All Articles Tagged "play"

Teaching Girls To Dream

October 23rd, 2015 - By Kweli Wright
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What did you imagine you’d grow up to become?

It’s a simple question, but most of the women I know had no idea what they wanted to be when they were young girls. Yes, they’re now successful and happy, but pursing their passion just wasn’t even a thought at the time. I always felt a little strange because I was so clear about wanting to be a writer from a very young age. Fortunate enough to grow up on a home where whatever we imagined we could be, I took dance classes, piano lessons, enrolled in art classes and was an active library member. I also look back fondly on my massive collection (I had about 20) of Barbie dolls, which I asked for every birthday and holiday—even better was the fact that the dolls were beautiful and brown, a reflection of me.

Since becoming a mom 10 years ago, I’ve always been into the idea of stepping outside of the expected when framing my daughter’s mindset. Yes, of course, you can be a doctor (like your auntie) and a pastry chef (like grandma).

Today when I ask my daughter what she wants to be when she grows up, she can rattle off a list of highly-focused goals for the decade ahead of her. It’s pretty awesome, but not as rare these days that girls know what they want.

Kids and young people are savvier than ever (they’ve got trend-setting and entrepreneurial skills to boot) but if they’re fortunate, our little girls are also seeing how having dreams and pursuing a passion can turn into a reality.

Take Zendaya, for example. My daughter looks up to the actress and singer as a role model. When Barbie created a Zendaya doll, my daughter was thrilled—not only to see the doll rocking the hairstyle she was slandered for, but also because she realized that Zendaya’s dreams were real and coming true.

The message is so necessary that Barbie is starting a new chapter in their 56 year legacy with the launch of a film called “Imagine the Possibilities,” the kick off to a series that focuses on the importance of open ended play.

Watch the video:

In the video, you see five vivid imaginations run loose on unsuspecting audiences resolving to a simple truth: when a girl plays with Barbie, she imagines everything she can become.

Here’s the thing: It’s a rough world out there. My daughter knows she’s free to tell me and ask me anything. I ask my daughter questions too. I listen to her responses and always take them to heart. There are so many influences around her daily—from friends and school, television and social media—but it really matters what goes on in our home. I want her to always feel safe to dream and create and play.

I don’t want my daughter to think there’s anything wrong with being pretty, looking nice and dressing up, but I also do want her to understand that she can be and want outside of what’s presented to her. Design that computer program. Build your own dollhouse out of boxes and craft paper. Dominate the math team and the school play. Why not? You can be anything your imagination will allow.

When your child plays with a Barbie doll, what does she imagine?

Barbie Facebook

Barbie Twitter

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Barbie. The opinions and text are all mine.

How are you teaching girls to dream?

Why We Love The Play Like A Girl Campaign To #BringBackPlay

May 19th, 2015 - By Rich
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I still remember stepping outside my house in my Queens, NY neighborhood and being excited about bike-riding, playing “Duck, Duck Goose” or jumping double dutch with my friends just steps away from my home. Recess was always my favorite time of the day. Outdoor play was always an integral part of my childhood and it scares me sometimes to think that my baby girl Cadence lives in a world where most child’s play now happens in front of a digital screen.


Today, more than 12.5 million American girls are overweight or obese. Millions more are physically inactive and missing out on sports which have been shown to contribute to higher test scores, less risky behaviors, increased likelihood of college attendance, higher earnings potential and reduced risk of chronic disease.

So I was really intrigued when a good friend of mine, Trina of BabyShopaholic, told me about this new campaign from the Play Like A Girl!® nonprofit organization. Her daughter Peyton is actually featured in it (she’s the cutie with the red shorts above!) and the campaign is committed to raising awareness about the importance of physical activity in the lives of girls—especially in the Deep South where obesity rates are highest.

The Play Like A Girl campaign’s mission is to inspire girls everywhere to live happier and healthier by promoting physical activity as a path to lifelong success. I mean, think about your own childhood. Where would you be without those group games, sports and bike-riding adventures you grew up on? Those childhood activities breed healthy habits that continue into adulthood.

christina Brown-and-cadence-3

I love the message behind it and I’m vowing to make sure Cadence has an active and playful childhood as well.

Read more at Baby Brown Sugar 

Child’s Play Is Serious Business

October 8th, 2013 - By Rich
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Raising children isn’t child’s play but being one is. Children experience their world through play. Play is the basis of learning in the primary years of life. Play stimulates healthy brain development, language skills, emotional expression, physical and cognitive ability.  Cognitive development is the brain’s ability to process new information, think reasonably, problem solve, remember and relate what you learned to what you know about the world.

Letting our children go wild with playing can mean a messier home, spills, more dirty clothes to clean and sometimes even cut knees and scraped chins we need to tend to.  All of that sounds like more work for moms and it is. But it is essential to allow our children to play and to join them in their play sometimes. If your child is not naturally motivated to play or you find yourself constantly discouraging playtime, you have a problem. When parents understand what play means to children and what it looks like, they become more inclined to support the playing process.  So, here is a guide to help you help them.

