Activities

Living our Values in 2017 – Media Edition

This was originally going to be an article about a bunch of ways you can involve your kids in your politics and beliefs, but I got a little carried away with my media suggestions, so we’re going to start there, and I’ll be back soon with the other things the Parenting Geekly Family is doing to live our values in 2017 – including writing a Family Mission Statement!  I kept these suggestions as mainstream as possible to keep the barrier to entry low. You should be able to borrow or find most of these things on Amazon, streaming, or your local library.  (Note: Post conatians Amazon affiliate links).

Media

It can be intimidating to think about “resisting” or “revolution” or protesting when you have children. The good news is that you can teach your kids about justice, inclusion, diversity, activism and social justice without ever leaving your house. The easiest way to incorporate the ideals of equality, social justice, representation, and action is to make sure the media your family consumes showcases those topics.

Here is a very brief list of some of the media we’ve consumed recently:

Books
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls – Kitty received this as a Christmas gift from her Aunt Karen. It features an intersectional (white, black, Asian, trans, cis, young and old are all represented) selection of women who did what they felt was right, all delivered in short one-page stories with beautiful illustrations. This beautiful hardback book is currently on back order until February 2017 – but if you just can’t wait Amazon has a Kindle version.

Kitty’s Rad American Women Lantern

Rad Women series – I was introduced to the Rad American Women and Rad Women Worldwide books by my daughter’s fourth-grade teacher. Every year their school holds a lantern festival before winter break. Each child designs and creates a lantern. Some years the classes make punched-tin lanterns or lanterns from clay or decoupaged milk cartons. This year every fourth grader picked a woman from one of these books and decorated a vellum lantern with her portrait. It was a super cool project, and these are super cool books. Kitty’s Rad Woman was Bessie Coleman, the first African-American Woman and first Native American woman to become a licensed US pilot!

Ms. Marvel – Kamala Khan is a teenage Pakistani-American, and Marvel’s first Muslim superhero. The team of creators is diverse, and according to writer G. Willow Wilson: “A huge aspect of Ms. Marvel is being a ‘second string hero’ in the ‘second string city’ and having to struggle out of the pathos and emotion that can give a person.” It’s appealing to wide range of ages. My husband and I enjoy it as much as 9-year-old Kitty does. This trade paperback collects the first issues into a single volume.

Movies
Star Wars – Not only do the Star Wars movies feature strong women and (at least in the two most recent films) racially diverse casts, they show a group of people fighting against evil. When you watch these beloved classics, make sure you point that out!

Captain America Civil War and Civil War comic books – Marvel showed two sides fighting for their strong opinions about social justice in this comic book series (which you can buy as a collection). The film is a condensed version but shows the same message of friends fighting on opposites sides for what they think is right. This could be a great entry point for conversation if you have close friends or relatives with opposing political opinions.

TV

The cast of Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries – This period police procedural from Canada was my big surprise love this year. Available on Netflix, it premiered in 2008 and take place in the 1890s. While the main cast isn’t diverse, it deals with issues of racism, women’s suffrage, social justice and progressive politics on a regular basis. There’s even an episode about abortion. I watch it with 9-year-old Kitty, but it does have some mild violence, mild gore (realistic dead bodies), and touches on adult themes (murder, sex, religion) – so maybe pre-watch it before you get the under 12s involved.

MUSIC
The Hamilton Soundtrack – If you can’t find something to talk about after listening to this race-bent take on our Founding Fathers you’re not trying. The creators and the racially diverse cast has talked about not feeling ownership of the story of the founding of our nation because it was done by a bunch of white guys. By casting people of color as the Founding Fathers, and using hip-hop in the soundtrack, they hope to make the story of the American Revolution accessible to all.
More easy ways to incorporate inclusive media? Listen to music from genres and cultures you don’t normally include. The recent inclusion of jazz to our repertoire has introduced our kids to Nina Simone, and her “Young, Gifted, Black” performance on Sesame Street. Seek out movies with racially diverse casts, or films that feature minority casts. Watch international films and TV (streaming has made this super easy!) Avoid films and TV that whitewash. Talk to your kids about diversity in their media and why it’s important. Don’t understand why it’s important? Here, let me Google that for you.

