Children playing with Noor

Media, Play, and Healing in the Midst of Crisis

New research shows significant impact of media on children’s emotional development

On the first-ever International Day of Play, Sesame Workshop and partners share new evidence from our Play to Learn initiative showing that media-integrated playful learning can improve children’s emotional development.

Play to Learn harnesses the power of play to promote learning and healing for young children affected by conflict and crisis. Combining the expertise of Sesame Workshop, BRAC, the IRC, and independent evaluator NYU Global TIES for Children, Play to Learn designs educational media and direct services; generates evidence about reaching and supporting young children during a critical period of their development; and advocates at local, regional, and global levels to include the needs of young children in policy and funding decisions.

Read more about Play to Learn in the Annual Report and learn more about this research in our evidence for investment synthesis and research briefs from NYU Global TIES for Children.

Woman playing blocks with a child.
Play is much more than fun.
It’s how children learn and build cognitive, physical, social-emotional, and creative skills that last a lifetime. For children who have experienced a traumatic event, play is a lifeline — a way to relieve stress, regain a sense of normalcy, and create moments of joy.
Woman and child viewing Watch, Play, Learn
Deepening Learning, Strengthening Bonds
New research from Colombia on using our videos shows the power of media to help children develop foundational emotional skills and build healthy relationships with caregivers.
Watch, Play, Learn early learning videos

are portable, scalable, and flexible animations that children anywhere can relate to and learn from. Designed to reflect the needs and experiences of children affected by crisis, the Watch, Play, Learn videos feature beloved Sesame Workshop Muppets learning through play to promote skills in math, science, social-emotional learning, and health and safety. These videos can be viewed independently by children and are even more powerful when viewed with caregivers.

Reaching Beyond

Play to Learn has far exceeded project targets, reaching over 33 million children in 32 countries through broadcast media and direct services, and demand is growing.

Group viewing Watch, Play, Learn videos.

Broadcast –

Play to Learn has reached 31 million children through broadcasting Watch, Play, learn early learning videos.

Teacher with children.

Direct Services –

Play to Learn has reached a total of 2.5 million children, caregivers, and facilitators in homes and early learning centers.

Teacher in a classroom with chidren.

Global Reach –

Play to Learn’s content and media-enhanced programs reach children and families affected by conflict, crisis, and displacement in 32 countries.

Impact Stories

Watch, Play, Learn in Colombia 

Over half a million children under age five have been affected by civil conflict in Colombia, and many others have been forced to migrate with their families from Venezuela.

Research shows that secure emotional attachments between children and caregivers can mitigate the effects of adversity and promote healthy development — that’s why Semillas de Apego partnered with Sesame Workshop to use Watch, Play, Learn videos to promote quality time for bonding and to support caregiver and child well-being.

Learn more
Mother holding children.

Parenting Support by Fathers, for Fathers 

Mothers in a Play to Learn parenting program in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh voiced an important request: they wanted a similar parenting program for their husbands. Fathers have a crucial role to play in caring for their children and creating a nurturing home. An independent evaluation showed that this program designed by and for fathers had positive effects on family dynamics, like reducing harm and promoting the kind of positive nurturing care that improves outcomes for children.

Learn more
Father Playing with his baby.

Tuktuki helps teach children
Play to Learn
Play to Learn is a trailblazing program that is providing children affected by crisis opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive.
Rosita at a picnic with a family.

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