Ten Media-Arts Activities for Teen Girls
Coronavirus Creativity Guide, How-tos

Ten Media-Arts Activities for Teen Girls

Ten Media-Arts Activities for Teen Girls

90% of the world’s schools are closed in efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Social distancing and isolation are very difficult for teens. As Janine Defao writes in Bay Area Parent, “During adolescence, it’s their developmental job to individuate from us. They’re trying to grow their autonomy and sense of freedom. Being trapped at home with their parents makes them feel infantilized.”

Simple and Fun Arts Activities 

At Girls’ Voices Matter, we created a list of 10 media-arts activities to help teen girls use this enforced at-home time creatively.

  1. Start a visual diary: every day, take a photo and write a few sentences about the photo.
  • Bonus idea: print the photographs and paste them into a journal. Date each entry and write about your day.
  1. Film interviews where you ask family members about their childhoods. Add still shots of photographs and narration.
  2. Movie reviews: watch several movies by the same director. Write short reviews about the movies.
  • Bonus idea: film yourself reading your review. Add sound effects and special effects using film-editing software such as iMovie or Adobe Premiere Pro.
  1. Make a quarantine time capsule. Add photographs, notes, and newspaper articles. Write a date several years into the future and don’t open it until then. You could also make lists of how the family spent its time during the coronavirus.
  2. Try out some of the video games we evaluated starring strong girls and women.
  3. Make a cooking video: film yourself putting together your favorite recipe. At the end, film yourself and family members enjoying the food you made.
  4. Make a poetry video: take photos or video and add your own words to create a short video.
  5. Take a virtual tour of a museum. The British Museum, The Guggenheim, and The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC have all put collections online during the pandemic. Here’s a list of twelve museums with online collections.
  6. Sign up for Ted Talks for Teens, which offers a large variety of educational videos, including the arts, health and literature.
  7. If you have a dog or a cat, make a “talking pet” video. Here’s a how-to with some sample videos.

We love your suggestions!

If you’d like to suggest a media-arts activity, please add it in the comments below.

Online Courses

Girls’ Voices Matters offers 4 Online Courses for Teen Girls: Digital Storytelling, Feminist Media, Flash Memoir, and Gaming for Girls.




Empowering Girls, Our mission

The Power of Teen Girls

The Power of Teen Girls

Malala Yousafzai survived a 2012 school bus attack and went on to become the youngest person to receive a Nobel Peace Prize.

Greta Thunberg skipped school to increase awareness about global warming. She was honored as Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year.

Emma Gonzalez survived the shooting in Parkland, Florida. Due to pressure from Emma and her fellow students, Florida passed a bill titled the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.

These are just three of the more well-known teen activists who’ve gone beyond the call of duty to make our world a better place. But have you heard of Angelina Lue, Zee Thomas, or Tiana Day?

Angelina, Zee, and Tiana

Angelina, of Los Altos, CA, started Teens Fighting Covid-19, a GoFundMe campaign designed to help address the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). As of this writing, her campaign has donated 25,000 surgical masks and 200 N95’s to more than seventeen hospitals and health care centers in the Bay Area, NYC, the Bronx, and the Navajo Nation.

Zee Thomas, a 15-year-old from Nashville, organized a march in her city to protest the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Zee had never been to a protest before, but 10,000 people joined her.

Tiana Day of San Ramon, CA, led a protest march across the Golden Gate Bridge earlier in June. She thought maybe fifty people would show up. Thousands came. In an article in the New York Times, Tiana said, “I have always had this, like, boiling thing, this boiling passion in my body to want to make a change in the world.”

In the same article, the reporter, Jessica Bennett, posed a question to another teen, Shayla Turner. “Why do you think we are seeing so many young women leading?”

Shayla, who has been campaigning to remove the police from Chicago’s public schools, answered:

“I want to see an entire revolution led by youth. We have the power, and we have the voices.”

A Few More

There are so many examples of the power of teen girls to affect positive change in the world. A few more:

Trisha Prabhu, who, at 15, created ReThink, a patented technology and an effective way to detect and stop online hate.”

Jamie Margolin, who, “frustrated by the fact that youth voices were almost always ignored in the conversation around climate change and the profound impact that it would have on young people,” started Zero Hour, a national day of mass action, led by youth.

At the end of the New York Times article, Zee stated: “my main goal, as a person and as an upcoming activist, is to make sure that people know that things will change. Eventually.”

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.

Online courses for teen girls
Announcements, Coronavirus Creativity Guide

Online Courses for Teen Girls

Girl running up stairs

Online Courses for Teen Girls

We’ve designed our online courses to help teen girls explore their creativity and engage in activities that are fun, challenging, and will teach them lifelong skills.

