Elmo Calls iPhone App for Sesame Workshop

An interactive educational tool that encourages children to engage in imaginative play, practice new skills, and sing songs with Elmo

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street and other beloved children’s brands. Its projects bring critical lessons in literacy, numeracy, health, and wellness to children in 150 countries.

Sesame Workshop partnered with IDEO to design a mobile software application that would function as a utility app for parents and as an entertaining behavioral-development app for kids. The goal was to deliver a “magical experience” for young families looking to ease the often difficult behaviors displayed by 2- to 5-year-olds during routine activities, such as potty training, getting dressed, and going to bed. In the app’s first 30 days on sale, Elmo made more than 4 million calls to kids. By June 2012, more than 20 million calls had been made and Elmo Calls was listed in the iTunes App Store as an “essential” app for kids.

Elmo Calls offers children an interactive experience with the beloved red, furry monster on Sesame Street. Kids receive or initiate pretend video calls, audio calls, and voice mail messages, and are entertained with fun sing-a-longs, imaginative games, and educational opportunities (such as learning the alphabet and to count). Meanwhile, parents can activate or schedule calls from Elmo related to a variety of everyday situations.

Parents give the app glowing reviews. On the iTunes Store review page, one dad notes, “My 3-year-old has never been so excited to go potty, brush his teeth, clean up, and go to bed. I have the schedule set to have Elmo call four times while he’s preparing for bed, and he just ran around doing everything Elmo told him to do. He even tried to go brush his teeth without myself or my wife.”

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Project date: 2011

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