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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sesame Street: Elmo's Playdate is a half-hour special on PBS that brings Elmo and a crew of friends together through a video hangout. With help from his dad, Elmo dials up a number of Sesame Street pals and real-life celebrities, and they share news about what they've been doing, play games, sing songs, and find other ways to connect virtually. For kids still getting used to virtual learning and online playdates, this special is a great way to help them understand how it works. It can also spark joy and appreciation for the ability we have to connect with friends and loved ones through technology. Elmo and friends share reminders about things like washing hands and the power of imagination, and they take time to thank all the essential workers and other everyday heroes who are making a positive difference during the quarantine.
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What's the story?
SESAME STREET: ELMO'S PLAYDATE is a half-hour PBS special that brings together Elmo and some of his furry (and not-so-furry) friends over video chat technology. With help from his dad Louie, Elmo calls up Grover first, who is having problems with his "new phone" and keeps getting muted and then accidentally projects himself upside down. From there, Elmo calls up a number of pals. Tracee Ellis Ross shares what she's been doing during quarantine (walking on the treadmill and knitting -- though she's sure to mention not at the same time). Cookie Monster has been trying to make cookies, but he ate the recipe. Taye Diggs and Elmo share a flashback to the time they sang the "Let's Go Driving" song together. Abby and Rosita count together in Spanish and English (during which the Count pops up to finish counting). Lin Manuel Miranda says he's playing "pretend" and then he and Elmo sing "Old McDonald Has a Farm."
Throughout the playdate, there are quarantine-related messages lightly sprinkled throughout, with friends talking about delivering groceries for others, washing their hands for the duration of the birthday song, and getting creative at home using materials they find around the house. Anne Hathaway and Elmo sing "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," while suggesting they only point towards their face during those parts, rather than touch. They collectively thank all the medical professionals, garbage collectors, grocers, police officers, and other essential workers before all the friends get back together on the screen for a singalong of the Carpenters' iconic track "Sing" in closing.
Is it any good?
Part of Sesame Workshop's Caring for Each Other initiative, this sweet special starring Elmo and friends is positive and cheerful while subtly acknowledging the changes and challenges of isolation. Grover's issues with his technology, Cookie Monster's inability to get to the store to buy more cookie ingredients, the reminder that Julia's dad is an EMT so he isn't able to be home with his family right now... they are a subtle reminder to kids that life is indeed different right now, but we're all in it together. Kids will be drawn to the virtual fun in Elmo's Playdate, like the silly dance they're called on to do when Elmo blows a horn and seeing what kind of activities their friends have been getting into. Parents will find reassurance in the positive exchanges between friends and important messages about gratitude and staying safe and healthy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Elmo and his friends use technology to connect with one another. Have you had any video chats with friends or family? What did you like about connecting this way? What were the challenges? Would you rather chat one-on-one or in a group?
Talk about what the characters have been up to during their isolation. What has Grover been up to? Cookie Monster? What about Taye Diggs and Lin-Manuel Miranda? How do different people find ways to have fun?
Did Elmo's Playdate inspire you to reach out to some of your own friends? What are some ways you could show your friends and family you care about them and are thinking about them during these times of isolation?
- On DVD or streaming: April 14, 2020
- Cast: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tracee Ellis Ross, Taye Diggs, Anne Hathaway
- Director: Matt Vogel
- Studios: HBO, PBS, Sesame Workshop
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 25 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: October 22, 2020
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