Happy Birthday, Jim Henson!

“When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.” – Jim Henson

I think we can all agree that Jim Henson did just that. By creating the Muppets and Sesame Street, he helped shape the childhoods of multiple generations.

To honor him, we’re going to celebrate his birthday (September 24).

We’ll start by reading and discussing I am Jim Henson (Brad Meltzer/Chris Eliopoulos). According to Goodreads, “Jim Henson was always dreaming up something new, and always expressing his belief in the goodness of people.”

As a teenager, Jim Henson found a job as a puppeteer at a local television station. This opportunity, along with hard work, led to the creation of the Muppets. After working on various shows, television producers Joan Ganz Cooney and Jon Stone presented him with the opportunity of a lifetime. They wanted Jim Henson and his Muppets to be part of a show that would give all children an avenue through which to learn how to read and count.

On November 10, 1969, our first grade teachers gathered all of us in a common area and wheeled in the television. My teacher told us that we were going to watch something that would change the world. That show was Sesame Street and she was correct. I wish I could ask Mrs. Earle how she knew that.

We’ll continue celebrating by singing The Rainbow Connection with Kermit. And, we’ll get some color work and fine motor work in by making and enjoying Rainbow Connection Fruit Skewers:

You’ll Need (per student):

  • 1 raspberry (red)
  • 1 cantaloupe chunk (orange)
  • 1 pineapple chunk (yellow)
  • 1 green grape (green)
  • 1 blueberry (blue)
  • 2 plum chunks (indigo and violet)
  • 1 wooden skewer (I cut off the pointy tip.)

Directions:

  1. Thread the fruits in the order you see above.
  2. Enjoy!

Lastly, we’ll make our very own puppets. Jim Henson used his mother’s coat and ping pong balls to create his first Kermit. We’ll stick with the following puppet-making items!

You’ll Need:

  • 1 adult-size sock (stripes and/or dots make cute puppets) per child
  • felt
  • hot glue gun/hot glue sticks
  • buttons or googly eyes
  • yarn
  • accessories (bowties, hair ribbons, glasses, hats, etc)

Adult to prep:

  • Felt – cut out circular pieces for the opening of the puppet’s mouth, cut out pieces for tongues)
  • Yarn – cut pieces for hair

Directions:

  1. Kids choose eyes, hair and accessories for their puppets.
  2. Kids put socks on their hands.
  3. Kids touch fingertips to their thumbtip inside the sock. Push the fabric between them to make a mouth. Adult makes a mark where the mouth will be on each puppet.
  4. Kids take the puppet off their hands.
  5. Adult uses the glue gun to adhere mouth, tongue, eyes, hair and accessories on each puppet.
  6. Let cool.

Jim Henson, you continue to make a difference. Happy Birthday!