Courses run every day from July 20-24,10:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. View the complete schedule here.

Suggested Courses Based on Your Daughter’s Interests

Is your daughter interested in learning more about popular culture’s use of media to promote unrealistic portrayals of women? Feminist Media: Critique and Analysis will help her understand media through a feminist lens. From literature to anime, she will learn to think critically about the media she consumes.

Does she want to create her own short videos? Digital Storytelling: Image and Voice introduces students to the principles of filmmaking. Using images, text and voice, students create their own short, personal videos.

If your daughter enjoys writing about her life, sign up for Flash Memoir: Writing From the Heart. She’ll  refine that writing into short, intense personal stories.

Gaming For Girls: Creativity and Critique is perfect for the girl who wants to know more about rich history of women in video game history. She’ll also learn how to program her own game using Scratch. 

If your daughter wants to take all four courses, we offer a 15% discount.

Course Details and Security

All four courses run five days, one hour per day. View the complete schedule here. We will use Zoom as our platform, with passwords and a waiting room for security. Only registered students will be allowed into the waiting room.

Other Resources

Girls’ Voices Matter is pleased to offer two free programs!

Contact us!

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.

how fathers can help their daughters succeed
Empowering Girls

How Fathers Can Help Their Daughters Succeed

father reading to daughter

How Fathers Can Help Their Daughters Succeed

In a 2016 article for Glamour, President Obama wrote about his commitment to being the kind of father who set the bar high for the other men his daughters would encounter as they became adults.

The ways fathers can help their daughters succeed, he wrote, include:

  • Taking on the responsibility of fighting sexism
  • Being aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society
  • Speaking up when you see a gender double standard
  • Modeling an equal relationship with your partner
  • Working to change the culture that limits the prospects of women and girls

The relationship a girl has with her father is extremely important to how well she succeeds in later life. Fathers set the tone for their daughters’ expectations of men. A father who shows his daughter how a man should behave increases the chance that she will demand equal treatment in her adult relationships.

Fathers’ Special Role in Their Daughters’ Lives

As Obama wrote about his two daughters, “It’s important that their dad is a feminist, because now that’s what they expect of all men.”

Fathers can help their daughters succeed by encouraging them, believing in them, and having frank discussions about sexism. As Jessica Stillman wrote in “5 Ways Fathers Can Raise Strong, Successful Daughters:”

“In a world where women’s voices are frequently undervalued or even silenced, the simple act of discussing important topics openly and respectfully with your daughter can teach her a valuable lesson — you are entitled to speak your mind and your opinion is as valid and valued as any other.”

June 21 is Father’s Day

This Sunday, June 21, 2020, marks the 110th anniversary of Father’s Day. The man who inspired Father’s Day, William Jackson Smart, was the twice-widowed father of fourteen children. His daughter, Sonora Smart Dodd, commented that “He was both father and mother to me and my brothers and sisters.” A single father at the age of 56, his youngest child only 7 or 8 at the time, Smart “exemplified fatherly love and protection.”

To the over 70 million fathers in the United States, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day this Sunday. To the fathers of girls, remember how important you are to helping your daughters succeed. May we continue to move toward, in Obama’s words, a country “where every single child can make of her life what she will.”

See also: Why Teen Girls Lose Confidence: What Parents Can Do and Ten Ways to Help Girls in 2020

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.

Ten Coming-of-Age Games Starring Strong Girls and Women
Empowering Girls, Women in Animation

Coming-of-Age Video Games Starring Strong Girls and Women

By Claire Graman

Coming-of-age stories capture what is perhaps the most difficult part of life, the hard transition from childhood to adulthood. In this genre, hero(ine)s discover their identity, test relationships, and navigate an often cruel and nonsensical world. Video games make this journey more immediate, as you guide your protagonist on their quest.

In these coming-of-age video games starring strong girls and women, players are active heroines, shaping their destinies on epic adventures.

Horizon zero dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn

This action adventure game takes place in a distant future where humans live in tribal societies while robotic beasts roam the land. You play as Aloy, a young woman raised as an outcast, as she uncovers her mysterious past, hunts robots, and saves the world. Available for PlayStation 4 and Windows. Common Sense Media rates this 13+.

Life is strange

Life is Strange

In this narrative-driven game, you play as Max, a high school girl in a coastal Oregon town who finds she has the power to control time. Max is a fully developed character with relationships, a past, and hobbies. An added bonus is the central theme of female friendship. Available for PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 260 and One, and Windows. Common Sense Media rates this 16+.


Child of light

Child of Light

In this fairy tale role-playing game, the princess takes up a sword and controls her own destiny after being transported to a fantastical world. With unique characters, a watercolor world, and an outstanding soundtrack by Béatrice Martin, this game will leave lasting impression. Available for Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and One, and Windows. Common Sense Media rates this 10+.




