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War/weapon/super Hero Play


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Hi there,

I am doing my foudnation degree and am doing research into gun play. Is anyone willing to share what happens in there settings?

For example: we allow children to construct guns and then direct there play to try to ensure that they are using them creatively. A recent success was one boy who turned me into water and then with a second devise turned me back into peoples. He then told me of his superpower and turned his "gun" into a broomstick as his power was Harry Potter.

Does anyone else support this type of play? Do you have a zero tolerance approach? If so do you know why?

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I'm sure that I've read Peggy's account of supporting and developing super hero play on the forum somewhere - have you tried the forum search? If nothing shows up there, wait until she comes along, I'm sure she'll be able to help you!

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Hi Wendles,

 

There have been a few discussions in the past on the forum, particularly about gun play. If you do a forum search on this you will find these which may give you a little start whilst you are waiting for others to reply. I am going to move this out of the SEN forum too. :o

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Thanks, I did do a search but could not find anything. I did not realise I had posted this in a SEN forum!! I am new to all of this but love this website.

Thanks for the help so far

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Hi there,

I am doing my foudnation degree and am doing research into gun play. Is anyone willing to share what happens in there settings?

For example: we allow children to construct guns and then direct there play to try to ensure that they are using them creatively. A recent success was one boy who turned me into water and then with a second devise turned me back into peoples. He then told me of his superpower and turned his "gun" into a broomstick as his power was Harry Potter.

Does anyone else support this type of play? Do you have a zero tolerance approach? If so do you know why?

Welcome Wendles

 

Sounds like a fantastic play scenario - I love the idea of being turned back into 'peoples'. Could do with that myself at the end of a stressful day...

 

Have you come across the work of Vivian Gussin Paley? She worked with children to turn their own play scenarios - often based around superhero play - into stories. The children chose props etc, and took roles in order to act them out and develop. Her books also looked at the nature of how boys and girls play differently - and how practitioners' own views of how boys and girls should play affect their perceptions of what is acceptable and not.

 

We've recently adopted a more child-centred planning system which builds on children's interests more closely and since we girls are outnumbered in our setting at the moment (by more than three to one at some sessions), superhero play is often a feature of the activities we plan. We've done a lot of 'work' on what makes a superhero, how superheroes might move etc. We watch 'weapon play' very closely because it can so easily get out of hand ("you'll take someone's eye out with that!") but I never cease to be amazed at the things children can turn into weapons!

 

I'm going to watch this thread with interest!

 

Maz

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Vivian Gussin Paley, ~ Boys and girls, superheros in the dolls corner and Bad Guys Don't Have Birthdays: Fantasy Play at Four

 

 

We don't play with guns here: War, Weapon and Superhero Play in the Early Years by Penny Holland

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Hi there

 

I work in a small rural pre-school. Guns are part of everyday life for a lot of the children here. In a working sense that is. Lots of our childrens parents go shooting at the weekend as does the supervisor here.

 

Gun play is allowed as long as it does not get out of hand. If anyone is upset by it then the play has to be redirected. It has never been an issue here.

 

Shelley

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Does the fact that children see their parents using guns for this purpose alter the focus of their play, Shelley35? If children are playing with guns are they using them as weapons like they would in goody/baddy or cops and robbers games or do they get involved in role play involving hunting?

 

I just wondered if the fact that children understand their parents use guns for a reason would impact on their play. I'm not sure where I stand on the whole hunting debate, but I do understand that people in rural communities where gun ownership is more common have different sensibilities than we townies

 

Maz

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In reply to Maz, I would say that the children still play with guns in the same way as any other children but they don't see it as a threatening weapon if you know what I mean!

 

I would agree with Marion that they see it as a tool an everyday item.

 

Shelley

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I have 3 and 4 year olds who hunt at weekends with parents and grandparents so see them as tools not weapons. Last year I had a 4 year old who desperately wanted to bring his new gun to school to show me.

And did you let him?

 

Maz

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His dad brought it to show me before school started then took it home. I didn't particularly want a real gun in the classroom. He also brought the rabbit he'd shot with it. :o

One of those instances where having hands-on experience of the real article isn't probably not the best learning opportunity to offer then!

 

I know a primary school where the rabbit would have been brought into the school for the children to examine - they do that with any local roadkill! You'd need a pretty strong stomach for that, I fear!

 

Maz

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I did once take a dead long-eared bat into nursery that one of my cats had deposited on the doormat - I wanted to see if they could guess what it was called! And they did! :o

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I did once take a dead long-eared bat into nursery that one of my cats had deposited on the doormat - I wanted to see if they could guess what it was called! And they did! :o

It was called 'dead' presumably.. xD

 

Maz

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I've found that the more fuss you make the more the boys run around shooting. I generally if one has made a gun, gently say could they make something nicer that doesn't hurt people. I had a small band of boys a few years ago that continously made guns. the more we tried to stop them the more they did it. We ended up with light sabers water cannons etc.

we have found that a little hint that its not nice does more than a complete ban. Its a stage that some boys have to go through.

