Join MUSE Mag’s Mnemosyne Derby Squad

MUSE Magazine can always be counted on to take a fresh look at whatever subject they take on each month. If you saw the September 2016 issue, you know that topic was “Thinking Different” and we were excited to feature an interview with two young people with autism both in the magazine and right here on this blog. Teenagers Milan and Gabriela are inspiration to all of us here at Cricket Media for their insight, positive thinking, and can-do attitudes.


This month, MUSE is taking on sports and all the gear that goes with them. From technological innovations to existing sports (check out “Lighting It Up” on page 9, a new take on the game of basketball or “Real Sports, Virtual Reality” on page 26, which—as you probably guessed from the title—looks at how VR will change the way we watch, train, and play games of all types) to discussing whether wearing a helmet makes you safer or more reckless (page 47) to examining the science behind the curving path of a traveling projectile (basketball, football, baseball, golf, and badminton players take note!), the Gear + Games issue is for every kid who loves sports or sports gear.


One of the articles we love this month is all about the up and coming sport of Roller Derby. Yes, you read that right, roller derby. Roller derby isn’t the same over-the-top theatrical entertainment you might remember. Instead, the sport is changing, growing, adapting, and has become a possible contender for the Olympic Games. Share the article below and then head over to to download a free team logo for the all new MUSE Magazine Derby Squad. And please help us give Aarti, Whatsi, and Cate, characters from our popular Parallel U comic, unique roller derby nicknames. Have your favorite MUSE reader think of funny, punny, and unusual names and send them to MUSE Contest, 70 East Lake Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60601 or via email to See page 46 for even more information and official rules.


Each month MUSE Magazine will continue to bring your quirky, spunky, one-of-a-kind 9 to 14-year-old the exact brainy, amusing, and unique content they crave. So don’t miss an issue. Be sure to subscribe to MUSE today.



Being a Good Sport May Take Some Medaling

Did you know race walking is an Olympic sport? Seriously, it is. After learning that I had to ask:  Do you train for that in a mall on Black Friday? Another interesting out-of-the limelight event is Steeplechase, which basically consists of a track with a giant puddle in the middle of it. Did you realize that was a thing? And when did trampoline move from the circus to the Olympics? Then there is the pentathlon…? I don’t even know where to start with that one. Oh, hi there. I guess you can tell that I’m brushing up on my knowledge of the Olympics in preparation for the Summer Games in Rio, kicking off on Friday, August 5th and continuing for 16 straight days until ending on Sunday, August 21st.


While the big events like swimming and gymnastics will get a lot of press coverage, learning more about some of these obscure sports would be quite fascinating to my family and would do a lot to foster interest in and knowledge of other cultures. I guess that’s why I love those “behind-the-scenes” videos of the athlete’s lives. Yeah, yeah, they can be contrived, but they do add a human element to the events and that can capture the more reluctant viewers. It’s rousing to watch the sacrifices the athletes endure to get to this level of competition. And the backstories and family drama that often gets played up in these pieces are as entertaining as reality TV shows.


As I recall from past Olympics, hidden in these short documentaries are great stories of inspiration and dedication, and they definitely do provide more reasons to root for Team USA in the popular summer events. But what I like to see is more human interest pieces that focus on either lesser-known sports or stories from athletes in countries outside of the USA.  For example, my daughter is now seriously rooting for equestrian Laura Graves after reading a bunch of stories online about how Laura and her horse “Diddy” grew up together, worked through some significant differences in how to train each other (which resulted in Graves getting thrown and breaking her back), and are now ranked tenth in individual dressage.


And think of the amazing cultural lessons our kids would get if our Lifetime Movie of the Week followed athletes from other countries for a season? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how an athlete in Japan fits six hours of training into an already full school day? Or learn how third-world and rural countries improvise training facilities and equipment, yet are still able to compete against athletes who have top-notch resources? These stories can inspire us and help us see the world around us through a different lens.


With that in mind, Faces is a great compliment to the Olympic season, since it focuses on how children around the world live, work, learn, and play. For example, combining your knowledge of China from Faces, while watching the athletes from China compete, will give you an entirely new level of appreciation for their creativity, dedication, and the passion they have for their sport. Want to test it out for yourself? Download the attached article “The Land of Runners” about the love Kenyans have for their favorite sport. Read it with your family before watching the running races and see if the article helps make the race feel more personal and the Olympic games more exciting than ever before.


