 1969.
Prof Blatt said the program used "strong media techniques such as [advert] jingles, like repetition, to do things that will help kids learn instead of making the kids want Frosted Flakes ".
The real-life death of Mr. Hooper
When actor Will Lee, one of the original four members of the human cast, died of a heart attack in 1983, the The executive made the bold choice to explain the concept of death to children.
Lee plays the salesman, Mr Hooper.
"Big Bird, when people die they do not come back," the clearly mourning cast explained to the puppet, assuring him – and his audience – that after death people retain their memory and others continue their work. 19659005] The script is being tested on children before it can be delivered, Prof Blatt told the BBC, to make sure the children understand the message. Earlier trials led the show to throw away other lessons, such as a divorce section, if they found out the kids couldn't handle it.
The decision to document Mr Hooper's death on the show was "one of the first times they brought darkness" said TV Editor Polly Conway from the Common Sense Media group, which reviews children's programs.
"They understand that children can handle complex topics if information is delivered in an age-appropriate manner," he said. understand, in a way that is fully supported by child research. "
Since the lesson on death, the executives have not re-aired segments featuring Mr. Hooper." They said he would not return, "Prof Blatt said." And they have been standing there. "
An HIV-positive muppet
To the surprise of the show's creators, who thought it was purely for American audiences, the show was quickly adapted for international audiences. children in conflict zones or refugee camps can watch a version of Sesame Street.
Each co-production attempts to help children understand issues affecting their part of In South Africa's Takalani Sesame character We are a HIV-positive puppy whose mother died in Aids In Afghanistan Zari and her sister Zeerak model gender equality and respect for women.
Mexico, Brazil and Germany were the first to air versions of Sesame Street in the early 1970s.
Later, executives at the Sesame Workshop developed a plan to partner with executives of TV in countries around the world to develop programming specifically for local youth.
TV producers "brought the Sesame model, this mix of curriculum and research, to one country, and developed a new series with real-world goals related to the local country," explains by Prof Blatt.
Sesame Street worldwide
- Mexico's Plaza Sésamo became the first international co-production in 1972 with the Villa Sésamo. by Holland & # 39; s Sesamstraatin 1976.
- In Egypt Knowing Simsim, the female character Khoka seeks to empower girls who hope for good things
- When 1998 a joint Israeli-Palestinian co-production was launched showing tw o separate communities interacting with each other
- In Bangladesh Sisimpur characters gathered around a banyan trees, and tea shops and sweets – traditional gathering places for the region
- Sesame co-productions work with displaced Rohingya and Arab children living in refugee camps
In the 2006 documentary The World According to Sesame Street, co-it founder Joan Ganz Cooney dedicated their work to the missionaries, but instead of religion, the team "spreads tolerance and love and respect for one another." 19659005] Fifty years after its original creation, more than 30 global teams have customized local versions of Sesame Street content to more than 150 million children in 150 countries.
A homeless character
Beginning in 2015, an online library called Sesame Street in Communities has been developed in curricula that are tested on children around the world to help US neighborhoods address the everyday, day to day American struggles such as school shooting, addiction and rapid technological change.
In 2018, a seven-year-old rose muppet named Lily became the first Sesame resident to experience homelessness.
The latest added muppet is Karli, a nephew whose mother struggles with drug addiction. According to Sesame, Karli's role is urgent with at least 5.7 million US children under the age of 11 having a parent addicted to household substance.
Over the years, other muppets have taught children about autism, divorce and smart phones.
Elmo testifies to Congress
Sesame characters, and the puppets and executives behind it focus on activism, with Sesame Street residents playing policy-making roles throughout world. , Sesame has earned praise for incorporating segments of Health Practices designed to teach children about diet and exercise.
Even the Cookie Monster declared "sometimes food" cookies, and now teaches children about a balanced diet. Images
In 2009, former First Lady Michelle Obama visited Sesame studios to film a segment on healthy eating.
The first women to return to Barbara Bush in the early 1990s also recorded clips with Sesame characters, both in the US and in co-productions in Egypt and India.
In 2002, Elmo also walked the public policy arena. when he became the first non-human or puppet to testify in Congress, according to the Washington Post.
He was invited to discuss music education by ex-Congressman Duke Cunningham, who later resigned after pleading guilty to receiving bribes.