Here's one way to encourage kids to get outdoors, or at least plant the seed: enlist Elmo and Murray of "Sesame Street" fame to make videos about nature and our national parks. Who better to influence today's preschoolers than the famous Muppet characters that have been relating to them for years?
It is for that reason that Elmo and Murray teamed up with the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation to produce a series of six short, online videos entitled "Sesame Street Explores National Parks."
So, Elmo's World now includes the Grand Canyon National Park and Gateway National Recreation Area in New York.
"These videos and activities will inspire children to hop, skip, or jump to their nearest national park or green space," said National Park Service director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "We hope they have fun and get excited about spending time outside. At this age, every bug, mud puddle, or fallen log is fascinating. We want to tap into that sense of wonder and curiosity and plant the seed for lifelong exploration."
The 4-minute videos portray a visit to these national parks by Elmo and Murray. The characters are dressed like park rangers as they meet with a real park ranger from Grand Canyon and Gateway national parks.
From the National Park Service: "The videos offer a multimedia park experience for children ages 3 to 5, and their families and educators, using the power of media to promote science learning through experiences in national parks as well as in local parks and backyards.
"The videos teach young people about habitats, seasons, plants, and animals. They learn how to conduct an animal survey, look for nests, identify migration patterns, and simply listen to the sounds of nature."
"This is very child-focused, stimulating children's natural curiosity and bringing that exploration to the natural environment," Sesame Workshop senior vice president of education and research Rosemarie T. Truglio told The Washington Post.
"Children are natural scientists, and we want to encourage them to get outside and to explore the world around them using all their senses—to explore and investigate and learn."
Photos are YouTube screen grabs.