Newborns and Infants: The youngest of babies experience everything as play. Changing diapers, smiling at family, being fed and carried, holding a small toy, being sung to, watching mom move around the room–it’s all play to them. When you see your baby staring at you or grabbing or throwing an object, that’s play too! Join in the fun, follow their lead and copy their actions. Be sure to offer sound, space (to lay, roll, kick and throw), diverse environments (home, park, bus, store, sunshine) and varied texture (carpet vs. wood floors, hard vs. plush toys, bath water vs. raindrops).

Crawling and Cruising Toddlers: These almost-walking children are mastering physical control as they learn balance, coordination and muscle control. It is a very exciting time because they are becoming confident explorers! They are now interested in toys that have many possibilities like big chunky stacking toys, wooden blocks, nesting cups, shape sorters and toys for water and sand play. These are all toys that will keep your toddler engaged in creative imaginative play for hours a day.

Walking and Talking Toddlers: Items that promote imagination and imitation like cellphones, TV remotes, keys and your high-heeled shoes become their toys of choice.  Now is the time to put all important items in the house away and turn your home into one big child’s playroom. Let them play themselves into exhaustion. This is the perfect time to add things Play-Doh, scooters, crayons, finger paints, mini basketball hoops, dress up clothes and little tents to their toy chest. It is good to allow your children to play with toys across genders and generations. Rotary telephones, astronaut suits and feather boas are good for the imagination of both boys and girls, so try not to restrict them.

All of this play can feel like work to moms but it is worth it to try and be creative about how you make time to get involved in your child’s play. You and your child can play clean-up games while you are actually cleaning or let them help you cook and have a picnic in their room at dinnertime.

There will come a time when schoolwork, practicing a craft and writing a top-notch essay for college take precedence over play but early childhood is now is not that time.  The first few years of life are essential to who your child will become and how they will get there. Supporting and encouraging play is the single most important gift you can give your child.

Tag, You’re It! Top Outside Games We Played In The 80’s

April 15th, 2013 - By Kelly Franklin
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

When you were a kid, all you needed was your crew and a warm sunny day to have a ball. There was no sitting in the house, bored stiff with nothing to do. You would run wildly, like your life depended on it, from the kid chosen as “it” or play one of these other classic childhood games. Which were your favorite?

Work It!: 2013’s Top 10 Areas For Innovation

January 16th, 2013 - By C. Cleveland
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I’m so excited to launch the newest business column on Madame Noire: “Work It!” Every month we’ll dive into emerging trends, the future of work, and the innovative ways businesswomen are updating how they do business. The nature of work is changing at a rapid pace. Follow “Work It” to get a head start on what the future holds and shake up business as usual to take on this new era.

To establish the “Work It” circle of trust, I’m giving up one my most guarded, secret business weapons: JWTIntelligence. The think tank of one the world’s best-known marketing communications brands, JWTIntelligence’s gift for predicting trends would make Dionne’s psychic friends gag with envy. JWT has released 100 things to watch in 2013. We’re counting down the top ten trends you should be thinking about.

Fulfilling Her Destiny: Singer Michelle Williams Headed Back To The Stage!

January 5th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"Fela pf"

Joseph Marzullo/

People always have a lot of shade to throw at former Destiny’s Child members not named Beyonce but there’s one that always seems to be working.

Michelle Williams is on her way back to the stage in yet another acting role. Playbill has confirmed that she’s been added to the national tour of the phenomenal musical, “Fela!”Williams will play the character of “Sandra” in the musical which will begin at the end of January in Washington, D.C., and play in 16 cities, ending in Oakland, CA.

Miss Michelle is no stranger to acting. After Destiny’s Child parted ways, she took on the lead role in Aida and also played Shug Avery in the national tour of The Color Purple. The acting stage has become more of a first home for her over the singing stage in the last few years.

In a statement, she said:

“I am thrilled to join the cast of Fela! This musical journey is one that I’ve wanted to be a part of since first seeing it on stage in 2008. The sounds, the passion and the politics of Fela Kuti have long intrigued me and speak to my heart. I am simply honored.”

That’s wonderful news for her! If Fela! comes to or close to your city, you should check it out. It’s so exciting and fun while telling the story of a revered man and they love audience participation.  It is a wonderful experience.



New Toy Alert: Easy Bake Ovens For Boys

December 19th, 2012 - By Rich
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Do you let your little boy wear pink? Would you allow him to wear a skirt to express himself? Some parents want to keep the gender lines drawn tight when it comes to their sons and will sometimes go the extra mile to keep their sons in the “boy lane”. So what if your son wants to be a Master Chef or a Baker? Gordon Ramsay and Cake Boss had to start somewhere right?