Becoming a STEMinist with StemBox – Win a StemBox!

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Last weekend, Kitty and I were invited to join Kina McAllister, Founder and CEO of StemBox , as she led a group of 15 girls in a “StemBox Workshop”.  McAllister, formerly a HIV researcher at Fred Hutichinson Cancer Research Institute, uses the workshops to test the monthly boxes before they are shipped to girls all over the country.  We had the opportunity to test out March’s “Lemon Battery Kit”  and we were super impressed. Read on to learn all about it, and enter to win your own StemBox!

We arrived at the HiveBio Community Lab, got a name badge and the girls went into a small room.  Kina introduced herself, and then did a short lesson on electricity, the components you need to make a battery, and how the items in the kit (lemons, galvanized nails, a piece of copper and some wire) met those needs. Our mission was to create a battery that could power a small LED.  Everything we needed was included in the box that would be mailed to subscribers- with the exception of the lemons.

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StemBox Founder Kina gives a lesson on electricity.

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Safety first!

After a quick talk about safety, the girls headed downstairs to the lab. The girls were so excited to open their boxes. They had all taken the safety lesson very seriously and were all gloved up and decked out in their safety goggles in no time. Then they got down to work.  It was a little tricky for some of the younger girls to figure out the wiring pattern, as the lesson hadn’t included a mention of the multiple lemons needed to generate enough electricity to power the LED, but once that was figured out every girl successfully created a working lemon battery.  There was a little time left after the main experiment, and Kina encouraged the girls to create their own experiments. The girls added more lemons to their circuit, measured electricity with a voltmeter, added more LEDs, added more wires….it was really neat to watch the girls come up with ideas and then test them out. 

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Kit was very focused!

When this box is sent to subscribers it will include instructions and all of the materials needed minus anything perishable – which parents will have to provide; in this case lemons, some fun surprises like stickers, and links to a video demonstration and a video bio of a “STEMinist” (A STEM Feminist – I LOVE it!) currently working in the field.

McAllister came up with the idea for StemBox when she realized that the science kits that helped her get interested in science aren’t as readily available to kids today.  She knew that consistent access is a key to keeping girls interested and engaged, and a subscription box seemed like the best way to do that.  She has developed an engaging product that Kitty loved – she begged me to subscribe before we even left the building.  When we got home she was so excited to show Nate the box the folks at StemBox were kind enough to send us home with. They sat together and replicated the experiment, and then Nate showed her some other things she could do with the materials.  We’re very excited to subscribe and see what next month’s box brings!

Nate lliked it, too!

Nate lliked it, too!

StemBox is $28.33 – $36/month depending on your subscription plan. You can subscribe here.

 

StemBox has been generous enough to provide one Parenting Geekly reader with their own Lemon Battery StemBox!  Use the form below to enter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Avengers Recipe: Black Widow Blackberry Cream Cheese!

Avengers Recipe: Black Widow Blackberry Cream Cheese!

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Kitty is home from school with a cold today.  She asked me if I would make her an “Avengers Breakfast”. I was stumped until I remembered I had a few blackberries left from a carton I bought yesterday.  Blackberries, Black Widow – that would work!  I decided to make a super simple (seriously, only two ingredients!) cream cheese spread.  Kitty ate hers on a bagel, but this would be tasty as a dip for fruit, or on crackers.  Kitty had a bit on some Pretzel Crisps as a snack this afternoon!  Use it at your Avengers Birthday Party.

This “recipe” calls for just few blackberries, so it’s great way to use those last few berries in the carton that are maybe a bit too mushy to eat of hand.

You just take a few blackberries and some cream cheese and mush them together.

Berries and Cream Cheese

I used six blackberries and mushed them with a fork.  I then mixed in 4 heaping tablespoons of whipped cream cheese. I prefer whipped because you can stir it up right out of the tub, you don’t have to let it come to room temperature.

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Stir it up until it’s blended and that’s it!  You just made your own flavored cream cheese!

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