The Challenge

Create iPhone apps that celebrate the beloved Sesame characters and take advantage of the unique interactive possibilities of the iPhone platform for children ages 3 through 6.


  • Webby People's Voice, Family & Kids Apps, 2016
    Kidscreen Award, Best Game App, 2016
    IDEA Silver, Web and App, 2012
    Webby Award, Parenting, 2011 Top 50 iPhone Apps for Kids, 2010

The Outcome

A family of iPhone applications that let kids touch, shake, swipe, and tilt their way through original games featuring their favorite Sesame Street characters Elmo, Grover, Bert, Rosita, and the Count.

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.

Pick up the phone, Elmo’s calling!

Elmo Calls 626Px Mini

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.

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.

An oversized iPhone helps adults see the device from kids’ perspective.

Ses 5 626Px

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

  • Elmo Calls: Engages 2- to 5-year-olds in listening-skills practice and active participation during everyday situations.
  • Elmo’s Monster Maker: Allows kids to create unique monster friends that dance and play with Elmo.
  • Sesame Street Video Maker: Lets kids star in their own music videos, mashing recordings of themselves with popular Sesame music videos and adding their own stamps and special effects.
  • Sesame Street Makes Music: Helps kids explore an array of instruments as they contribute to new renditions of classic preschool tunes with their Sesame friends.