A company well known for making billions of dollars off of the desire of little girls across the world to bake to their hearts content has a new release on the horizon. Hasbro says it will soon reveal a gender-neutral Easy-Bake Oven after meeting with a New Jersey girl who started a campaign calling on the toy maker to make one that appeals to all kids. McKenna Pope, 13, of Garfield, N.J., got more than 40,000 signatures on her online petition at and the support of celebrity chefs including Bobby Flay, who backed her call for Hasbro to make a gender-neutral oven and to include boys in the ads.

She was prompted to start the petition after shopping for an Easy-Bake as a Christmas present for her 4-year-old brother, Gavyn Boscio, and finding them only in purple and pink. Hasbro invited McKenna and her family to its Pawtucket, R.I., headquarters to meet with its Easy-Bake team where they showed off a prototype of their newest Easy-Bake. The new edition will be black, silver and blue. Hasbro has been working on the new color scheme and design for about 18 months, and decided to invite McKenna to see it and offer her thoughts, said John Frascotti, Hasbro’s chief marketing officer.

McKenna said the company is doing everything she asked, including putting boys in the ads. “I think that they really met most or even all of what I wanted them to do, and they really amazed me,” she said, adding that her little brother Gavyn thought the new design was “awesome.” As for McKenna’s Christmas present for her brother, she said the TV show “Inside Edition” gave the family an Easy-Bake Oven after learning of her campaign.For Christmas, she said, she’ll probably buy him some mixes to bake in it.

It’s nice to see a child learning that she has a voice and that it’s okay for it to be heard. Nice job, Hasbro!

Words by Sid Powell

Nine Cost-Effective Ways To Enjoy The Holidays

November 29th, 2012 - By Blair Bedford
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Looking for a little more to add to your holiday plans besides the normal tree trimming, stocking stuffing, and gift giving festivities? With a little planning and a just few dollars, you can experience the holidays in many different ways.

So, put away your wallet, pull out your planner, and gather your friends and family, because with these nine cost-effective holiday plans, you’ll be celebrating the season without breaking the bank.


Potluck Dinner/Cocktail Party

Nothing says the holidays more than the extra pounds you gain from eating grandma’s favorite Christmas sides. Spare grandma the extra man hours of cooking for the entire family. Gather her and a few friends for a Christmas potluck-style dinner and cocktail party. Not only is a potluck gathering cost-effective for everyone, but it brings a little variety (and maybe even a little competition!) to the dinner table.

Ask guests to cook their best dish (make sure no one doubles up) and have one designated person to serve as bartender. Grandma would be more than happy about saving her time and money this year!

Video: Melanie Fiona Kills “4 AM” on Jimmy Kimmel & Estelle Says “Thank You” on Letterman

February 29th, 2012 - By madamenoire
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First of all, can I say I love the yellow pumps she’s rocking? In fact, the whole outfit is pretty cute, even the cheerleader ponytail is on point too. But anyway, Melanie Fiona, one of our favorite people, hit up Jimmy Kimmel’s sound stage to serenade a stiff crowd and her fans with “4 AM” LOVE, love that song (is your lover creeping with a dancer? Let’s hope not), and the performance is pretty awesome as well. This girl’s voice does not waver and is undeniably strong. I’m really going to need people to stop sleeping! Be sure to pick up her new album, The MF Life on March 20, but in the mean time, tell us what you think about Ms. Fiona and the track after you check out the video below:

As for our girl Estelle, she showed up looking pretty gorgeous in a floor length white gown and her fabulous dark red hair to sing her track, “Thank You.” This song is not bad to me, but live, Estelle seemed to sing it in a timid way and at times she did more yelling than singing. Not sure why, but I’ve heard her do better. Either way though, can’t deny she looks great! Check her out on Letterman’s stage and tell us your thoughts on the song and performance. And don’t forget to pick up her new album All of Me, which just was released:

Love these jams?

More on Madame Noire!

I’m a Big Kid Now: 10 Toys Every Woman Should Have Had as a Girl

February 15th, 2012 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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As a kid, everyone had their favorite toys: whether it be a doll, a cool tea party set, a teddy bear–you name it, we claimed it, and when we got old enough to act like we didn’t care for toys anymore, we were still sad when mom decided to give our favorite toy to someone who needed it more. Yeah, childhood was great and simple, and our toys made it that much better. After seeing that there is a toy fair going on in NYC currently, it inspired me to create this ode to the dopest toys from our childhood. Time to walk down memory lane ladies!



Easy-Bake Oven

Born and bred in the 1960s, the Easy-Bake Oven was most young girls’ first real foray into cooking. While the boxed oven of goodness came with cake mix, if you were like me, once those sweet concoctions ran out, you were working with anything you had in the house. I can’t tell you how many Frosted Flakes and grape jelly cakes I was cooking for folks in my house (they weren’t too excited to eat them though…). Definitely a defining toy in many homes for the little gals and the hungry big brothers.