Big Bird's Big Influence: 7 Sesame Street Videos Teaching Kids Green
Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, and the rest of the Sesame Street crew have a direct line to your kid's growing mind. For more than 40 years, this show has been teaching generations everything from numbers and letters to science and social responsibility -- and respect for the environment has shown up more than once, too.
From basic, kid-friendly concepts like saving energy and not littering to more philosophical sketches about sharing the Earth with other species, these seven videos teach kids (and adults) that it's easy being green. And don't miss our previous slideshow, Sesame Street's Top 10 Environmental Videos.
1. "Outdoors" with Jason Mraz
Musician Jason Mraz, who resolved to eat local, recycle more, and conserve water in 2010, stopped by the Street for a nature-inspired take on his hit song "I'm Yours," rewritten to show off the joys of getting out of the house.
In "Outdoors," Mraz and a gaggle of Muppets sing the praises of nature, with lines like: "Open up your door and be like me/ open up your door and then breathe free/ look at all the beauty/ you'll feel love, love, love, love/Listen to the music of the wind and the birdies sing/We're just one big family/And all of nature deserves to be loved."
2. Stand By Your CanVideo: You Tube
One of the things Sesame Street does best is put kid-friendly messages into adult-approved songs (like "Letter B" instead of "Let It Be") -- and this twangy version of "Stand By Your Can" from Tammy Swinette sets an anti-litter message to a catchy tune.
Your kids may be too young to recognize the song, but they definitely won't miss the message.
3. Garbageman's BluesVideo: YouTube
This classic clip follows a day in the life of a garbageman, from trash pick-up to what happens at the landfill.
And while, for kids, it's a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse at what happens to your trash after the giant truck takes it away, the message is a bit dated: Landfills don't all get turned into parks, and having "all that waste" isn't as much of an argument for crushing trash as it is for making less in the first place -- but the shout-out to recycling is a nice touch.
4. Cameron Diaz Talks Trees with GroverVideo: YouTube
We love the way Sesame Street calls on A-list celebrities for help with everything from explaining the word "binoculars" or "arachnid" to encouraging them to be proud of who they are.
But Grover's thrilled to hear about everything trees do -- like cleaning the air and providing food -- and your kids will be, too. (For a classic treehugging cartoon, check out "Conservation" on the Sesame Street workshop website.)
5. Big Bird Visits a FarmVideo: YouTube
It can be hard for little ones to grasp the concept of where their food comes from -- even Big Bird thinks that boxes and cans are all you need to put together a meal.
In this clip, our favorite yellow-feathered friend leaves the big city behind for a trip to a local farm, where kids teach him about planting, growing, and harvesting.
Consider it your child's introduction to the world of local eating and whole foods -- but be prepared for a lot more questions about what kind of tree grows fruit snacks.
6. Save Your Energy for MeVideo: YouTube
Cookie Monster and his dad teamed up for the classic "Conservations with my Father" episode of Monsterpiece Theater, where Papa Cookie Monster explains the importance of turning off the faucet and the lights -- but this country-inspired ditty gets the message across in an even catchier way.
From turning out the lights when you're done reading to shutting off the TV before you leave the room, these simple reminders will help your kids save energy (and lower your energy bill).
Now, if only they explained phantom power, too...
7. We Are All EarthingsVideo: YouTube
The original version of this song had a world of Muppet animals and plants singing about what they have in common -- that they all rely on the Earth -- but for this contemporary update, singer Jill Scott takes the lead with the Muppets singing backup.
Still, the message is as clear as it was when the clip premiered: We all depend on the same world, and what one species does affects all the others.