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Season 51 Curriculum: Playful Problem-Solving: Positive Approaches to Learning
Season 51 Special: The Monster at the End of This Story
Season 51 Curriculum

Season 51 Curriculum: Playful Problem-Solving: Positive Approaches to Learning

Sesame Street’s 51st season kicks off a two-year curriculum focused on playful problem-solving. Drawing on extensive research, Sesame Workshop identified a critical educational need, as today’s preschoolers commonly lack curiosity, creativity, and perseverance in the face of challenges – an issue that impacts their ability to navigate obstacles at school and in life.

“Through our conversations with educators, we learned that children quickly grow frustrated when their initial solution to a problem fails, rather than embracing the process of trial and error as they think of creative solutions for solving problems,” said Dr. Rosemarie Truglio, Senior Vice President of Curriculum and Content at Sesame Workshop. “This new curriculum, Positive Approaches to Learning, encourages children to reshape their thinking around the challenges they experience. Our Sesame Street Muppets model this approach for young viewers by working together to troubleshoot solutions, encouraging one another not to give up. They inspire creativity in coming up with new ideas and implementing them with a more resilient mindset.”

In Season 51, Sesame Street Muppets, human cast members, and guest stars alike face challenges that require flexible thinking – a critical school readiness skill that is particularly crucial in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To highlight the thinking process as they engage in creative playful problem-solving, they use the mantra “I Wonder…What if…Let’s Try!” along with corresponding gestures of pointer finger to temple, chin, and in the air, respectively, to aid comprehension. This framework for finding solutions is used in Street Stories and interstitial segments featuring kids solving new problems that are directly connected to each episode.

To further cement the mantra, the new season will debut the anthem “I Wonder, What If, Let’s Try” performed by celebrity guest Hailee Steinfeld, which will be used in Sesame Street episodes throughout the year.

Read on for examples of “I Wonder…What If…Let’s Try” coming to life in this season’s episodes:

  • Episode 5101 Ramp Racers (November 12, 2020): Elmo and Rosita want to race their ping pong balls down a ramp, but the only ramp on Sesame Street is already being used. This is a problem. They wonder if they can make another ramp. What if they use cardboard? With Julia’s help, the two friends try and don’t give up. And it works! They build two long ramps so they can keep racing—and Julia joins the fun, racing her own ping-pong ball down the ramps and becoming a ramp racer too!
  • Episode 5111 Tough Monster Race (January 21, 2021): Elmo, Abby, Grover, and Nina want to make an obstacle course on Sesame Street. But they don’t have anything to go over, under, around, or through. They wonder what they can find around them to make these obstacles. What if they use a broom to go over, a blanket to go under, pool noodles to go around, and a cardboard box to go through? It works! The friends made the best monster obstacle course ever.
  • Episode 5124 Elmo and Rosita’s Tallest Block Tower Ever (April 22, 2021): Elmo and Rosita are building a super tall block tower, but they run out of blocks. They wonder if they can use something else to build with. What if they use empty oatmeal containers, cookie boxes, and plastic bottles as blocks? It works! By using different materials, they were able to finish building the tallest block tower ever!
  • Episode 5134 Cinderella’s Clockworks (July 1, 2021): Cinderella’s clock is broken, and she to know what time it is, so she won’t be late for the ball. Abby zaps Nina and Rudy into the clock and they see that a nut that holds a gear is loose. This is a problem! Nina, Abby, and Rudy wonder what tool they can use to tighten the nut. What if they tape the wrench and cotton swab together to reach and tighten it? It works! They fix Cinderella’s clock in time for the ball.
Monster at the end of this story

Season 51 Special: The Monster at the End of This Story

Sesame Workshop’s first-ever animated Sesame Street special is “The Monster at the End of This Story” – and its star, Grover, is begging fans not to watch!

A reimagining of Sesame Street’s all-time best-selling picture book “The Monster at the End of This Book,” the special follows Grover’s reluctant journey to the end of the story, where, based on the title, he believes a monster awaits. Drawn in the unmistakable style of the beloved book first published in 1971, the special adds new sequences, songs, and surprises, and introduces other familiar Sesame Street characters, including Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster, and Rosita, to the tale.

“After nearly 50 years, the lesson in ‘The Monster at the End of This Book’ remains timeless: It‘s okay to feel afraid, but also important to have courage and keep moving forward in spite of those fears,” said Kay Wilson Stallings, Sesame Workshop’s Executive Vice President of Creative and Production. “We brought this classic story from page to screen in a way that will feel familiar to longtime fans and exciting and engaging for young viewers. By expanding the original narrative and adding new layers, we share a strong lesson in friendship, showing how Grover learns to manage his fear with the support of his friends.”

