Happy 40th Anniversary, Sesame Street!

“Sunny days, sweeping those clouds away…”

Households around the world have heard this iconic song come from the speakers of their television sets as little bodies sat glued to the screen, watching and learning from the likes of Big Bird, Ernie, and Super Grover.

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Those loved characters, along with the most famous street in the world, turn 40 years old this month. Originally developed over table conversation at a dinner party and began as a semi-experiment by Joan Ganz Cooney, Sesame Street aired live for the first time on November 10, 1969. The  founding concept behind Sesame Street was that the inevitable lure of television could be used for good in educating preschool children, especially those  in the inner-city.  Jim Henson,  who had steadily been making a name for himself in  the world of puppets,  was called in to the project and helped develop such loved characters as Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Guy Smiley. Forty years later, children are still learning fundamental skills such as counting and letter sounds from these iconic Muppets.

This month the Sesame Workshop will roll out the 40th season of Sesame Street. Not one to quietly bring in a new season of programming, the creative masterminds behind Sesame Street have plenty of new features to bring to this show. “My World is Green and Growing” is a two year science initiative that will begin with this 40th season, striving to increase children’s knowledge about nature and encourage behavior that shows respect and care for the environment. The “Word on the Street” segment, which was introduced a few seasons ago, will incorporate such fun words as “metamorphosis,” “habitat,” and “hibernate” to correspond with this focus on science and nature.

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With this fortieth season, the format of Sesame Street will experience a make-over. The show has been reformatted to resemble a typical broadcasting block, having four longer segments broken up with shorter skits and segments. The famous “Sunny Days” song will open and close each episode, reprising its role as background music set to images of brightly colored chalk-animation of the Muppets of Sesame Street.

Technology advances will not be lost on this new season of Sesame Street. For the first time, a muppet featured on Sesame Street will appear in a CGI animation segment. The beloved Abby Cadabby, with a group of new friends, will model how preschoolers can work together to solve problems using critical thinking skills. This problem-solving, which pans out in the magic of CGI animation,will be  continued through On-line games found on the Sesame Street website.

To date, Sesame Street has hosted over 250 celebrity guests. This new season already has a famous line of people ready to guest star alongside their favorite Muppets. First Lady Michelle Obama is set to appear on the premiere episode of this season, followed by Greg Kinner, Meredith Veira, Eva Longoria, Jake Gyllenhaul, Paul Rudd, Jenny Garth, Ziggy Marley and a variety of other celebrities.

Households around the world have welcomed the Sesame Street gang into their homes for the past 40 years. Hopefully homes will be doing the same for the next forty.  Be sure to tune into PBS on Tuesday November 10th to catch the latest season of Sesame Street.

This article was brought to you today by the letter N and by the number 40.

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