In this widely-acclaimed game, you play as a young woman climbing a mountain. This simple premise provides a powerful parallel for the heroine’s own battle with depression and anxiety. Available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows. Common Sense Media rates this 10+.


Gone Home

Gone Home

This ground-breaking narrative game has simple controls, but complex themes, as it explores teen identity and sexuality. Available for Linux, Mac, and Windows. Common Sense Media rates this 15+.


Falcon age

Falcon Age

In this virtual reality game, you play as a young woman fighting a colonial power with the help of her falcon. With themes of cultural identity, freedom, and friendship, this game is a hidden gem. Available PlayStation 4 and Virtual Reality. Common Sense Media rates this 13+.




Named after the children’s game, Oxenfree follows a group of teenagers on one last camping trip before college. Unfortunately, they are coping with the recent death of a friend. Even more unfortunately, the abandoned island they’re camping on seems to be very haunted. Available for Mac, Windows, and Xbox One. Common Sense Media rates this 14+.


What remains of Edith Finch

What Remains of Edith Finch

In this interactive story inspired by magical realism, you play as the titular Edith Finch, a young woman exploring the history of a family curse and how it impacts her own life. Available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows. Common Sense Media rates this 13+.




In this fighting, fantasy game, you play as Ajna, a teenage girl trying to avenge the death of her father. With charming animation and a story steeped in Southeast Asian culture and mythology, Indivisible showcases what indie games can offer. Available for Linux, Mac, Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Common Sense Media rates this 13+.


Broken age

Broken Age

Broken Age tells the stories of two teenagers “seeking to break the tradition in their lives.” Vella is a young woman fated to be sacrificed to a monster, while Shay is a young man adrift on a mysterious spaceship. With a clever story, top voice-acting talent, and engaging puzzles, Broken Age is well worth exploring. Available for Linux, Mac, and Windows. Common Sense Media rates this 13+.


Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.


woman-made films
Empowering Girls, Women in Film & TV

Woman-Made Films About Mental Health

listen when girls talkMay is Mental Health Awareness Month

To increase awareness of the fact that, according to NAMI, one in five teens experiences some form of mental illness, I’ve put together a list of female-directed, co-directed, written or co-written films that deal with mental illness, whether as the central theme or in relation to the plot.

Each one of these woman-made films about mental health presents an opportunity for parents and their teen daughters to discuss the impact of mental illness on families and communities. For example, in Infinitely Polar Bear, a father with bipolar disorder becomes the main caregiver for his daughters while his wife moves away to study for her MBA. This causes the family to negotiate both the absence of the mother and the father’s illness. In Sweetie, the mental illness of one sister dominates the family. In Horse Girl, a young woman’s life turns upside down as her psychosis deepens and as a result, her behavior becomes more and more inexplicable.

The way in which media portrays women and girls is crucial to their mental and emotional health. “The specific mental health consequences of extended exposure to portrayals of unrealistic and unhealthy behaviors of girls and women may not be clear, but some advocates see enough data to cause concern and to take action” Psychiatric News, 12/2010.

Woman-made films

It’s important to watch women-made films about this topic. The way in which mental illness has been defined, and therefore depicted in films, has traditionally been through the male perspective. Women-made films promote a new understanding of how we recognize, understand and treat mental illness.


  • Sweetie, 1989, dir. Jane Campion, rated R
  • An Angel at My Table, 1990, dir. Jane Campion, rated R
  • Eve’s Bayou, 1997, dir. Kasi Lemmons, rated R
  • The Virgin Suicides, 1999, dir. Sofia Coppola, rated R
  • 28 Days, 2000, Betty Thomas, rated PG-13
  • Little Miss Sunshine, 2006, co-dir. Valerie Faris, rated R
  • Lars & the Real Girl, 2007, screenplay by Nancy Oliver, rated PG-13
  • Frozen 1 & 2, 2013 & 2019, co-dir. Jennifer Lee, rated PG
  • Infinitely Polar Bear, 2014, dir. Maya Forbes, rated R
  • Welcome to Me, 2014, dir. Shira Piven, rated R
  • Horse Girl, 2020, screenplay by Jeff Baena and Alison Brie, rated R


Many more films about mental illness exist than the ones listed here, and more than a few of those feature women and girls. Such a lack of female directors exists that it took some time to compile the list for this blog post!

