Half century of clocks, craft and children’s entertainment

BenitaAndDonLong before Dora went exploring and a pig called Peppa ruled our screens, there was Play School. Good old trustworthy Play School.

It’s Play School’s 50th anniversary on July 18th and time to celebrate 50 years of clocks, circular windows, craft-time and cuddles.

Each day thousands of parents around the country rely on Big Ted, Little Ted, Humpty, Jemima and all their friends to entertain thousands of Aussie children … and who can forget the Rocket Clock – who is going to tell the story today? And will we look through the Round, Square or Arched window? Communicating messages to a young audience can be difficult at times, but Play School has managed to reach children over and over again for 50 years and counting.

It’s such an iconic part of the Australian Culture that the Australian Mint has designed Play School currency for the show’s anniversary.

The ABC had a dedicated program to reflect back on 5o years – it showed the wide array of Australian actors who have graced the colourful set. And it gave Sally from Summer Bay a chance to test her Play School presenting skills.

Many of us grew up watching Playschool. Watching the people teach us how to craft and create magical objects out of everyday household items – cue the toilet rolls.

Among those teachers is Benita Collings, one of Play School’s longest-serving presenters who appeared on the show for 30 years. Some actors say it’s one of the best gigs you can get. We all have our favourite. Here’s a look at some of the names over the years 

A lot of people think that screen time is bad for kids. But there is a brand-new study showing that with a lot of thought the “right shows” can even “ease aggression in young children”.


What is it that makes Play School so good and helped the show along on its half century journey? Well there are people with games….

  • It’s got the perfect cocktail for preschoolers. The show has just the right amount of talking, singing and dancing.
  • It mixes up the sorts of subjects: science, history, literature, art and emotional skills (it’s ok to be sad) and also helps teach kids the difference between right and wrong.
  • It educates children with all the good things disguised behind catchy lyrics and movements. Children are watching and being educated without even knowing it.
  • Play School is engaging and consistent – if you’ve ever had to entertain a 5-year-old you’ll understand this can be difficult. It’s a show that encourages little and big to play.
  • Different actors, talking straight to the camera –making it seem like it’s just you, the TV and the characters. Children love this.

The faces changed over time, but the Play School tune has stayed the same. And the rocket clock is still there. It may be digital now but it’s still a clock that connects Australians.

50 years on television is not a just a great achievement it’s a rarity. Play School is an Australian television icon and that’s why we’re c = celebrating.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

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