super hero play

Star Wars and Super Hero Play

Only days after the release and, even though they are too young for the movie, many kids are playing Star Wars. Did you know that super hero play includes more than fun?

super-hero playNot all the characters in Star Wars are heroes, but they have some incredible powers. These appeal to all of us. Throughout our entire lives we will be on a journey of discovery of what we can–and can’t–do. Kids are constantly exploring their own abilities, especially physically. They try to fly off the sofa, jump down the steps, and climb the garden wall. A slide at the playground seems to invite kids to try as many different ways to slide down it as possible. As a consequence, sometimes there are bumps and scratches that can be fixed with a kiss; sometimes, we find ourselves visiting the doctor for dressings and stitches. And not just for kids. This part of super hero play has a powerful appeal.

Certainly in both the movie and in play, heroes rescue and care for others. Children include this in their play and caring is a value we want them to develop. As they play, kids are connecting action to outcome. Not only is this a value, it’s also a life skill. Figuring out which results are okay and which ones are problems can be a challenge. When kids go on a quest or a journey, as many heroes do, they are playing with the idea that rewards for actions may come in the future instead of the present. Being able to delay the payoff is another critical life skill.

There are other social and emotional skills too, like learning just the right amount of force to use when interacting. How much is acceptable, how much is hurtful? Impulse control is another, especially for kids. No matter how much kids want to run and make noise in the house or center, these impulses need to be managed. Warp speed is okay in a place with lots of empty space, like a park or gym.  Self-regulation is a challenge and important for groups where individual needs and group expectations have to be combined.

Most super heroes engage in action. So do kids. Moving benefits both bodies and brains and is crucial for learning. Think of how many different movements are needed for a child to jump down a couple of steps to the ground. There’s the crouch down, the spring up, leaning out, and the landing. All these need to get linked together so there is a flow of energy. The brain links up all the parts of the action to create a whole. The brain uses this same strategy for language. Ever noticed how If kids are interrupted when they are talking, they have to start all over again? The mind is using similar pathways. Movements prewire the brain for higher thinking skills.

Super hero play is another great star idea for play. Materials needed can be as simple as a towel + imagination.  How many stars would you give this play-of-the-day?

Super Bowl and Super Ways to Play

It’s almost Super Bowl Sunday. How about some Super ways to Play? Here are 1,2,3 plays-of-the-day for some fun inside or outside.

superbowl-file0002112144087It’s almost Super Bowl Sunday. How about some Super ways to Play? Here are 1,2,3 plays-of-the-day for some fun inside or outside. Kids might have some ideas, like a bowl that is never empty, or that washes and dries itself, or gets really big if somebody is super hungry. There are lots of words that we use different ways. Last week, a kindergarten teacher told her kids she had to go out for recess too because she had supervision. One little boy’s eyes opened wide and he whispered “You do?” She told him all the teachers had a turn to supervise the kids. His astonished look faded and he said “Oh, I thought you meant you had Super Vision.” Riddles and rhymes are fun plays on words too.

super-hero-playAnother way to play is Super Hero play. All kids like to imagine they have super powers, especially the power to fly. An old t-shirt, towel, or scarf can make a wonderful cape. Instead of tying a knot, the fabric can be scrunched up and held closed with an elastic band. Super heros can be either gender and get exercise for bodies and minds, as they move in space and solve problems.

A super play that you can do every day is to read and share books and stories. Learning to read is the Super Bowl Challenge for kids and kids who have been read to at home start with an advantage. If one book is one yard, families that read to kids several times a week give them about 5,000 yards by the starting whistle–or school bell. Books are a key play, like this one by Brad Herzog and Doug Bowles.

Play is super and is kids’ favorite way to learn. Is there some super play happening at your house?