Play with Me Sesame is a 24-minute program that premiered on Noggin on April 1, 2002. At the time, Sesame Workshop co-owned the Noggin channel. The show features a framing structure starring Grover, Prairie Dawn, Ernie, and Bert doing interactive activities, while also showcasing old inserts from Sesame Street. A rewritten version of "Somebody Come and Play" served as the show's theme song.
The first two seasons were produced for Noggin, with animation provided by Nickelodeon Digital in New York. The first season contained 26 episodes and the second season, which premiered on June 7, 2003, contained 17 episodes,. In the second season, Cookie Monster, Ernestine, Slimey, and Zoe started making occasional appearances on the show. Chicago the Lion also made at least one appearance. The third and final season was produced solely by Sesame Workshop in 2007 with 26 episodes. The show aired on Sprout from 2007 to 2016.
By 2004, the footage from the first two seasons was re-edited to form new versions of the episodes to be shown in international markets. Season one remained 26 episodes, while season two was turned into 52. These versions were additionally shown on Sprout.
A typical show follows this format:
- Ernie Says ... (similar to "Simon Says")
- Classic Muppet clip
- Prairie Dawn showcases drawings made by kids
- Classic Muppet clip
- Bert plays on the computer
- Classic Muppet clip (a song segment)
- Bert shows computer-generated "oatmeal art" submitted by kids
- Classic Muppet clip (an Ernie and Bert segment)
- Finale: Grover invites the viewer to dance with him (occasionally includes a classic clip)
The later re-edits of the first two seasons cut Prairie Dawn's segment and would often fill the time with an additional Sesame Street insert. The Sprout airings featured her segment only during The Sunny Side Up Show, where it would cut to art presentations live in the studio. These airings also omit some sections of the show involving live children.
For the third season, the format was altered in many ways. "Ernie Says" was replaced with a series of interactive games with Ernie, Prairie Dawn's segment focused on music instead, and Grover's musical segment would be preceded by a series of set-up scenes shown throughout the show.
- In Britain, the series is modified to include Domby and Kit; see Play With Me Sesame (UK).
- When Play with Me Sesame aired on the Hallmark Channel in Asia in October of 2003, the Prairie Dawn segments were cut out.
- In Denmark the show was included as its own segment on Sesamgade. It was also included as its own segment on Brazil's Vila Sésamo.
- Baghch-e-Simsim in Afghanistan includes locally-produced live action segments.
- Broadcast in over 50 countries, the series is currently seen on such networks as Disney UK, Disney Asia, ABC Australia, YTV/Treehouse Canada, Cartoon Network India, MiniMini (as part of Sezamkowy Zakątek, known as Bawmy się, Sezamku, or "Let's Play Sesame"), Minimax, Magma, Rai Sat Ragazzi, Rai Gulp & Rai Yoyo. Small portions of the show are used and dubbed for episodes of international coproductions of Sesame Street, including Takalani Sesame, Plaza Sésamo, Sesamstrasse, Ulitsa Sezam, Rechov Sumsum, and Sesamstraat.
- The show's central international audience has been in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as a few Nordic countries. It has additionally been dubbed in several languages for home video release (chiefly as part of Oznoz's series of home video-specific dubs).
- When the series aired on Discovery Kids in Latin America, despite retaining many of the voice actors from Plaza Sésamo, the characters' American names were used.
- The show's opening titles were partially reshot for the second season, while incorporating unused clips from the first production season. When the series was re-edited for international markets, all three seasons instead used the opening from the first season, which was edited to remove shots of live children.
- Fran Brill as Prairie Dawn and Zoe
- Eric Jacobson as Bert and Grover
- David Rudman as Cookie Monster, Ernestine and Chicago (Season 2)
- Steve Whitmire as Ernie (Seasons 1 and 3)
- John Tartaglia as Ernie (Season 2)
- Pam Arciero
- Lisa Buckley
- Tyler Bunch (Season 3)
- Jim Martin
- Carmen Osbahr
- Matt Vogel
- Producer and Director: Jocelyn Hassenfeld, Nadine Zylstra (Season 3)
- Head Writer: Karen Kuflik, Christine Ferraro (Season 3)
- Writers: Joey Mazzarino (Season 3), Cathi Rosenberg-Turow (Season 3)
- Puppet Wranglers: Andrea Detwiler, Michelle Hickey, Lara MacLean
- Music Composers: Mike Renzi, Russell Velazquez
- Noggin Press Release
- End credits of seasons 1 and 2
- Official Sesame Workshop page (archive link)
- Season 2 of Play With Me Sesame begins Saturday June 7th, May 23, 2003
- Production slate