Can you believe that Sesame Street has been on the air for 50 years? That means that, for half of a century, Elmo and his friends have been teaching kids their ABCs and 123s, and treating their parents to sometimes hilarious) celebrity appearances on the show. From One Direction singing about the letter U to Amy Adams getting into a fight with a talking pineapple, here are some of our faves.
Nick Jonas‘s “Check That Shape” should have been a mainstream hit.
The “Jealous” singer stopped by Sesame Street to perform “Check That Shape” with Bert, Cookie Monster and The Count, which teaches kids about, you guessed it, shapes.
John Legend teaches everyone to ‘Come Together.’
John Legend visited Sesame Street to teach us all about the wonderful things that can happen when we come together, take turns and help each other. Who know Legend’s buttery vocals would work so well with Elmo’s?!
The singer’s daughter, Luna, was absolutely thrilled that her dad was hanging out with her favorite characters, and that’s honestly all that matters!
Lupita Nyong’o taught Elmo all about loving the skin you are in.
“Skin comes in lots of beautiful shades and colors,” Lupita explains to Elmo. And it’s not just for being ticklish or feeling to see if things are rough or smooth! Together the pair learn to “love the skin they’re in.”
Ryan Reynolds could barely keep a straight face singing about “The A Team.”
Teaching everyone about the first letter of the alphabet is no joke! Except if you’re wearing a giant ‘A’ and you’re Ryan Reynolds.
Lin-Manuel Miranda rapped about habitats.
After the Hamilton creator/actor/almost EGOT-winner Miranda taught Big Bird that there are plenty of places for birds to live, and in the process rapped the iconic words, “This beach is so exciting and it’s hardly ever dull/You could live next to a pelican or live next to a gull.”
Elmo helps Tyrion and Cersei Lannister learn respect.
In what some may call the most ambitious crossover in television history, Elmo popped over to Westeros in an attempt to teach Cersei and her brother Tyrion from Game of Thrones what it means to respect each other.
Ed Sheeran teaches the difference between behavior at school vs. behavior at home.
“At home I can speak where I please. I can talk real loud into the breeze,” he sings alongside Elmo, Cookie Monster and a few other puppets who are surprisingly adept at playing instruments despite puffy fingers. “In school I raise my hand in the air if there’s something that I want to share.”
Anne Hathaway stopped by Sesame Street to sing a Christmas carol with Big Bird.
Do we think that this is what got Hathaway cast in Les Miserable? If so, you could technically say that this cameo played a huge part in her winning an Oscar…
Mindy Kaling and Elmo teach the word “enthusiastic.”
And they’re really, really enthusiastic about it. Other things they’re enthusiastic about: “chickens,” “dancing,” and “dancing with chickens.” Same, guys. Same.
One Direction teaches the letter U.
“Twenty-six letters are in the alphabet, but we’re here to sing about ‘U,’ ” Harry Styles sings in this educational twist on the band’s “What Makes You Beautiful.” The adorable segment from 2014 – in those days there were five of them, sigh – explains why U is such an unbelievably unique and useful letter.
Bruno Mars sings about the importance of perseverance.
“Don’t give up. Keep on trying! You’re gonna make it; I’m not lying,” is just a small snippet from Mars’s inspirational 2011 song, which immediately became our waiting-in-line-at-Chipotle anthem.
Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris’ stint as a singing shoe fairy was legen–wait for it–dary! He appeared on the show back in 2009 and clearly had his dancing shoes prepared.
Adam Sandler came up with the cutest song about Elmo.
Elmo couldn’t figure out what rhymed with ‘Elmo,’ but the comedian was happy to lend a hand. What follows is perhaps the cutest song in the history of Sesame Street.
Amy Adams and Elmo teach the word “ingredient.”
To teach the word “ingredient,” Adams and Elmo go over each ingredient for a pineapple upside-down cake – flour, sugar, butter and pineapple. The 2011 video is all fun and games until the pineapple becomes animated and (quite understandably) irate about getting baked into a cake. (The gang comes to a compromise when the pineapple pitches baking banana bread instead.)
Emma Stone explains the concept of “balance.”
A blonde, 2011 Stone tries to balance different objects on her head – and is completely awful at it. Don’t quit your day job, Emma.
Jim Carrey performs “feets” of expression.
Happy feet? Too simple for the super-limber comedian, who popped by in 1993 to demonstrate that your emotions can play across your face or your feet.
Destiny’s Child sing a song about walking.
“I’ve got a new way to walk, and it suits me fine,” the trio sing as their puppet friends show off their new walk. While these lyrics aren’t their most compelling, Beyoncé’s red leather beret (only in 2002, people) offers up sufficient pizazz.
N*Sync sang “Believe in Yourself.”
And suddenly we all believe that we can “be what we wanna be! See what we wanna see! Go where we wanna go! Do what we wanna do!” The possibilities are endless now!
Usher sings the ABCs.
No lie: We would totally break it down in the clubs to this song, which we’re shocked – shocked – didn’t top the 2013 charts.
Halle Berry and Elmo teach the word “nibble.”
The main takeaway here is less about the definition of the word “nibble” and more about the fact that you do not mess with Berry. (She offers a “nibble” of cracker to a tiny little bird, but when the bird opts instead for a big bite, she freaks. “SHE DID NOT JUST TAKE A NIBBLE!”)
Lindsay Lohan makes her pre-fame debut.
At about 2:18, the preteen sings the ABCs, and shows a glimpse of the star power that would rocket her to fame in The Parent Trap.
Natalie Portman and Elmo make believe.
In her strangest role yet, Portman plays a princess “who loves to dance with elephants” – that is, until a highly charged, dramatic moment in which she confesses to Elmo that she’s always wanted to play an elephant. Satisfying resolution: She gets to play an elephant.