These Toys Teach Kids the Importance of SHEroes

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Boys play with G.I. Joes, girls play with Barbies. The stereotype is all too familiar, as toy companies market their products with traditional gender roles in mind. While such messaging can be damaging for both boys and girls, girls, in particular, often don’t get to see themselves in positions of power in their books or toys. Small business owner Shannen Zaturecky is hoping to change that with Kidspire Crate, a kids’ subscription box filled with materials that highlight women’s amazing achievements.

“Our goal is to level the playing field for our kids’ role models,” Zaturecky tells CircleAround. “Whether in books or on TV, the main characters are often boys. We want to teach all kids (not just girls) that girls can do cool things, too!”

Each monthly subscription box consists of a book featuring a SHEro, which, according to the Kidspire Crate website, is “a female main character who inspires others and makes the world a better place.” Two hands-on activities or experiments are also included that relate to the SHEro’s story. Kidspire Crates include a letter to parents or guardians with age-appropriate discussion questions on gender equality so families can participate in the activities and engage in conversations.

Race and gender bias can begin as early as preschool, so Zaturecky created different tiers of boxes: one for ages 3 to 6, and one for ages 6 to 9. There is also a box for siblings who are 3 to 9 years old, so brothers and sisters can enjoy the activities and learn together, too.

Only a few boxes have been released so far, but each one features a different theme. The Kidspire Crate space-themed box for younger children, for example, is dedicated to Katherine Johnson, a female mathematician of color who played an important role in the first NASA moon landing (her story became more widely known thanks to the movie Hidden Figures). Older children received materials related to Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color in outer space. Included in the boxes are activities such as completing space missions with moon dough and designing rocket ships. Kids are given information about the women featured and craft skills like quilling to create a solar system of planets and stars, and more. 

“One of the reasons we felt compelled to make an impact in our community is because, even in 2020, we still experience disadvantages as women in the workforce,” says Zaturecky. “My business partner and I have both been passed up for opportunities, interrupted, and unnecessarily patronized for ideas we've contributed and we don't want our boys to act that way or our girls to experience that.” 

Zaturecky hopes Kidspire Crates will help kids learn that women can be engineers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, and more. “Given the significant attention on discrimination, we knew others were looking for ways to close the gap for the next generation.”

The boxes have become an especially important tool for parents who are taking stricter measures to stay safe during COVID-19. The different components provide supplemental education for distance-learning curricula and to keep kids occupied indoors.

Zaturecky is planning on creating a book-only subscription, as demand for more stories has come through in recent months. She gets excited that children desire reading materials about these incredible females, and that kids are beginning to make connections to the women's stories in the boxes and real-life. 

“Truly the most exciting part of promoting gender equality through our work was when my own daughter pointed at a girl in a book and said, ‘engineer,’ ” Zaturecky recalls. “We had been given a copy of the book Rosie Revere Engineer, which is exactly the type of stories we feature in our boxes. It had the exact result we were hoping for.”

Tags: Activities for Kids, Education, Gender Equality

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Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

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