Most youth enjoy spending time with their parents, according to the nonpartisan Child Trends research center. But what can you do together? Reinventing Barbie is a fun and educational after-school activity.

Adena Young, Berkley University student, said speaking of Barbie, “What children see are the physical and social norms that we have placed on human beings. From these norms they learn how to think about the world around them.”

Rethink these ideals with new occupations, hair-dos, fashion and cuisines for Barbie.

Barbie Goes to Work

Give Barbie an education. Dress Barbie as a college student with a bag and notebook. Help your child prepare a lecture from her homework to give Barbie, or imagine what the first day of school would be like at your child’s dream college.

Explore an occupation. Dress Barbie up for your child’s dream job and create a scene for her to work in. A forest ranger Barbie could wear camping gear, boots and sunglasses. Paleontology Barbie could dig up those little rubber dinosaurs in the backyard.

Barbie’s Hungry!

Is your child bored with those plastic shapes called “Barbie food”? Make your own!

Add some ethnic food. Barbie’s pizza and apple pie need to be spiced up to reflect the American melting pot. Foster diversity and make your own Barbie foods from play dough or craft supplies like popsicle sticks and markers. “Cook” Mexican tacos, Italian fettuccine or Chinese rice.

Teach your child how to prepare a meal using Barbie as a medium. Use play dough to create her favorite dish, set Barbie’s table and consider how much it costs to buy ingredients. Have Ken in the kitchen to help Barbie and challenge women’s role as the cooking housewife.

New Look

Get out the scissors, markers, food coloring and hair clips. It’s time Barbie got a new ‘do. Let your child cut, style and color Barbie’s hair to reflect her own. If your child has red hair in an A-line cut, let her give it to Barbie. Or if you are feeling silly, just let it fly: buzz Barbie’s head or streak her hair blue to defy typical beauty.

Barbie’s clothes look expensive. Make your own from quilt scraps or felt with a needle and thread, scissors, glitter, etc. Make her a space suit for a new occupation or create environmentally friendly clothes by remodeling Barbie’s current wardrobe. Sometimes Barbie’s outfits are a little skimpy. Make them more modest by adding lace to a short skirt or a felt tube-top to that see-through blouse. Help your children realize wearing skimpy outfits doesn’t correlate to personal value.

Many online games are geared toward boys, such as dress up games. It is an online game that your sons can mix and match outfits, finding what they like best for a given model.

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