During the first 6 seasons of Sesame Street, each episode began with an animated sequence that ended with the show's episode number. The first year used a clay animation by Jim Henson, while the subsequent years used an array of cartoons by Cliff Roberts.
International co-productions that premiered during the 70s (with the exception of Sesamstraat in the Netherlands), including Plaza Sésamo, Sesamstrasse, and Vila Sésamo also used a few of these animated sequences (particularly Birds, Gong, and Flowers) during their early years. However Sesamstrasse continued to use these segments long into the 1990s, as well as creating their own opening animation sequences. The German edits of the aforementioned re-used segments from the original American version also had different soundtracks and redrawn colors. Those segments were phased out after 1995, when Sesamstrasse stopped airing repeats of the 80s episodes, and the number sequences were eventually discontinued after 2000.
The following is a listing of known animated sequences.
A unicorn and abstract man form the words "SESAME STREET," which is then placed on an arch. The episode number appears below as the two enter through the arch. The animation was done by Jim Henson. (First: Episode 0001)
- This animation appears would be used for all of Season 1.
- The unicorn would be utilized in a Jim Henson clay animation insert teaching the letter U (First: Episode 0037) while the abstract man would appear named Quincy (voiced by Henson) in another on the letter Q. (First: Episode 0043)
An egg cracks open, causing a bird to pop out, holding a box. A smaller bird holding an upside-down hat pops out of the box. From the hat, a pelican's head emerges and he opens his beak, revealing a little bird who sings some musical notes. The notes dissolve into the words "Sesame Street" and then fade into the episode number. (First: Episode 0131)
- This segment is most commonly seen on Monday episodes (and Friday episodes during season 3).
- This animation appears in On My Way to Sesame Street movie viewer cartridge.
Two people stand under a sign that says "Sesame Street". Through gibberish, one of the characters asks how to get to Sesame Street, and his friend helps point him towards the right direction. The words on the sign then fade to the episode number. (First: Episode 0133)
- This segment is most commonly seen on Wednesday and/or Tuesday episodes.
A artist paints the words, "Sesame Street" on a yellow paper and proudly shows it off to the viewer. The letters then slide off the paper onto the ground, then the episode number appears. The painter walks away, disgusted, as the paper is left floating in midair. (First: Episode 0135)
- This segment is most commonly seen on Friday (or occasionally Thursday) episodes.
- It is also the only segment without any background music at all.
- This segment is most commonly seen on Tuesday episodes (or occasionally Monday episodes during season 3).
- The segment for Episode 0276 is available on the Old School: Volume 1 DVD.
- On Vila Sésamo, the second flower (which usually showed the episode number) showed a smiley face.
- On Rechov Sumsum, the original animation was often used as a standalone insert wihtin a program, minus any episode number and with the "Sesame Street" title cut.
- An excerpt of this film appears briefly on I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story.
- This segment is most commonly seen on Thursday (or occasionally Wednesday) episodes.
- This sequence appears in the Sesame Street Movie Viewer Cartridge: Shapes.
- Noggin utilized this animation for an interstitial, "Sesame Street Hits," as an introduction to a classic segment.
- This segment is most commonly seen on Monday episodes (and Friday episodes during season 3). It can also be seen on two episodes of Old School: Volume 1 DVD and one on Old School: Volume 2.
A man blows a balloon that says "Sesame Street", then it deflates with the man hanging onto it, after the words jump out of the balloon. The man then falls flat on his face as the episode number displayed at the bottom. (EKA: Episode 0327)
- This segment is most commonly seen on Wednesday episodes (and Tuesday episodes in Season 3).
- This segment is most commonly seen on Friday episodes (and Thursday episodes during season 3).
- It also has the longest running length.
A trumpet player plays a jazzy version of the theme song as the letters that spell “Sesame Street” fly out of his horn. As he plays, the letters, slightly separated from each other, flicker in different neon colors. Then, upon the last note, the trumpeter collapses from exhaustion and disappears, as the "Sesame Street" text merges and switches to normal, and the episode number appears. (EKA: Episode 0333)
- This segment is most commonly seen on Wednesday and/or Thursday episodes.
- This segment is most commonly seen on Tuesday (and Monday episodes in Season 3) episodes.
Two fish swim past a blue screen, blowing out the letters to the word "Sesamstrasse". A big fish swims by and swallows the text and then blows out a bubble with the episode number.
Two birds on a wire fly off, and the wire stretches into the "Sesamstrasse" text. After the wire stretches down to normal, the two birds fly down again, holding a towel with the episode number.
A musician struggles with blowing some notes on his tuba. A little man appears to help and dances on the valves, as the tuba player plays the Sesamstrasse Theme, as the "Sesamstrasse" letters come out of his tuba. Upon the last note, a pink bubble emerges, showing the episode number.
A driver gets into his car, and another man pushes the car from the back to the "Sesamstraße" sign. The driver then honks his horn, and the episode number appears over the sun.
Like the first version, the driver gets into his car, except he's already parked underneath the "Sesamstraße" sign. The second man nods for him to go, and is engulfed in smoke as the driver takes off. A third man arrives on the scene and holds up a fake sun under the sign (where the episode number is shown), as the second man honks a bicycle horn.
As the hands of a clock slowly turns, each of the numbers turn into the letters of the word "Sesamstrasse". When the hand reaches the 12, the alarm rings, and a female hand turns it off, causing the letters and the hands to fall off the clock, as the letters arrange into said title. The episode number than shows up on the now-empty clock.
A group of buildings are shown, as the sun sets and the day changes into night. As the moon rises, the windows in the building light up to form the "SESAMSTRASSE" text and the episode number flashes on the moon.
An owl takes some rectangular blocks out of a box and begins forming some shapes. Afterwards, he has another idea, and tosses them aside as they form the "Sesamstrasse" text and a circle below, where the episode number appears.
A man emerges on a desert island and forms "SESAMSTRASSE" with some sand. The "island" he's sitting on reveals itself to be a whale and it swims off, as the episode number appears on the actual island.
A gopher, while using a map to find Sesamstrasse, makes several dirt holes spelling out the title.
- The episode numbers were originally white, and then later black in season 2, but switched to varying colors as early as Episode 0176.
- The Gong and Artist segments are the only ones not to feature any variation of the Sesame Street Theme playing.
- Starting with season 4, the ten main segments appeared on certain days of the week in an orderly fashion. (This was not always consistent for certain weeks, such as the "Snow" story arc for season 5.) Said order (based on the last digit of the episode number) usually went like this:
- 1 (Mondays): Birds
- 2 (Tuesdays): Flowers (sometimes Sign)
- 3 (Wednesdays): Sign (sometimes Gong)
- 4 (Thursdays): Gong
- 5 (Fridays): Artist
- 6 (Mondays): Woodpecker
- 7 (Tuesdays): Mad Scientist
- 8 (Wednesdays): Balloon
- 9 (Thursdays): Trumpeter
- 0 (Fridays): Rocket