Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Superhero play

     Superhero play may seem boisterous and troublesome, but can actually be very useful!

It can quite often be the bain of many parents and practitioners existence..........the dreaded superhero play. Mostly seen in the imaginative play of boys, the play can become rough, loud and often very physical. But although this play can be like this, there are great benefits to this form of play for a child's development.

My daughter has a thing about Superman! When I was feeling ill a few months ago, there just so happened to be a Superman film marathon on television, so every day in one week, there was a Superman film to watch. She soon became quite taken with the character. I think it was the flying and the cape which won her over! Not to mention the fact that we used to pretend to fly her across the room by lifting her by her middle and running around the house when she was a baby!! She now loves having her blanket or scarves wrapped around her like a cape and shouts out "Superman!"

Pretending to be a superhero makes children feel powerful. Superheros are powerful adults and children often pick up on this and want to be just like them! It allows children to take on different personalities and practise how to cope with stressful and scary situations. It is also a great way to introduce problem solving into their play.

It is very likely that boys playing superheroes can become very physical and rough. This is part of their natural instincts to deal with their play physically. If you feel that the play is too rough and children are getting hurt, you can offer them opportunities to home in their aggression onto being superheroes in different ways. For example, using a plank to balance their way across shark infested waters to save someone, or creating their own stepping stones for the same reason. You can also think about what superhero they like and create activities which support their choice.

For example:

* Spiderman --------make spiders webs out of string in the garden along fences or any other equipment suitable for weaving. (Uses their fine motor and gross motor skills depending on the scale you use)

* Superman---------- practise writing  "S" on a badge to wear when pretending to be the man in tights!

* Ben 10 ---------- make their own watches from card and paper, older children writing numbers on the dial

* Batman------------ create a bat shaped mask to wear or even bats to hang from the ceiling!!

There are so many ideas, many you can find on the Internet. One idea I once organised in a setting was to have a superhero day, where we all dressed up as superheroes (staff included!) and had a fun day reading stories about rescues and helping people and also lots of problem solving activities. The children loved it and the day was very successful!!

So the next time you see a child pretending to be a superhero, take a little time to see how you can home in on their interest and help them learn valuable lessons..........after all, every superhero story has a moral!!!

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