I wish that I had been able to make this post before hurricane Irene had hit the eastern United States.  It’s easy enough to talk to adults about the before and after of a hurricane, but the preschool age children need a little more finesse and careful presentation in order to give them information that they can understand and take in.

Sesame Street has put together a “hurricane toolkit” that parents can use in order to help their youngsters understand what’s happening.  This is a five-part series of videos, each about 15 minutes long, which shows what happens when a hurricane threatens Sesame Street.  The series starts with the residents of Sesame Street making preparations and taking precautions before the storm hits.  They tape their windows, secure loose equipment along the Street, gather emergency supplies, and they even talk Oscar the Grouch into taking refuge in Bob’s apartment in advance of the storm.

The series goes on to show how various family groups (and their animal or monster friends) react when the hurricane hits Sesame Street.  The adults model calm behavior, and they help soothe the children, monsters, and animals when they get scared.  The adults tell the youngsters (and monsters and animals) that it’s perfectly alright to be afraid, since it’s a scary event!  But, the residents of Sesame Street did everything that they could to make sure that nothing too bad happens.

When the storm passes, everybody chips in to help clean up the mess that the hurricane left behind.  Fortunately, most of the damage is minor, and nobody got hurt.  On the other hand, as the cleanup moves down the street, we learn that Big Bird’s nest is ruined.  We see the Sesame Street folks try to comfort Bird (who is rightfully upset, scared, and angry in turns) while everybody helps clean up and rebuild.

We also see one of the monsters, Sully (I think.  I haven’t had Sesame Street aged children in my home for several years, so am a little rusty), pull what can be only be described as panicked after-the-fact preparations.  He runs around with a pinwheel (“high tech hurricane warning device!”), rain coat, hard hat, and head lamp, ready for the next hurricane.

If you have preschool aged children in your home (or know someone who does), I really recommend this series of videos as a tool to help them understand what is happing and what the impacts might be.  Since they are produced by Sesame Workshop, they are written especially for the younger crowd.  They present good, useful, and accurate information in a clear and non-threatening manner.

Once again, the link to the Sesame Street hurricane toolkit is http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/hurricane.