POPULAR CULTURE AND CIVIC IMAGINATION TOOLKIT
Let's Compare Stories
Created by Christopher Persaud
NUTS AND BOLTS
This activity invites cross-generational dialogue through popular culture fandom. Adults, youth, and children explore similarities and differences between contemporary and older stories. This helps start conversation about changing media representations across different time periods and genres. TV shows often tell us something about how people thought about a social or cultural topic during the time period that the show was made. Today, we might not use certain words or consider certain things to be entertaining that people 50, 30, or even 10 years ago thought were okay to do. This can be a good way to start a conversation about intergenerational differences regarding media representation, social justice issues, and other important topics with the child.
Recommended Age Range: 5+ (younger children may need support/prompting)
Participants: 2 (one adult and one youth/child)
Duration: 30 minutes (in addition to time spent watching media content together, one TV show episode is likely around 20 minutes long)
Materials Needed and Space Requirements:
In Person: A pen and colored pencils can be enough.
Internet-Friendly Option: Synchronous video conferencing platform (Facetime, Zoom, Skype, etc).
Learning Opportunity: This activity invites participants to engage stories and genres as they explore how narratives and representations evolve over time.
Older participant: Choose an episode of a show from your childhood. Watch this together with your child/youth. As you watch the show together, explain why you enjoyed it when you were younger.
Younger participant: Choose an episode current show that you like and that connects somehow to the first show. To find this connection, think about how the show looks, the characters it includes, the main story, or anything else that you notice. Watch the show together with the older participant/adult.
Compare and Chat
Once you have watched both shows, take a moment to reflect and think about how they compare. Depending on the age of the participants, you could take a few minutes to note down your thoughts and/or you could make a quick drawing comparing the two shows as well.
Next, take a few minutes to chat about the following:
What did you notice about the two shows?
How were they similar? How were they different? (split a piece of paper down the middle and track your observations)
Did your shows have a moral or lesson? Note how these have changed (or not) in the two shows?
Take a few minutes to imagine how you might combine these two shows to create a new show.
What would you keep from each show?
What would you definitely not include and why?
You can continue to expand on this activity by enacting a scene from your ‘new’ show using props and toys that you have on hand.
Print out the printer friendly version of this activity and the toolkit here.
Print the character cards template here.