Land of the Rummers - Cricket Media


Cricket Media Mama is training for the Olympics. She is going for the gold in the competitive sport of Yelling ‘Go Team USA!’ and hopes to achieve at least a silver in Snack Consumption Over 16 Days.

Little League and The Girls of Summer

See that picture above. Check out the girl in the second row. That’s me as the one and only girl on my Little League team back in the early 1980s. I loved playing baseball back then. That’s even my dad as the coach. I’m not saying I was good at it (I most definitely wasn’t) but the boys on my team didn’t care. Most of them weren’t good at it either. It didn’t matter. We were a team. We were in it together.


Here’s what I didn’t know about this picture until now. Just 5 or 6 years before this picture was taken, girls were not allowed to play Little League. It’s true. It wasn’t until the mid-1970s that Little League gave in to pressure and dropped its “no girls” rule. I discovered this amazing fact in an article which appeared in Cricket, our award-winning literary magazine for kids ages 9 and up, last summer. It’s about the struggle girls faced in being allowed to join Little League. It nice to know the names of the girls I have to thank for the privilege of playing baseball back then.


As your daughters and sons take the to field this spring, I invite you to share this article, The Girls of Summer, with them. This is a small piece of history that they can actually relate to as they get out in the fresh air and do what kids all across America have been doing for decades. Batter up!


Girls of Summer - Cricket MediaGirls of Summer -Cricket Media

Girls of Summer

For the Love of Sport: The 10 Commandments of Coaching

Children love to play! They are often happiest when they are moving. From the time they take their first steps, their love of walking, running, jumping, and dancing begins — and grows! As their love of movement grows, they soon discover the joy of group sports, of throwing, catching and kicking balls, and playing together on teams: soccer, basketball, baseball, football, volley ball, hockey, and lacrosse.


As parents, we want to foster that love of play and sports. One of the best ways is to allow them to see and feel the joy we experience when we are participating in sports and to share that enthusiasm with them. Our children look to us as not only their first teachers, but as their first coaches, as well.


As coaches for our children and for our community’s children, it is important for us to keep in mind that children are first attracted to the games they play because of the fun of it. That’s the key to every game, every practice — keep it fun. The more children enjoy a sport, the more they want to play it. The more they play it, the better they get. The better they get, the more fun it is!


We all want their games and sports to be safe and fair and fun, a place where fellowship, sportsmanship, good health, and self-confidence grow. In that kind of atmosphere, no matter the final score, everyone is a winner.


Here are a few tips for those of us lucky enough to serve children as parent-coaches:


  1. Treat each child as your own.
  2. Cheer for all players on all teams.
  3. Play every player every game.
  4. Allow players to play different positions.
  5. Praise good plays and sportsmanship.
  6. Offer tips for improvement in a positive, cheerful manner.
  7. Show respect for each player, umpire, parent, and fellow coach.
  8. Set a good example on and off the field.
  9. Keep it fun. Coach to teach, not just to win.
  10. Remember your own love of the game.  Share it.

And here’s poem about playing from my book “Score! 50 Poems to Motivate and Inspire”.


The Spirit of Play By Charles GhignaThe Spirit of Play

By Charles Ghigna


The final score is more than how

We win or lose with pride;

It’s how we play the game of life

With laughter on our side.



Charles Ghigna – Father Goose® lives in a tree house in the middle of Alabama. He is the author of more than 100 award-winning books for children and adults from Random House, Capstone, Orca, Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Abrams, Charlesbridge and other publishers. His poems appear in hundreds of magazines from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Cricket and Highlights. He is a former poetry editor of the English Journal and nationally syndicated feature writer for Tribune Media Services.

You Say Potato. I Say Racism.

You may not have known this, but it’s Native American Heritage month. Originally proposed at the turn of the century as a day to of recognition for the significant contributions of the first Americans, the effort grew into a month-long celebration of heritage, history, and what helped shape our nation.

I can’t imagine not supporting this endeavor, but at the same time, I live in the D.C. area, which is a hotbed of controversy around a certain NFL football team that will remain nameless, so I feel like a bit of a hypocrite.

Look, full disclosure: I am not a football fan (or a big sports person in general), evidenced by the fact that I am currently winning my fantasy football league simply because I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I also never paid much attention to the hullabaloo about the D.C team’s name. In theory, I supported changing it, but I didn’t put much thought into it because, well, it was sports.

However, as my kids grow up in this area, I find myself becoming more sensitive to this issue. I’m not going to get preachy on my thoughts on the team name, I promise. While I disagree with the name, I do believe in freedom of speech. I see both sides of the argument and am always wondering how to present it to my kids. Which brings me to what I want to ask in today’s blog: how do we raise kids in a world where these controversies exist without making them a bigger issue than the kids may see them as?