In celebration of the special, Sesame Workshop also released a video of celebrities reading “The Monster at the End of This Book,” including Kelsea Ballerini, Sofia Carson, Ciara, Stephen and Ayesha Curry, Josh Groban, Mykal-Michelle Harris, Lil Nas X, Ben Platt, Billy Porter, Maggie Rogers, Jordin Sparks, Hailee Steinfeld, Jason Sudeikis, Jonathan Van Ness, and Olivia Wilde. View the video here.

“The Monster at the End of This Story” is the official special of Sesame Street’s 51st season. The special is available now on HBO Max and comes to PBS in 2021.

Select Episode Descriptions

Camp Out Episode with Maggie Rogers
Episode 5102 Camp Out - November 19, 2020

Abby, Rudy, Elmo, and Charlie are camping out on Sesame Street. They’re just about to toast marshmallows when the sweet treats suddenly disappear! Together, the friends look and listen for clues to find out where their marshmallows have gone. Special guest Maggie Rogers adds music to the mystery.

Measuring Big Bird Episode with Haliee Steinfeld
Episode 5103 Measuring Big Bird - November 26, 2020

Nina is using a smiley face growth chart to measure how tall Elmo and Rosita are. Big Bird wants to see how tall he is too, but Nina is all out of smiley faces. What else can they use to measure their tall friend? After trying a few ideas, inspiration strikes. What if they make their own smiley faces? It works! Because they didn’t give up, all the friends—including Big Bird—could be measured. Everyone learns a great new tune, joining special guest Hailee Steinfeld in singing, “I Wonder, What If, Let’s Try!”

Cardboard Castle Episode with Issa Rae
Episode 5105 Cardboard Castle - December 10, 2020

Issa Rae is a Queen who doesn’t have enough bricks to build a play castle for her daughter. This is a problem! Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Rosita wonder: can they use something else to build the castle? What about cardboard boxes and tubes? The two friends give it a try—and it works. Because they didn’t give up, they built a cardboard castle fit for a Princess!

Holiday at Hooper's
Episode 5106 Holiday at Hooper’s - December 17, 2020

It’s holiday time on Sesame Street! When their parents run late from the holiday concert, Elmo and Baby Bear stay with Alan and Nina at Hooper’s store. But they are disappointed not to celebrate Christmas Eve and Hanukkah as they had planned. Alan wonders how to make Hooper’s feel more festive. What if they make their own holiday decorations? Elmo, Baby Bear, Nina, and Alan sing carols, eat latkes, and make lots of decorations. They create a wonderful holiday celebration all by themselves—and Elmo and Baby Bear realize that the best part of holidays is being together with friends and family.

Potluck Pickle Episode with Steph Curry
Episode 5120 Potluck Pickle - March 25, 2021

There’s a potluck party for everyone on Sesame Street, including Stephen and Ayesha Curry! Elmo, Abby, Cookie Monster, and Gonger want to bring a vegetable lasagna but don’t have all the ingredients and the oven is broken. They wonder where they can find tomatoes, what else they could use for pasta noodles, and how they can cook their dish. What if they get tomatoes from Abby’s garden, use zucchini as noodles, and cook the lasagna with Norbert’s solar oven? It works! They didn’t give up and cooked their veggie lasagna just in time for the potluck.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Band with Billy Porter
Episode 512 Twinkle Twinkle Little Band - April 1, 2021

F is for Friendship, and this episode is filled with it. Billy Porter and a musical penguin are on hand with a special song about making new friends—even when you’re feeling shy and a little bit afraid. It all starts by saying “Hi.” And when you invite someone to play with you, “you’ll have a friend, and they’ll have one too!”

Karli's Life Box
Episode 5127 Karli’s Life Box - May 13, 2021

There’s a new friend on Sesame Street! Karli is living with her foster parents, Mr. Clem and Ms. Dalia, until her mom can take good care of Karli again. Elmo and Abby are drawing pictures of their families and invite Karli to draw too. Karli says her drawing will help her remember her mom. This gives her an idea! She asks Mr. Clem and Chris for a box to put all the things that remind her of her mom in one place. Elmo and Abby think having a box is a great idea. All three go off to collect things that remind them of their families and place everything in their very own special treasure boxes.

Family Day with Kelsea Ballerini
Episode 5132 Family Day - June 17, 2021

It’s Family Day on Sesame Street, and relatives are coming from all over to celebrate! Alan’s cousin is flying in from California, Nina’s brother is driving over with his family, and Elmo’s and Abby’s parents will be there too. Meanwhile, Big Bird’s friends have a surprise for him. He thinks his Granny Bird can’t make it, but she just arrived. As everyone gets ready for a group portrait, she surprises Big Bird, and they celebrate Family Day together. Kelsea Ballerini’s music makes Family Day even more festive.

Two women and two young children smile with Rosita outdoors.

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