A Best Friends Collaboration: Hopster and Sesame Street

In exchange for my honest opinions, the Twins were gifted a subscription to Hopster, a preschool learning and entertainment app. All opinions are 100% our own, as always.

Admittedly, when I first downloaded Hopster onto our iPad, I did so without the kids around and definitely spent some time diving into the games, shows, and songs. It was for research purposes, but it was also oh so fun! I felt comfortable adding this app to our home screen, a place where the Twins know to go for fun learning activities. 

A Best Friends Collaboration: Hopster and Sesame Street

Growing up in the 80’s, I was totally a fan of Sesame Street. Now that it has been showing for over 40 seasons, I’m passing on that love to the ‘lil Burghers. When I heard that there was a learning app that also included Sesame Street, I knew it had to be worth giving a try. We’ve been using Hopster in our house for a little over two months and are happy with the added learning the Twins have been getting. Even the Bigs don’t mind giving up a little bit of ‘building’ on the iPad to spend some time helping their sisters learn.

In January, Hopster (a preschool learning and entertainment app) announced that they were partnering with Sesame Street to bring short episodes of the beloved show to their app:

Available now, the collection includes short-form Sesame Street segments called Global Grover, Count TV and Best Friends.

Relying on its Discovery Learning Map that Hopster developed aligned with a number of early childhood curriculums from around the world, the platform takes pride in featuring shows that are not only fun but have clear educational value. With its focus on research-based early learning, Sesame Street – the longest-running American children’s television series – adds a notable asset to Hopster’s line-up, with new segments that support its mission to help kids learn through the shows they love.

The newly-added Sesame Streetsegments teach children about the world around them, numbers, basic academics and looking after themselves.Global Grover shows kids the diversity of the world we live in, teaching them to respect different languages, cultures and religions; Count TV teaches simple mathematical concepts and counting; Best of Friends offers important lessons presented by Elmo and Abby Cadabby about dealing with emotions, taking turns while playing, bicycle and road safety and more.

Leila Ingram, Head of Learning at Hopster is excited about the educational value the new shows add to the app and comments: “Hopster’s core mission of helping children learn while they play is, in many ways, like so much preschool entertainment content, inspired by the incredibly high standards set by Sesame Street for nearly fifty years. We are honored and excited to collaborate with Sesame Street and to be able to offer its cherished content to our Hopster users.”

“Sesame Workshop is committed to delivering quality educational experiences wherever kids and families learn and play,” said Lili Lampasona, Senior Director of Media Business Development at Sesame Workshop.  “As families’ media habits continue to grow and change, we’re thrilled to partner withHopster, an innovative and child-centered provider of educational preschool entertainment.”

Hopster is offering a limited number of Sesame Street episodes to users free of charge. Additional episodes can be accessed via a free seven-day trial ofHopster’s subscription. Thereafter, for a low monthly fee of $4.99 Hopster subscribers will get access to all the newly-added Sesame Street segments as well as hundreds of further kids’ TV episodes, music, nursery rhymes and learning games.

How We’re Using Hopster

While we love the Sesame Street episodes, Hopster also offers some fun games and songs. Once we’ve downloaded games and songs, they stay on the iPad, so Hopster is something the Twins can play with when we’re on the go, too! Mama admits that the lullabies is the favorite – I sit the iPad outside the Twins’ bedroom door so that they won’t stay up all night playing their games or watching episodes and let it sing them to sleep.

We heart Hopster because they don’t believe in drawing a line between learning and entertainment, there are no ads, and the characters are ones we know and love.

About Hopster

Hopster is a beautifully designed app for the under-sixes, aiming to strike the perfect balance between learning and fun. For one low monthly subscription with no tie-ins, Hopster subscribers get access to one of the largest selections of kid’s TV shows in the UK with stimulating games, nursery rhymes, music and books from HarperCollins.

Hopster can be downloaded free from the App Store and Google Play and can be found on selected smart TVs such as Apple TV, EE TV, Freesat and Roku.

Find out more about Hopster on their website.

5 Reasons Pre-School Years Are Prime Time For Learning

Our family has some pretty strong thoughts on the importance of pre-school learning. Both of school-age kids attended pre-k programs, and we’re hoping the twins will start in April. Until then, we’re working on some learning activities at home and in the region. (This post contains affiliate links.)

Pre-School Learning

There is some compelling research about pre-school learning. The years before school age are vital to preparing – as a former teacher, I can attest to this! In our house, we are letting the girls explore toys like the Square Panda and Leap Pad to help with letter and number recognition as a starter.

News & Experts shared the information below with me, supporting our thoughts.

5 Reasons Pre-School Years Are Prime Time For Learning

Much of the discussion about education focuses on the K-12 years, but some early childhood education experts suggest serious learning can start even earlier and pay dividends for the child in years to come.

“Young children have the capacity at a very young age to be academically challenged, and we need to educate them strongly during those years instead of waiting until they are older,” says Alise McGregor, founder of Little Newtons (www.littlenewtons.com), an early education center with locations in Minnesota and Illinois.