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.


women filmmakers of the pacific northwest
Announcements, Coronavirus Creativity Guide, Girls' Voices Matters Videos, Women in Film & TV

Women Filmmakers of the Pacific Northwest

We started planning for Women’s History Month 2020 in September 2019: researching our presentation, “Women Filmmakers of the Pacific Northwest,” grant-writing, marketing, contacting schools, libraries and public places, and rehearsing. By February we had our schedule set up to show WFPNW at nine locations in and around Lane County.

We made it to five. In mid-March, the coronavirus triggered a statewide shutdown. For the sake of public safety, we cancelled our remaining dates.

Since then, we’ve been working on an online version, and I’m happy to announce that “Women Filmmakers of the Pacific Northwest” is now available for viewing. Big thanks go to Claire Graman, who researched, created and narrated the presentation.

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.

Announcements, FAQs, Our mission

Blog Feature at Miss Independent!


It’s an honor to be the blog feature at  Miss Independent! Read about the origins of Girls’ Voices Matter, why the program is just for girls, and how we can address the lack of women all aspects of film, from directing to acting to cinematography.

Much more at Miss Independent

While you’re there, read about the many inspirational women profiled at the site. I especially enjoyed this poignant account of the author’s visit to The House of Anne Frank in Amsterdam. 

Thank you to Bridget Gorham, aka Miss Independent, for featuring Girls’ Voices Matter.

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.

the corona virus outbreak
Announcements, Coronavirus Creativity Guide, FAQs

The Corona Virus Outbreak: Here’s What We’re Doing

We are happy to announce our first online class, Digital Photography 101! This is a FREE beginning-intermediate, 5-lesson video class.

Because of the corona virus outbreak, we’re bringing quality online content to our community.

Keeping safe

UPDATE: Our online courses are now available! You can view them and sign up here.

Keeping busy

We’ve compiled a list of online photography and video resources for students and parents (see below).

At our Instagram page, we’re sharing a creative idea for video and photography every Wednesday, and on Fridays, we’ve started “Did You Know,” a series of interesting and little-known facts about women in film.

At Facebook, we share inspiring stories about the accomplishments of women and girls.

The online version of our presentation, “Women Filmmakers of the Pacific Northwest,” is available for viewing.

We hope to have a YouTube channel up soon with video instruction.

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.

why girls lose confidence
Empowering Girls

Why Teen Girls Lose Confidence: What Parents Can Do

My story of losing confidence

When I was ten years old, I wanted to be a musician, a dancer, a mom, a poet, and an explorer. Only three years later, the bright future I’d imagined for myself seemed unattainable. By the age of thirteen, I’d become acutely aware of the limitations our culture places on women and girls. Even though my parents never told me I couldn’t do something because I was a girl, I felt the weight of the patriarchy pushing me down.

As a teenager and young woman, that weight seriously undermined my confidence. In my early teens, I still played music, wrote songs and poems, took dance lessons, and went on trips. As I got older, however, I absorbed society’s message that unless I was better than everyone else, especially boys, I might as well give up. My self-esteem took years to overcome.

What parents can do

The reasons why teen girls lose confidence in early adolescence is better understood today than when I was a teen. However, it still accounts for high rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and self-harming behavior. Today’s teen girls must cope with pressures unheard of during my adolescence. These include social media, texting, and never-ending images of Photo-shopped beauty.

I was encouraged when I read “Girls’ Confidence Plummets Starting at Age 8: Here’s How to Keep Her Confidence Strong” at one of my favorite websites, A Mighty Girl. Authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman have written The Confidence Code for Girls (HarperCollins, 2018), a book that “teaches girls to embrace risk, deal with failure, and be their most authentic selves” (quoted from the book’s description).

Here are some key points, which I’ve quoted from the article:


  • Risk-taking: “It’s impossible to build confidence staying in a comfort zone, only doing what you are already good at doing.”
  • A social media compromise: “Parents should insist that their daughters follow four women who are working in areas that interest them and then see where that takes them.”
  • For fathers: “We’ve learned that dads are better at accurately gauging their child’s confidence than moms are, regardless of gender.”
  • Be an imperfect role model: “Show your daughter what it means to screw up and then recover from it. If we are busy trying to be perfect, that is what our daughters will most notice, no matter how many books on confidence we hand her.”
  • Positive thinking: “Curbing rumination, catastrophizing and negative thinking is equally essential.”


The good news is that girls can and do recover from their adolescent confidence deficits. For example, once I accepted that I didn’t need to be perfect, I tried all kinds of things, from making my own videos to writing books to starting a business. I made huge mistakes, had amazing adventures, and succeeded—but not all, or even half of the time. I learned the most from my mistakes.

As the authors of The Confidence Code for Girls state, “Confidence hinges on action. And that process, which usually involves some struggle and failure as well, is what creates more confidence.”

What new thing will you try today?

Download 5 Ways Storytelling Empowers Teen Girls.