I quit watching Sesame Street in the 80′s, but apparently the show keeps adding more to the mix.
Led by lovable muppet Elmo, Sesame Street’s lessons have been keeping up with the times. They’ve added segments in which Elmo checks his email, Elmo discusses the importance of regular exercise, and now the latest: Elmo learns to budget.
With a lesson in budgeting from bestselling author Beth Kobliner, Elmo learns to divide his coins between three jars: one for spending, one for saving and one for sharing.
Elmo is inspired to learn financial management after his own hard-knock lesson: he receives $1 and contemplates buying either flowers or ice cream, but ultimately decides he wants to spend it on the biggest, shiniest new toy, “Stupendous Ball!”
“It makes music, but that’s not all …
There are lights on Stupendous Ball!
When Elmo falls in love with Stupendous Ball, the retailer compliments Elmo’s discerning taste:
“Well, I can see you’re a fellow who knows a quality bouncing object.”
Elmo basks in her compliment and bursts into a duet about the caliber of the Street’s hottest new toy:
Stupendous means ‘great,’ and I will announce -
Stupendous Ball has some great bounce! …
It’s really great! It is tremendous!
Admit it — this ball’s stupendous!
But when Elmo tries to ring up his purchase, the seller informs him that it costs a whopping $5! Elmo doesn’t need to count on his furry fingers to realize that five is more than one. (Anyway, muppets only have four fingers.)
For $1, all Elmo can afford is Stinky Ball. (Fortunately, Sesame Street doesn’t issue lines of credit.)
Distraught that he can’t afford Stupendous Ball, Elmo gets a job. (That’s right … our favorite furry creature is entering the work-spend-work-spend cycle.)
After repairing an ice-cream maker, Elmo earns another dollar, bringing his net worth to $2.
This launches a week of Elmo hustling for cash — he folds laundry, he collects recyclable bottles. Each new dollar he earns, he saves in a jar.
“On Wednesday Elmo wanted to buy
Ice cream that he craved,
But Elmo didn’t spend it all,
No, that day, Elmo saved!”
His work pays off — Elmo earns $5, enough to buy the Stupendous Ball. But just as he’s about to make the purchase, he encounters a distraught Cookie Monster. If muppets could cry, Cookie Monster would be bawling.
Cookie Monster explains:
Me on way to bakery to buy cookie, and me had dollar to pay for it. But me got so hungry on way that me ate the dollar! And now me have no money for (sniffle, sob) — COOKIE!!!!!”
So … Cookie Monster is financially irresponsible, eating his money rather than saving for what he truly wants. If I were in Elmo’s furry little shoes, I would have taught Cookie Monster lessons on how to save, rather than rewarding his irresponsibility with a handout.
But such lessons are perhaps too complex for Sesame Street’s target audience. Elmo, in a grand gesture of generosity, gives Cookie Monster a dollar — relinquishing his long-held dream of buying Stupendous Ball.
Though this generosity, Elmo learns to downsize.
Elmo downgrades his desires, settling for Fantastic Ball (which only costs $4, instead of $5), and finding contentment in an adequate toy. It’s not the shiniest and biggest bouncy ball on the market — but it’ll do for now.
You can view the segment in Sesame Street’s For Me, For You, For Later workshop on saving, spending and sharing.
Photo courtesy Play With Me Elmo
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