“Media literacy is more important than ever, so I adamantly hope [the Paley Center's] great work will continue and expand.”

- Martina Madden, Stuyvesant HS, teacher
Greetings from The Paley Center for Media’s Education Department!
Welcome to the latest installment of “What We’re Watching,” a weekly Paley Education@Home guide. During this unprecedented time, we thought we would reach out to our community with some tips and ideas for consuming media with your kids! It’s inevitable that screen time is going to increase in the coming months and so we’re here to help! Each week we are highlighting a different theme that connects to two selected programs, one for younger kids and one for older students, each with related activities.

Consuming media with your kids is a perfect jumping-off point to making media literacy a part of your everyday lives. Familiarizing yourself with the basics is a great first step. In case you missed it, you can view our first edition about media literacy best practices. We also recommend the National Association for Media Literacy Education’s Parents Guide—it’s a terrific introduction!
Weekly Zoom Meet-ups
Thursdays, 3:00 to 3:30 pm ET
You can join us at our weekly Zoom Meet-up, Thursdays from 3:00 to 3:30 pm ET, to chat about the episodes we are watching this week or whatever else is on your mind regarding media literacy and at-home learning.

For connection details, please RSVP to eduny@paleycenter.org.
What We're Watching
Each year in April, New York City sidewalks become dotted with pink cherry blossom petals that explode on the trees and then fall like snow onto the street, creating a beautiful ephemeral landscape. Many New Yorkers travel to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden at the height of blooming for the annual sakura matsuri festival. As a way to celebrate the cherry blossom festival inside, this week we are focusing on Japan and samurai culture (a small shout-out to ramen as well). Here’s what we’re watching to stay entertained and be creative with kids while we continue to be home.
This Week's Recommendation for Younger Kids: Backyardigans
Backyardigans: “Samurai Pie” Episode 22 (2006)
Recommended for Grades K+. Watch on YouTube

In this Nick Jr. show, five colorful animal friends with big imaginations (Pablo, Tyrone, Uniqua, Tasha, and Austin) team up, singing and dancing as they journey to fantastical places in their backyard. In this episode, Samurai Pie Maker Tyrone must train his apprentice Austin to make the Great Pie for Empress Tasha, while fending off a raid from pie-stealing Ninjas Uniqua and Pablo. Pie-ya!
Pre-Viewing Questions
  • What does Tyrone become in this episode?
  • What song does he sing in the beginning of the episode?
  • Who becomes his apprentice and what must Tyrone train him to do?
  • What kind of pie do they plan to make for the Empress?
  • Who tries to steal the pie and what kind of obstacles do they face on their quest?

Extension Activities
Bake a pie with a parent or older brother or sister!
How to make an apple pie – Try this easy recipe on Youtube.

Simple Origami Instructions
Ninja star (slightly harder)

Extra Resources
Recommended picture books and beginner’s manga:
The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home, 1 by Konami Konata
Cowa! by Akira Toriyama
The Funny Little Woman by Arlene Mosel
Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade
Tanuki’s Gift: A Japanese Tale by Tim Myers
This Week's Recommendation for Older Students: Samurai Jack
Samurai Jack: Season 1, Episodes 1-3 (2001)
Recommended for Grades 6+

Outside of the Studio Ghibli cannon, Samurai Jack is among the most visually stunning cartoons ever made. Although specific episodes among the series stand out (e.g. "Three Blind Archers," "Samurai v. Ninja," and season five’s "XCIV"), starting at the beginning with the first three episodes makes the most sense if you are a first-time viewer of the show. These three episodes give the viewer Jack’s origin story, excellent samurai training montages, and the backstory of the notorious villain Aku. All five seasons are streaming on the Adult Swim app for free so if you like what you see, you are in luck. Please note that season five, created thirteen years after season four ended, is targeted toward older viewers.

If you like history, then some background on samurai culture could be fun to read, ahead of viewing.

Bushido, the way of the warrior, is a Japanese term for the many codes of honor and ideals that dictated the samurai way of life. The bushidō code is typified by eight virtues—righteousness, heroic courage, compassion, respect, honesty, honor, duty and loyalty, and self-control—envisioned by Nitobe Inazo who wrote Bushido: The Soul of Japan in 1900. If you are serious about film and samurai culture then we encourage you to watch an Akira Kurosawa film. The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Ran, or Kagemusha would be great places to start! Otherwise, we hope you enjoy Samurai Jack as much as we do.

Discussion Questions
  • Describe Jack. What is his backstory? What kind of person is he? How does he embody the bushido code?
  • Describe Aku. What is he like? What special qualities does he possess? What is his main purpose in life? What special powers does he possess?
  • What characters do you recognize from other story narratives or cartoons? How are they reimagined in this universe?
  • How does Jack adapt to the unfamiliar surroundings of the future once he arrives there?
  • Long scenes without dialogue are a signature of the series. How are sound effects and music used to focus your attention on different visual elements during these scenes?
  • How would you describe the visual style of the cartoon?
  • How do you think we are supposed to feel about Jack at the end of episode three?

Extra Resources
Read a classic martial arts book, The Book of Five Rings by Miayamoto Musashi

Manga featuring ramen
Oishinbo a la Carte: Ramen and Gyoza Story by Tetsu Kariya; Art by Akira Hanasaki
Naruto Volume 1, written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto

Film and television featuring ramen
Tampopo , directed by Juzo Itami (1985) Watch the “Ramen Master” scene
Worth it : S3 E8 “$7 Ramen vs. $79 Ramen” (Available on Hulu)
Mind of Chef : S1 E1 “Noodle” (Available on Netflix)
Paley Online Classes
Explore these rich, full online classes, with complete thematic descriptions, clips from the Paley Archive, pre- and post-viewing questions, associated vocabulary, further online resources, and more.

As always, if you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at eduny@paleycenter.org.

Happy viewing,
Rebekah Fisk, Director of Education
Caroline Quigley, Senior Manager of School & Family Programs

Support the Paley Center
We hope this inspires you to watch and learn together in a new way at home! The Paley Center is here for you and, now more than ever before, we would deeply appreciate your support.
THE PALEY CENTER FOR MEDIA