On the one hand, if I don’t say anything about a term that troubles me, and my kids hear that the term is racist, does my silence suggest acceptance, or even approval of it? On the other hand, what if I tell them that we can’t support the D.C. team because the name is racist, but the only context they know for this term is in relation to potatoes? Am I just introducing or exacerbating the situation to the next generation?

It’s a hard line to draw, and I’m not sure what the right answer is.

For the time being, honoring different cultures with celebrations such as Native American Heritage Month is a good way to bring different ethos to the forefront of our thoughts. Embrace them. Use them as chance to reflect upon the amazing contributions that have been made by all cultures and peoples of this country. These celebrations are an opportunity to teach sensitivity, awareness, and remind kids that kindness matters above everything else.

One such way to celebrate is to think about a different sport that Native Americans created: Lacrosse. Check out the article below which appeared in Dig a few years ago.

War’s Little Brother to the Rescue
By R. Anthony Kugler
You Say Potato Image 2

One of the oldest American ball games still played today is lacrosse. The name is French, but the game is Native American. As French fur traders moved westward in the 17th and 18th centuries, they found tribes throughout eastern Canada and the area that today is the United States playing a fast-paced game with a deerskin ball and long wooden sticks.

Different tribes preferred different stick styles, but all lacrosse sticks, then and now, have a small, curved net at one end. According to tradition, it was the curve of the net that gave the game its name, for it resembled the hook at the end of the staff (called in French la crosse) that was carried by a French bishop as a symbol of his religious authority.

Native Americans referred to the game in many different ways. The Creek, a powerful tribe in the southeastern United States, called lacrosse “little brother of war,” because they considered the exertion and violence that were part of the game to be ideal training for battle. It is also true that lacrosse games were sometimes used as an alternative to war in the settlement of disputes, so the Creek term is doubly appropriate.


Each tribe had its own rules and style of play. While most tribes gave each player one stick, the Choctaw, another southeastern tribe, gave him two, one for each hand. The number of players on each side, the length of the game, and the size of the field also varied. Some games involved hundreds of players on a field stretching for miles. In every game, however, the object was the same: to get the ball into the opponent’s goal without touching it with one’s hands. Almost everything else, however, was allowed, including kicking and punching.

Most teams took part in elaborate religious ceremonies before a game, in part to ask for divine help. The rituals, however, were about more than victory. Lacrosse games helped players see their lives in perspective. Everyone had to struggle; everyone had opponents; friends and allies were necessary for survival. These were the lessons of lacrosse, and they were expressed and emphasized in the pre-game rituals of chanting and dancing.

One of the most famous lacrosse games took place in 1763 at Fort Michilimackinac, a British outpost on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. The precise circumstances are unclear, but most historians believe that two tribes, the Ojibwa and the Sauk, were determined to expel the invaders. There were two problems, however: the fort’s high wooden walls and the firepower of the British guns. Somehow the tribes had to lure the British out of the fort and away from their weapons.

Suddenly, the answer seemed clear—a lacrosse game beneath the walls. The tribes knew that the game fascinated Europeans, and that many of the soldiers would be especially attracted by the prospect of betting on the outcome. Dozens of warriors, their weapons hidden, gathered at the fort. The game began, the British soldiers left their posts, and Fort Michilimackinac fell.

Cricket Media Mama has lately found herself watching football and yelling at the TV every time the tightback and quarterend on her fantasy team scores hits a homerun and scores a goal. Sports, sports, sports.

Bingo! Here’s the Clue to Gaining a Monopoly on Family Game Night, Risk-Free.

I am so excited to write about family game night. My family loves playing games. We play cards at dinner (and yes, we even bring them to restaurants when we eat out). We play verbal games in the car while we’re driving. We play I Spy while we’re waiting in line at the bank. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that we often do nature scavenger hunts and other outside games to encourage discovery and build curiosity. We even play games with the dog, like treat pinball, where we all go to different rooms with treats and call his name, and he runs around from person to person like a lunatic and we get points when he comes to us. Much amusement is had.

As old-fashioned as it may sound, we devote a monthly family game night to playing games together. One of our favorite games is Dixit, a fantastic French game that encourages using your imagination, creativity, and vocabulary to make up sentences or stories about really interesting art on cards. We also play traditional games such as Clue, Monopoly, Munchkin, and Uno. We have a first-name-basis relationship with the local game shop owner, and we have seen every episode of “Tabletop” online. We play Wii games, Xbox games, and computer games as a family as well.

