Superheroes in School

I was wondering if anyone had any experience in trying to teach superheroes to preschoolers.

The school I teach at is high/scope and has a ban on superheroes. Many of the boys in my class have expressed interest in Batman, and I want to use his influence to teach about what a real hero is, and emphasize the "saving" over the "fighting".

My fear is that with the movies, comics, and cartoons becoming more and more violent, they might be too young to catch the subtext, and all they see is muscle guys in capes pounding the crap out of each other. I want them to know that Batman's job is to protect people. I hoped to couple this lesson with a create-your-own superhero project, but was turned down by the school director.

Does anyone else think that banning superheroes might be a little prejudicial to the boys? When they bring up superheroes in class, and are told that it's not okay, I feel it sends the message that "what is important to you doesn't count". Boys like superheroes, and that is never going to change.

All I want is to put a positive spin on superheroes, and maybe empower a few of my kids to become heroes themselves.

Any thoughts?

Super Hero's

I am a fairly new teacher (3 years) and teach at a small private preschool. Each year my class is flooded with different dramtical play ideas that I support fully. We have done everything from race car units to mystical dragons. When a group of boys started to show interest in super heros I quickly noticed that their play was getting more and more physical. To solve, or guide their creativity in the right direction we sat down as a class and openly discussed the topic. We talked about what super heros do, who they are, why the are important...and every other issue having to deal with super heros. This not only gave my kids an oppurtunity to collectivly talk about what they are interested in but also gave me the chance to understand all of their fears, excitments, and all around knowledge of the subject. After we were all finished sharing I introduced a new and improoved super hero to the class, "PRESCHOOL PETE!!" As we all know, with excitment and energy anything will seem exciting to 3-4 year olds! Preschool Pete suddenly became a super hero that my kids could relate to even more. Nightly I would go home and write quick little plot lines for Preschool Pete. The next day at circle I would introduce a new plot and we would all collectivly write a new story for Pete to play out. We created rules from the start that Pete never uses weapons, which helped in the long run. After a week of creating stories we had Preschool Pete solving mysteries and protecting his school by using his words, sharing, listening to others, being a good friend, eating healthy and slowing his body down by making new choices. These ideas that we created toghether stuck with every child who particpated throughout the school year and I still hear back from parents about how effective "preschool Pete" had been in their childs development.

Hope this idea has been helpful and that others can use/create their own "preschool pete!"

Kyle W. McKay
Teacher, Younger Preschool
Holway Child Study Ctr - The Barn

Books on Boys

You should check out these books on boys. They might be of interest to you. Boy Writers (Ralph Fletcher) Misreading Masculinity (Thomas Newkirk)

gaetan p
www.onkidwriting.com

More on Super Heroes

I have recently begun a new position on the state level but I was a ECE and ECSE teacher for 27 years. As much as there is caution and fear about superhero play, for some reason it seldom became an issue in my work. Yes, at times some boys (and occasionally some girls) would want to act out their favorite superhero in play. I always insisted that the superhero play followed our standard safety guidelines. If I felt a child perseverated too much on superhero play I would use some simple techniques such as integrating the play in some other activity, setting a specific time and/or time limit on the play, or re-direct the child's interest towards a topic that was more relevant to the curriculum.

I guess I am saying that when I offered a developmentally appropriate and stimulating environment, the issue of a child spending too much time on superhero play became irrelevant.

One other issue to examine here would be to look at what social/emotional beneift the child is getting from this kind of play. Issues of low self-esteem, abusive or chaotic home environments, emotional disorder, and so forth can have an effect on this play. Children who have issues with control and power can find a level of satisfaction with taking on the persona of an all-powerful character. It is something to think about when deciding how much or how little superhero play you want to encourage.

Bruce S. Sheppard, M.T.S
EI/ECSE Specialist
Oregon Department of Education

Superheroes in Preschool

As Education Manager of 15 Preschool Classrooms, I encourage my teachers to implement the interest topics of our students. Superhero topics, being one of their interests, are welcomed under several conditions: In order for the Superhero play to be educational, I ask my teachers to follow a Story Sense Protocol. This protocol includes: Characters, Settings, Problems, and Solutions. First, preschool children need guidance during Superhero play in order to understand the 'characters' (Superheros) at play. This means knowing the names, the purposes and any other attributes that make the Superheros special. Second, teachers should focus on the hypothetical 'settings' in which these characters (Children) will be playing. Usually the settings will include locations that children have visited; Homes, parks, forests, cities, toy stores, etc... The intention is for teachers to help children visualize these settings, to the point where the students can describe and elaborate the surrounding environments at play. Lastly, once the characters and the settings have been established, problems should be integrated in the play so that all of the members of the Superhero team can work collaborately on finding non-violent solutions to the problems. Teachers can provide simple or complex problems related to real life situations, thereby teaching and instilling real hero problems and solutions, while allowing children to be their favorite Superheros.

batman and superheros

Even though our environment is currently female domintated, we do support and allow superhero play and we do teach the positives of superheroism as it is a particular interest of a few of our boys and some girls currently. With anything, there is balance. We do support this type of play in our center, we also promote prosocial positive behaviors that go along with it, balancing needs. I find that it is generally banned because of fear that it will eventually end up aggressive. As you say, boys do engage in this type of play naturally and we certainly try to send the message "that they do count". I would empower any child to be heroic in their own ways, that supports moral development and I might add, preschool girls will become involved in this type of play and do themselves need to see themselves as superhero's. As a young girl I was facinated by bat man, cowboys, and spider man. Let's not forget that in my generation (1960's) there were few female superhero's to speak of if any at all.

If you look at the needs of your children, if you look at kindness and helping behaviors, if you look at going above and beyond your abilities, it is a win win for all.

Thank you for speaking of the topic. It is a good one and does need attention and it does need to be supported for all the right reasons.

Julie

Superheroes

Thanks so much fro this question. I am struggling with the same issue with the boys wanting to be Batman, Spiderman, Ninja Turtles, etc.. I am lucky as to be able to explore in our classroom these interest, but I was wandering how to do it so there is a positive spin on it. Our children are very physical and have a hard time with personal space.

Batman is a Thinker and High Level Problem Solver

Although I teach older students (grades 5-7), I believe that this type of application is appropriate at any level. Batman is a thinker -- unlike many super heroes of the comic books, he has no special powers. Batman is not an alien, has not fallen into a vat of radioactive goo, and has not been bitten by a rare insect or animal. Batman is fully mortal and has to problem solve to discover the truth.
How does Batman figure out who stole the secret files? He uses the scientific method; he asks appropriate questions and builds on that line of questioning. Batman INVENTS tools to solve problems. The utility belt was not a gift from a strange and alien life form -- he invented each item through problem solving and trial and error with a creative flair (especially when it comes to incorporating bat shapes). This is a higher order thinking skill – creating a tool and then analyzing the results.
Batman is also a model for physical fitness. He is athletic and moves a great deal. With the high levels of inactivity and obesity among our children, he is a necessity.
Lastly, Batman is a defender of the weak and downtrodden. He never calls names or says mean comments to others.
I guess my final comment is that if we eliminate Batman, we must also eliminate all others who represent these aspects – Firemen, Policemen, Detectives, Inventors, Scientists, and Dads.

By the way, I use genetically based superheroes (mainly X-men, etc) when we are learning about genetics and mutations – beneficial and adverse.

THANKS!

Thank yo so much for this different view on Batman. In preschool we are always trying to support our children in problem solving, dealing with name calling, and physical fitness. Thi just gave me a whole new perspective.
Thanks.