Zhima Jie (芝麻街) is the Chinese co-production of Sesame Street. The show was produced from 1998 to 2001, for a total run of 130 half-hour episodes. There was an unsuccessful attempt to revive it for the 2004 season, however it returned in 2010 as Zhima Jie: Da Niao Kan Shijie (Sesame Street's Big Bird Looks at the World). The program focused on teaching basic skills, such as literacy, numeracy, and an appreciation of the arts.
Prior to the co-production, Sesame Street had been dubbed into Mandarin in 1981 and distributed through CCTV.
Development and Curriculum
The development of Zhima Jie was based on China's experts in child development, education, and media to create the show to better educated the young children in China. Through the adviser's group discussion and seminar, the China experts came up with five objectives that they want to address in the show.
1. Symbolic representation - goals related to literacy, such as learning Chinese characters, and numeracy, such as counting and identifying geometric forms.
2. Cognitive organization - skills such as auditory and visual discrimination and classifying quantity and shapes
3. The child's world - goals such as identifying body parts, learning about emotions, and problem solving
4. Family and society - goals pertaining to family structures, family activities, social relationships, and the child's environment
5. Aesthetics and arts - the senses, artistic expression, and creativity. A study conducted by Jin Li and Jimei Li (published in Early Education & Development, Vol. 13, No. 4, October 2002, pps. 379-394) "found that Zhima Jie's purpose to reach Chinese preschool children through television 'corresponded to their needs and desires for learning. The program's educational goals met overwhelming love and appreciation from those children studied. One reason for this impact, they speculate, is the fact that "Zhima Jie's goals were a product of Chinese educators' thoughtful design, not a transplantation of US Sesame Street materials."
Cooper Wright, a senior producer in CTW's international television group, said about the show, "It's not an American import. We feel it's very important that these countries, if they can, produce their own `Sesame Street' that's representative of their own culture. Kids are going to learn more if they relate to the characters as opposed to them being foreign characters."
Original Cast (1998-2001)
- Da Niao (Big Bird), an identical cousin of Big Bird, the first replica of the original, according to The Wisdom of Big Bird by American Big Bird Muppeteer Caroll Spinney.
- Hu Hu Zhu (Whirring Pig) is an ageless, furry pig who is quite proud of his blue fur. He's also very proud of the long line of illustrious artistic blue pigs, which he is descended.
- Xiao Mei Zi (Little Plum) is a bright red monster who is curious and level-headed. She also snores very loudly!
- Old Lady Wang, a Tai-Chi practitioner and music lover who also owns the noodle shop and adjacent phone room.
- Uncle Tian operates a bicycle repair shop.
Zhima Jie re-launched with a science program, Da Niao Kan Shijie, on December 22, 2010. The series consists of fifty-two 11-minute episodes.
Tie-in merchandise included assorted school materials, such as erasers, pencils, ballpoints, and binders. Tyco produced a line of Zhima Jie plush in 1996.