I could give you an idealistic view of this and say this is all fantastic family bonding and that we all huddle around a roaring fire and look at each other adoringly as we roll the dice and laugh. In reality, it’s not always perfect. We’re all competitive. Things don’t always end well. We will get into fights over cheating, interpreting rules, or who sneakily ate the rest of the snacks. Often, someone ends up stomping away, raising their voice, or in tears. I won’t pretend it’s never me.

So why am I excited about talking about family game night? Why do I keep subjecting myself to this? Because no matter how much we trash talk while we’re playing, no matter who started it and whose fault it was, and no matter who shoved all the M&Ms in her mouth when no one was looking (sorry, that was me), we come back each and every family game night to play again.

With the advent of phone games, we’ve extended our family game bonding to play together even when we’re not together. And it’s reassuring that after a stressful morning of rushing around, snapping at each other, and leaving in a general huff, I always love to hear the little chime from Words With Friends, Trivia Crack, or Draw Something notifying me that one of my kids took their turn. I know this is another way of them saying, “I still love you. Let’s play!”

Want to add some family game night excitement to your family’s routine? Check out the puzzles and games section of our webstore and pick up a great new game to get the ball rolling. You can also check out this great Pinterest board for more ideas.

Cricket Media Mama would like to apologize for upending the table and refusing to cook dinner for a month. You’re not grounded anymore. She knows you didn’t really cheat. All is forgiven. See you next month at family game night.

Plaaaay Ball!

I’m a born and raised New Yorker and I grew up chanting “Let go Mets!” at ballgames at the now defunct Shea Stadium. So even though I’m not a huge fan of baseball in general, I have to admit to being pretty excited to see “my team” making it to the World Series. Judging from the number of Mets related posts clogging up my Facebook feed, my other NY friends are pretty excited as well.

However, about half of my colleagues here at Cricket Media work in Chicago and there was a definite sense of “awwww” from them when the Cubs hit the skids and bounced themselves out of contention. I don’t want to rub it in (OK, maybe I do want to rub it in just a little) but I did want to celebrate the annual sporting event that takes place every October and brings joy and heartbreak to so many. I also wanted to touch on something a bit discouraging that seems to be happening to sports in general.

The Trouble with Elite Teams

There have been a slew of articles like this one from the Wall Street Journal about how the number of kids in the US who play baseball has been slipping over the past few decades. Experts have blamed the decline on a combination of factors but many people have pointed to a culture that values excellence at younger and younger ages, resulting in a push to get kids onto elite travel teams, which causes them to leave their local leagues behind.

I see this happening in my local community. Parents naturally want the best for their kids and families are often struggling with the demands of the many activities kids want to try. This combination has often resulted in a parental mindset that values our kids’ excellence and mastery of a subject over their ability to just try it out and see if they like it. I fear that I am guilty of this myself. As soon as my daughter shows an interest in something, the thought process leads to “well, let’s see how far she can go,” not “try it kid, let’s see if you like it.”

If You Had Fun, You Won

The result of this type of thinking in baseball is that the average young player who just wants to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine and the joy that comes with throwing and hitting and pitching with other kids his or her own age is having a hard time finding other like-minded kids to play with. Anyone who already plays well is on a travel team, anyone who is still learning to enjoy the sport might be already discouraged from playing because so many kids are already so much better at it than he is, or she may have parents who are steering her toward an activity that she might be better suited to in the long run.

But wouldn’t it be nice to leave all that behind and allow our kids to forget about being excellent in the long term and allow them to just try something for the love of it? They don’t have to be good at it. They just have to want to play. It’s the (as my husband always says), “If you had fun, you won” mentality. As we take some time to watch the Mets win the World Series (LOL), I hope you will also consider encouraging your kids to get outside and have the experience of playing some ball of their own. There is really nothing like the feeling of being on a team, and whether the team has winning season or not, your child will still be part of something great.

Games to Conquer the “I’m Bored” Monster

Around this time each summer, the joys of no school start to fade into the cries of “I’m bored.” I’m not sure there is another phrase emerging from my child’s mouth that annoys me more than the ubiquitous “I’m bored.” I always try to tell her to think before using it because it is inevitably going to lead to suggestions to clean up her room or practice for her music lesson. This is obviously a personal choice, but I try not to give her too many suggestions for how to alieve her boredom. I want her to come up with some ways to fill her days based on her interests, imagination, and the toys currently strewn across the playroom floor.


