Sesame Street iPhone Apps for Sesame Workshop

Introducing the beloved children's characters to a new platform

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational group that revolutionized children’s television with the launch of the landmark Sesame Street program in 1969. The show, which has since become a household name, is now watched in more than 150 countries worldwide. The Workshop also creates educational content for new media platforms, and partnered with IDEO to design a line of Sesame Street-themed apps for Apple’s iPhone. The Elmo Calls app, which functions as a utility app for parents and as an entertaining behavioral-development app for kids, is now one of the Top 100 paid iPhone apps in the iTunes store.

“As Sesame Street marks this milestone year, we continue to innovate through the latest media platforms and offer our fans the best of Sesame Street whenever and wherever they are,” said Jeffrey Fleishman, assistant vice president for media distribution business development, Sesame Workshop.

The collaboration began with a mutual desire to bring the show’s beloved characters to the iPhone platform – and to do so using a human-centered design approach. Child-development experts, educators, toy and interaction designers, and even the Sesame Street puppeteers weighed in on the design decisions. The team also worked closely with families throughout the project — from initial concepts to early prototyping to the final development — in order to stay focused on how children actually use the iPhone for play. The games were designed accordingly. For example, the team omitted menus from the Sesame Street apps to keep the experiences simple, playful, and fun for a young child. And each game features exclusive new Sesame Street videos, allowing players to enjoy “lean back” moments along with interactive ones.

The resulting iPhone applications let children engage with the favorite Sesame Street characters in a whole new way. Kids touch, shake, swipe, and tilt their way through original games featuring Elmo, Grover, Bert, Rosita, and The Count.

The titles, all of which are available from iTunes, include:

  • Elmo Calls: Elmo Calls engages 2- to 5-year-olds in listening-skills practice and active participation during everyday situations.
  • Elmo’s Monster Maker: Elmo’s Monster Maker allows kids to create unique monster friends that dance, play with Elmo, and surprise players with their ridiculous behaviors.
  • Grover’s Number Special: This game engages kids in the silly antics of catching, counting, and spilling food while they help Grover prepare an impatient restaurant diner’s meal.
  • Count TV: The Count invites children to watch nine classic Sesame Street clips and count each thing in the videos along with him.
  • Bert’s Bag: Bert offers more practice with numbers, asking kids to tally all the neat stuff he’s collected in a brown paper bag, from Ernie’s rubber duckie to his stash of doorknobs.
  • Rosita’s Jump Count: This movement and learning title has players use the iPhone to jump rope with Rosita—and count each hop in English and Spanish.

For more iPhone apps designed by IDEO, read about Balloonimals and Party Whistle.

Project date: 2009


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A look at the prototyping for Elmo’s Monster Maker.
A look at the prototyping for Elmo’s Monster Maker.
Pick up the phone, Elmo’s calling!
Pick up the phone, Elmo’s calling!
A young user offers feedback.
A young user offers feedback.
Opening screen for Elmo’s Monster Maker.
Opening screen for Elmo’s Monster Maker.
Oversized iPhone helps adults see the device from kids’ perspective.
Oversized iPhone helps adults see the device from kids’ perspective.
The packaging for Grover’s Number Special.
The packaging for Grover’s Number Special.
Elmo explains the Monster Maker.
Coe Leta hangs out with the project team.
Coe Leta hangs out with the project team.

Sesame Street iPhone Apps at the iTunes Store

Purchase Elmo’s Monster Maker, Grover’s Number Special, Bert’s Bag, Rosita’s Jump Count, and Count TV at the iTunes store.