“Children’s minds are like sponges when they are very young. Under age 5 is the most important time for development and our best opportunity to set up children for success. If we strongly educate children at a very young age, while their brains are so pliable, by the time they reach kindergarten, their brain capacity is much higher.”

Recent research confirms that the first five years of life are particularly important for the development of the child’s brain. Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child reports that in the first few years, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second, building the brain’s architecture.

This growth of the brain’s network establishes a fertile foundation for learning, thus an opportunity to be better prepared for grade school and beyond, experts say. One analysis of several studies, “Impacts of Early Childhood Education on Medium- and Long-term Education,” showed that children exposed to high-quality pre-kindergarten education performed better academically in later years. Early education also led to higher graduation rates, fewer special education placements and less grade retention.

McGregor suggests five reasons parents should consider ramping up their pre-K child’s education:

• Socialization. Socialization with people other than the child’s family in a safe environment is an essential foundational element. “It’s important to introduce our children to other children and support their transition into their own friendship groups, and the earlier we do this, it helps children overcome shyness and gain self-confidence,” McGregor says.

• Personal experiences. These assist the brain’s organizational development and functioning in many situations, helping children develop learning skills as well as social and emotional abilities. “A good early-education center creates an environment where imagination, love and innovation all come together for a daily adventure,” McGregor says.

• Enthusiasm for Learning. Lessons can be given in a fun and exciting way that will encourage children to be effective learners. “Feeling inspired and excited to learn takes root in preschool,” McGregor says, “and can last a lifetime.”

• Learning respect for others. A fundamental building block for happiness, friendships and success in life starts early by learning how to share, cooperate, take turns and be nice. “By carrying on conversations, following rules, listening, accepting consequences of actions, the child learns early how to start getting along in the world,” McGregor says.

• Resilience. It’s important that early childhood educators and parents work together to develop resilience in children as early as possible. “By creating a consistent and stable environment with clear expectations and predictable consequences, children can develop skills in managing themselves and their emotions,” McGregor says. “They may experience bumps, bruises or losing a game, but this is the foundation for building coping strategies for greater challenges in life.”

“The first five years of life are the most critical,” McGregor says. “It is far easier to train a child than it is to fix a broken adult.”


Pre-School Learning in Pittsburgh

Yesterday I participated in a Twitter party for Trying Together, the Pittsburgh region’s advocates for early childhood education. They are committed to collaborating “with early care and education professionals, families, and other individuals to advocate together, partner together, and learn together, to create a future in which caregivers feel valued; children have access to high-quality, early learning environments; and families have the resources they need to support their children’s early childhood experiences”. If you are in the Pittsburgh-area and are passionate about pre-school learning experiences for our ‘lil ones, engage with them on Facebook or Twitter!

We need to remember that children are trying, too — trying to understand their feelings and their world, trying to please the people they love, trying to grow. When grownups and children are trying together, just about anything can be possible.

— Fred Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 1986
What’s your take on pre-school learning?

My First Telescope

Enter disclaimer text Evan received the GeoSafari Jr. My First Telescope in exchange for this review. 

My little scientist Evan loves the outdoors. Between gardening, playing soccer, checking on his ant farm…I’m honestly not sure how he has time for any of the things he likes to do inside! When I heard about the GeoSafari Jr. My First Telescope from Educational Insights, I knew that it was something perfect for him.

my first telescope



My First Telescope

Here are some of the features of this telescope, designed specifically for little scientists ages 4-6…

  • Focus-free, easy-setup (we had it put together in a minute flat!)
  • 10x Magnification with wide field of vision, built-in diagonal mirror, and lens cap
  • Two large eyepieces with comfy goggle and nose cut-out guide for perfect eye placement
  • Adjustable tripod for tabletop viewing (collapsible for easy storage)
  • Multilingual instructional guide showcasing the phases of the moon

Evan started out checking out things like trees and house in the distance during the day and worked his way up to seeing the moon and stars at night. We just might have a ‘lil boy who is up around the clock watching all the things in his ‘lil world around our house, huh?

kid telescope

If you’d like to pick up your own My First Telescope, they are available through Educational Insights or Amazon. This one is recommended for children ages 4-6.

Arianna was gifted a telescope by Grandma and Pop Pop last summer, also from Educational Insights. She wanted to suggest it for other big sisters out there! *wink*

Be sure to go visit Educational Insights on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for information other neat kiddo learning products.

Jungle Crew Lab Set

Enter disclaimer text This post, Jungle Crew Lab Set, is one such post.

We’re kind of a family of dorks, so it’s no surprise that Evan loves the GeoSafari® Jr. Jungle Crew Lab Set™ from Educational Insights. The Jungle Crew Lab Set allows him to explore science concepts (with mom and dad’s help) without realizing he’s learning STEM lessons.

Jungle Crew Lab Set

We started out by simply learning how to use the tools, and gave him (and Arianna) some time to explore them using water in the bathtub. Our next steps are to use the included activity cards to blow up balloons and make mini lava lamps (plus 8 other activities!).

The Jungle Crew Lab Set is available at EducationalInsights.com for $29.99. It is recommended for kids ages 3+ (and does need some adult supervision).