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Numerosity

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Music by Joe Raposo
Lyrics by Jim Henson
Date 1969
Publisher Instructional Children's Music Inc.
Stage Harbor Publishing, Inc.
Jonico Music, Inc.
Baker

"Ten chocolate layer cakes!"

In 1969, for the first season of Sesame Street, Jim Henson produced and directed a series of live-action short films teaching numbers. Ten segments were produced, for the numbers 1 through 10. The shorts were highlighted by the use of animated graphics, supplied by Henson, and a song, performed by the Kids and individually registered with the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers as, for example, "Ten Song (Song of Ten)." These films were shot from June 2-June 6, 1969.[1]

An internal CTW document refers to the segments as, for example, "Henson #10",[2] and the Old School: Volume 1 DVD chapter menu refers to one segment as "Henson #3". The series has also been referred to as "'The Baker' films"[3] or "baker segments"[4] due to the presence of a baker as the final gag in each film.

Each film opened with an animated sequence where kids counted up to 10 and then back to 1 (this sequence was remade in ribbon effects for various Number of the Day segments from 1 to 10 during the 36th season). Another animated sequence followed, as children would count to the specific number, in choral voice over, while animated numbers zoomed around the screen.

After the segment's number was announced, several human characters, ranging from jugglers to professors, would present that number with various objects. Finally, a baker melodically announced that segment's number of desserts, and fell down a flight of stairs. Jim Henson provided the voice of the baker, while stuntman Alex Stevens played the character on screen.[5]

In addition to the baker and the animated sequences, other recurring sequences in these segments included: a man opening a door with a question mark on it, revealing that segment's number of animals (two turtles, three crocodiles, four fish, etc); a boy with that segment's number of toys; and a boy (played by Brian Henson) presenting the segment's number of money (one penny, five dimes, etc).

In 1970, the New York Times Magazine reported on Joan Ganz Cooney's distaste for the baker's fall at the end of the segment: "'I don't like it,' Mrs. Cooney says flatly of the pratfall finale. 'Banana-peel humor is male and it's from age 4 on. Younger children -- 2-year-olds, say -- think he's hurt.' Then why does the guy stay? 'The show,' said Mrs. Cooney, 'is definitely male-oriented.'"[6] The films were eventually taken off the show for being deemed too violent.[7]

All ten films can be viewed as individual videos or here at Sesamestreet.org.

In the video Counting with Elmo, he sings a portion of the song to himself (where the song counts down form 10). Additionally, instrumentals from the song are used through the video.

"One Song (Song of One)"

  • (EKA: Episode 0086)
  • Baker: wedding cake
  • Notes: The original script for this segment indicates that an eye and an elephant were also to be counted with the penny, bird, and belly button, but were replaced by a wind-up toy and a cow in the broadcast version This is the least aired of the series due to the small amount of Sesame Street episodes in the early years that were sponsored by 1.
  • Releases: Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days

"Two Song (Song of Two)"

"Three Song (Song of Three)"

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"Four Song (Song of Four)"

  • (First: Episode 0006)
  • Baker: root beer floats
  • Notes: Some of the toys were used again in the #10 film.
  • Releases: Numbers.

"Five Song (Song of Five)"

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"Six Song (Song of Six)"

  • (First: Episode 0011)
  • Baker: strawberry shortcakes
  • The girl in the third counting scene calls the six bats "six flying things".

"Seven Song (Song of Seven)"

"Eight Song (Song of Eight)"

"Nine Song (Song of Nine)"

  • (First: Episode 0016)
  • Baker: coconut custard pies
  • Notes: Rowlf makes a rare Sesame Street cameo in this film.

"Ten Song (Song of Ten)"

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Sources

  1. Jim's Red Book - 6/2-6/1969 - Shoot #s (4th Chef Falls)
  2. "First Season Show Content", found at the CTW Archives.
  3. Borgenicht, David. Sesame Street Unpaved. p. 44
  4. Morrow, Robert W. Sesame Street and the Reform of Children's Television. Index.
  5. Talk: Number Song Series
  6. John Culhane, "Report Card on Sesame Street," New York Times Magazine, 24 May 1970, pp. 18 ff.
  7. Jim's Red Book - 6/2-6/1969 - Shoot #s (4th Chef Falls)

Start a Discussion Discussions about Numerosity

  • Numerosity

    3 messages
    • Does the Red Book mention "Numerosity" at all? I'd be for using that title.
    • Ditto on moving to an actual sourced title. The text still mentions the legal registration for the songs, and the CTW invoicing, so I'm all...

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