In honor of one 40th birthday, we thought today we’d celebrate a different kind of bird: Big Bird (and the whole Sesame Street gang, of course). For exactly four decades—the first show aired November 10, 1969—these gargantuan characters (both in size and celebrity) have extolled the virtues of learning through colorful, fun, simple lessons.
This season and next, Big Bird and crew go green, highlighting nature education with new songs, storylines, and animation “designed to stimulate a child’s knowledge and appreciation for the natural environments.” With the world’s heightened attention on eco-everything, this shift seems apropos for a show whose longevity comes, in part, because it shifts course to match changing trends.
Who better to launch the two-year “My World is Green and Growing” than Michelle Obama, the fourth First Lady to appear on Sesame Street (the others were Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush) but the only of the quartet to bring an organic vegetable garden to the White House.
Obama will plant seeds with Big Bird, Elmo and several Sesame Street children.
The First Lady’s obviously a big star, but she’s a minor character in this episode called, “Frankly It’s Becoming a Habitat,” during which Big Bird almost leaves Sesame Street to migrate to a warmer rainforest clime. (He first checks out a beach and a swamp.) Bird’s friends convince him how much he would miss if he left.
Other green episodes this season include one about amphibians with Patricia Arquette, a nature-is-all-around-you show with Jimmy Fallon, and an episode that teaches Cookie
Monster to like apples as much as cookies. Climate change is a topic notably absent from the lineup. “Global warming and deforestation—those are really adult concepts, and it’s just too scary for children,” Rosemarie Truglio, vice president of research and education at Sesame Workshop, told National Geographic.
Even so, it’s an exciting time to live on Sesame Street; with all the green happenings there, it’s apt to be around for at least another 40 years.