However, I do like the idea of introducing my daughter and her friends to a whole new crop of games, and I don’t mean the electronic kind. Remember tag? Hide and seek? Spud? I don’t really see that many kids playing those types of games these days and it makes me kind of sad. Websites like Kidspot have a nice list of outdoor games, but if you’ve ever tried to make suggestions to your child for things to do, you’ve probably also noticed that if the suggestion is not the exotic side, it tends to be discounted as “boring.”


Luckily I have a suggestion for bringing a little international flair to your child’s playtime. Check out the article below which appeared in Ladybug a few months ago to find some wonderful (and simple!) outdoor games for kids from places like Chile, South Africa, and Spain. If you have some other suggestions that have satisfied your child’s cries of “I’m bored!” please share them with us in the comments below. And for more great articles like these, be sure to subscribe to Ladybug.


Children’s Games Around the World

By Tori Telfer
Art by Felicia Hoshino



Sebastián and Diego are playing Cielo, Luna, Mar—or Sky, Moon, Sea—on their front steps. Sebastian draws a cloud on the top step and a moon on the next step. He lets Diego draw waves for the sea on the bottom step. Diego is great at drawing wiggly lines.


Sebastián calls, “Cielo!” and Diego jumps onto the Sky step. Perfect!


“Mar!” yells Sebastián.


Oops! Diego jumps onto the Moon step. Where was Diego supposed to jump?


South Africa



Tefo, Palesa, and Mosa gather pebbles to play Dithwai. First they memorize the colors and shapes of their pebbles. They are pretending that their pebbles are cows, which they must guard carefully in their pens. They must remember what their cows look like in case anyone steals them. Whoever has the most pebbles at the end wins!


Mosa found mostly pink pebbles, and thinks that this will make them easy to remember. While she closes her eyes, Tefo and Palesa each hide one of her pebbles in their own pebble pens.


“We capture your cows!” Palesa and Tefo yell. Mosa opens her eyes. She must find her pebbles to get them back.


“There’s one of my cows,” she says, taking her pink pebble from Palesa’s pile, “but where’s the other one?”





Carlos and his friends play tag in his front yard. Their game is called La Luna y las Estrellas de la Mañana, which means “the moon and the morning stars.”


Carlos stands under a big oak tree. He is the moon, and isn’t allowed to leave the tree’s shadow. His friends are the stars. They have to run in and out of the shadow without being tagged.


“I’m a shooting star!” yells his friend Célia. She races through the tree’s shadow. But Carlos is a speedy moon! He dashes to the very edge of the shadow, stretches out his arm, and tags her!


South Korea



It’s recess! The boys and girls from Mrs. Du’s class form two teams for a Flower Relay Race. Each child gets a paper flower with a long string tied to the stem. There are two small trees on the playground. The teams line up facing the trees.


“One, two, three—GO!” says Mrs. Du. The first two children race to their trees and tie their flowers to a branch. Then they run back as fast as they can to tag the next friend in line. When the game is finished, both trees will be covered with beautiful flowers.

Toddler + Ball = An Adorable Learning Opportunity

What’s cuter than a toddler with a ball? The answer: Not much. Watching little kids interact with this particular toy is one of my favorite things to do. I love the looks on their little faces when they mistakenly kick the ball again just before they reach it, and the joy in their eyes as they race across the field to reach wherever it landed.

When babies and toddlers play with balls, they learn concepts such as location, size, and speed. They develop physical skills like throwing, rolling, bouncing, and chasing. The also discover the joys of playing with other children, sharing, and taking turns. I doubt there are many other toys that can do all that. I guess that’s why balls are one of the top toys for kids of all ages.

A recent issue of Babybug contained the following rhyme:


Bouncing Ball


By Pamela Love

Art by Juana Martinez-Neal


When you drop a ball,
First it bounces big…
Then it bounces small,
And then it doesn’t bounce at all.



When babies and toddlers play with balls, they learn concepts such as location, size, and speed. They develop physical skills like throwing, rolling, bouncing, and chasing. The also discover the joys of playing with other children, sharing, and taking turns.


Try reading this rhyme with your toddler as you bounce a ball. Let your child try to catch the ball as it bounces and help them collect the ball when it rolls away. Check out this article from the What to Expect folks for more information about when your toddler is likely to learn to throw and catch on his or her own, but rest assured that whatever age your child is, getting out the ball and rolling, bouncing, throwing, or kicking it around is good for his or her hand-eye coordination, muscle strength, and reflexes and makes for an overall fun experience.