Superhero Play

In our March 2019 newsletter, we explore the benefits that risk-taking and big body play provide to children in early learning environments. One theme that often promotes both risk-taking behaviors and big body play is superhero play. Children are drawn to the action and power that superhero play provides. It excites children, engages their creativity, and offers a wide variety of scenarios to explore. And yes, it can sometimes become aggressive, which is why teachers should be prepared to guide children away from the aggressive aspect of superhero play, back to a more creative and pro-social interactions.

Placing a ban superhero play is rarely the best choice, and can be extremely difficult to uphold. Superhero play allows children to:

  • Explore elements of humanity such as bravery, and the difference between right and wrong
  • Build confidence
  • Experience a sense of control over their lives, which is dominated by adult control
  • Improve physical skills, strength, and coordination
  • Let their imaginations soar as they look for new ways to solve problems
  • Work as a team to accomplish a goal
  • Communicate with peers in a way the promotes collaboration
  • Practice taking on the perspectives of others, which is key to developing empathy
  • Develop leadership skills

Instead of banning this type of play, consider how you might build upon it and incorporate superhero play into engaging learning activities.

  • When it seems that children are “fighting” each other, encourage them to both take on the superhero roles and figure out a way to defeat the villain together.
  • Encourage children to create a back story for their superhero. Perhaps these stories could be illustrated and turned into a class book.
  • Measure how far the superheroes in your class can jump or throw a ball as a way to incorporate math skills into superhero play.
  • Ask children to think like a team to solve a problem that you “discovered” in the block area.
  • Discuss the notion of “good guys” and “bad guys”, make links to the actions of these two characters and the actions children can take in the classroom.

For more ideas, check out these articles: