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L.A. Popcorn Adventure #119
January 14, 2009

Bringing The Inauguration Home

Inauguration 2009 + National Day of Service

Whether you were hoping that Sarah Palin would be the first female Vice President, Hilary Clinton would be the first female President or that Barack Obama would be the first African American President, history has been made.  Watching the 2009 Inauguration unfold presents a natural opportunity for a homespun civics lesson, as well as a discussion of the significant social change that Obama's election heralds. In discussing how our government works, parents can span the historical perspective (see our notes about the requirements for the Oath of Office in the Constitution) to the global (pointing out the organized, peaceful transition of our government) to the exciting modern spin that this election has taken (see our notes about how the Obama team uses the Internet). We have also brainstormed questions to get our kids thinking about the new administration through the eyes of America's new first children, Malia (10, 5th grade) and Sasha (7, 2nd grade)  Older kids will like the We Are One concert on Sunday night, with music and speeches from popular entertainers, and we're all going to catch live coverage of the Swearing in ceremony with our kids before they leave for school on Tuesday. Now, if only the Obamas would find time to adopt that promised puppy so he could join in the Inauguration festivities!

Malia and Sasha will have their hands full adjusting to life in the public eye, and to kick off their new lives a day early, the girls are joining their parents on Monday to participate in a National Day of Service to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, whose birthday is celebrated on Monday, January 19, a day before the Inauguration.  Michelle and Barack Obama have challenged all Americans to get busy celebrating King's dream of social justice and non-violence by participating in a community service project. We are spending the holiday doing our traditional activities (sleeping late and going to a movie!), but we plan to devote a few hours with our kids by joining in the national challenge.  It was simple to find an interesting project -- we just scrolled through a list from a local Obama chapter (see link below) that included activities that would take just a few minutes (like dropping off blankets) to those that would take all day (like helping out in a senior center).  Our daughters want to volunteer at a food pantry, and our younger boys plan to pick up trash at the beach.  We'll do it all, hoping that we instill values that our country so desperately needs. 

Film Title: The Inauguration of Barack Obama
Directed By: Various Channels, Computer Live Feed
2009, Rated G, Varies

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about Watching the Inauguration:

  • Televised Coverage of the Entire Inauguration: The Inauguration takes place at 12:00 Noon in Washington, D.C. (9:00 AM on the Westcoast!). Most major networks will start their coverage at 11:30. Click here for a schedule of the official weekend of events, leading up to and including the Swearing In and Parade.
  • Streaming On-line Coverage:  Major news sites will stream live coverage of the inauguration and parade - CNN, MSNBC, C-SPAN and The New York Times, among others.
  • Listening to the WE ARE ONE Concert on the Mall: You can witness Sunday's concert on the mall when HBO opens a live feed for everyone (subscribers or not) from 7:00-9:00PM ET/PT Sunday night. Tune in for everyone from Beyonce to Springstein.
  • Nickelodeon Coverage for Elementary Schoolers: Nick will interupt regular programming throughout the day to offer childrens' perspective on the historical event.
  • Alternative Ideas:  Time Magazine photographer Callie Shell has covered Obama and his family since 2006 - we love her new book, and your kids can look through some of the pictures here, as well as listen to a story about her, on the NPR website. Concert Coverage, Radio coverage, etc.

Having two new First Daughters and a First Puppy makes it easy to open up discussion with our kids: 

  • Questions from Malia and Sasha's Perspective:  Ask your youngest children (1) what they would name their new puppy and what it would be like to take it for a walk with security (2)  how they would feel about leaving all their friends behind in Chicago and how they would stay in touch with them.  Ask your 3rd-6th graders (1) whether Melia and Sasha would be able to have sleep-overs, birthday parties and play on sports teams just like other American kids (3) whether Melia and Sasha would have to be careful about what they said in school and whether they would have to be more careful than other kids to do all their homework, be on time and not whisper and giggle in class. Ask your teens and tweens (1) whether they think Melia and Sasha will be able to have Facebook accounts, cell phones, video-chat computers, and email addresses; (2) whether the girls will need to censor what they say in classes, for example, about various political issues to be in line with their father's agenda (3) whether the girls, as they grow up, will be able to hang out at friend's homes, malls, go on dates or to parties.
  • Oath of Office: The Oath of Office is actually part of the Constitution, and in it the President swears to uphold that defining document. Click here to hear or read NPR's excellent story about the development of this key element of our democracy.
  • A Peaceful Transition: We take it for granted, but kids are intrigued to learn that not all countries have elections, and that for many countries, transitioning from one government to another can be a bloody, violent time. Parents can discuss the human rights violations that often come with elections in other countries, or explain that a coup d'etat takes place when an electoral democracy doesn't exist... and one party overthrows another.
  • Obama and the Internet: Our new President is resisting giving up his precious Blackberry, and who can blame him? Organizing voters on-line turned out to be a critical part of his campaign (click here to read more) and watching how he uses technology to stay in touch with his country will be a fascinating part of the new administration. Younger voters turned out in droves to support Obama; does that mean they'll stay involved with the political process? The National Day of Service has been organized online helping citizens find ways to give back to their community. 
  • The Youth Vote Rocks:  Click here to listen to a wonderful podcast about how Hip Hop influenced the youth of this country to vote in record numbers.  Over 22 million young voters turned out (the second highest in American history), partially because musicians made the message of civic engagement (registering to vote, and showing up at the polls) fashionable.


National Day of Service

Click here for Michelle Obama's call to action on You Tube

Click here for opportunities near you (zip code required)

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom for Finding a Family Service Project in Your Area:

  • Michelle Obama's Call to Action on YouTube: Click here for a short You Tube video, describing the kick-off of National Service Day on Martin Luther King Day, January 19th. If you want to record your own video, and tell the campaign what you are doing to help others on Martin Luther King Day - you can enter a contest for the First Lady to call you!
  • 30Barak Website with local activities: One group of Obama supporters, here in LA, has put together a series of events for the MLK weekend. Click here for details.
  • How To Find Additional Activities in Your Zip Code: Click here  to connect you to activities in your area.  All you need to do is enter your zipcode for a round-up of volunteer opportunities near your home.
  • What We are Doing with our Kids: Our goal is for service projects to become a regular part of life, so on MLK Day we'll do something we have done before (clean up the beach at a Nothing But Sand clean up at Will Rogers/Temescal starting at 10:00 am on Saturday, January 17). he kids know what to expect, so invite some friends along and we all have a good experience.

Our Tips for Extending this Adventure:

  • California African American Museum: Click here for information about festivities on MLK Day.
  • Kidspace Day: Kidspace Museum in Pasadena has a Day of Tolerance, with hands-on activities, to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday.
  • History of the Inauguration: Click here for a concise photo-filled website from the U.S. Senate on the history of the Inauguration.

Want more? Here are KOTC's picks of films, books, music, and websites that connect your family to more culture.

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