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Reminds me of an article my friend told me about years ago. A nursery's rabbit died and all the children went to the burial, but to fully exlain what 'dead' meant they dug it back up a week later, just to see!! Yuk, but no doubt educational :o

 

As to the gun issue, I think we are in danger of supressing boys natural play when we constantly tell them 'no guns here'. Girls are allowed on the whole to play anything they want because its non threatening but boys are always having their games cut short. My lads played guns, and indeed I still walk past them and shoot imaginary guns or bows and arrows at them. They havent gone onto a life of crime or become psycotic killers. The setting I'm currently in dont alow guns, in my opinion it just makes the children learn how to tell lies. When asked what they are playing with they will lie and say a hose pipe or a water pistol or some other non gun thing. And we all know they are really playing with a gun. xD

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His dad brought it to show me before school started then took it home. I didn't particularly want a real gun in the classroom. He also brought the rabbit he'd shot with it. :o

 

Good hand-eye control, hope you scored a few profile points there! xD

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Susan!!

 

Also, what about those children who come from a 'forces' family? - apologies if this point has already been made, I'm a bit short of time and 'scan reading' - I feel it's really important to show you value ALL family experience, particularly in the political/social climate today.

 

Rea and Steph, with you all the way!

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My sister works at a pre-school near a big forces base and how can they turn around and say 'actually what your dad or mum or grandparents do is a bad thing and you mustn't do what they do'.

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I posted previously about how we embraced the boys and girls wish to play superheroes.

 

As long as children have fingers they will have 'guns' :o

Rather than avoid issues that gun play provokes in an 'adults' mind, we should use ANY play that children engage in as a vehicle for a learning experience.

 

Enabling awareness about the difference between fact and fiction, role playing 'power' over others ( part of establishing identity, social connections etc)

I remember once a child at preschool 'shot me dead', I lay down on the floor and would not move for over 10 minutes, he never shot me again xD but he did continue to role play guns, which were now called lasers.

 

I was watching the "wright stuff" TV programme today, one of the topics of conversation was about 'Teenagers, guns, gangs' and the fact that 53 youths have been killed so far this year in by guns or knives. apparently one in four teenagers carry a knife.

The discussion talked about how descensitised we are all to violence, due to media, computer games etc. I think if we suppress this 'natural' play for under 5's children as they get older will be inquisitive, will be infatuated (for want of a better word) to 'play' out what appears to be over the centuries a 'natural' phase of child play. The younger the better to get it out their system, to have understanding adults who can teach them the difference between reality and fiction when it comes to the consequences of using weapons.

 

I haven't studied any theories and haven't looked closely at the difference between this play in a social context for under 5's compared to the reality we see now for teenagers carrying weapons. What I do believe is that children are not silly, they can begin to learn at an early age the consequences of their actions therefore gun / weapon play to me should be managed like any other activity, explore, learn, be safe, think of others and enable questions about what we are learning, and keep things in developmental perspectives.

 

Peggy

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A very good rationale Peggy. I really worry when we suppress play that is as universal as this is among boys everywhere. Young boys seem to 'need' this form of play and, as with most young children's play, it is another way of them making sense of the world and them feeling in control. I think that in refusing to acknowledge it's importance we are giving boys the message that we don't approve of them. I wonder what the adult male perspective is on this? I can remember as a child playing cowboys and indians and us shooting and using bows and arrows- I have grown into a peaceful soul and so have all my friends. I do have a friend who was very anti-gun play for her own son. Her son is now in the army and this has really upset her- she has said that she wonders what would have happened if she had not made such an issue of this when he was a child.

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I do have a friend who was very anti-gun play for her own son. Her son is now in the army and this has really upset her- she has said that she wonders what would have happened if she had not made such an issue of this when he was a child.

Just goes to show that a parent's place is in the wrong!

 

It would be interested to see what research has been done into this subject - but as Peggy says if children have fingers they have guns (both boys and girls have bitten their cream crackers into gun shapes for a snack-time shoot 'em up in our nurser). It does seem to be a natural part of play.

 

That said, I'm not about to buy a set of rifles for the role play corner!

 

The point about army/forces pre-schools is well made too - it would be interesting to hear from someone working in a group caring for children whose parents are on active service to see whether these issues are expressed through their play to a greater or lesser degree than that of their non-forces counterparts.

 

Maz

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WOW, thanks to all who replied to my original post. I have got the books mentioned, the trouble I am having is that I have been asked to use books published within the last 5 years. I think the Penny Holland books is great.

It has been very interesting to hear the views of so many individuals and those based in varying settings. I myself grew up in a very rural area and there were always guns in our house (locked up safely) but I used them from a fairly young age. I have also worked as a nanny on an American airbase, however the children were too young to really venture into gun play. I would like to hear more from those who work in military based settings and what there approach is.

I agree with whoever said that we suppress boys play because it is often felt to be aggressive but allow girls to play with whatever they like.

Thanks again to all who contributed, I was feeling very uninspired about year 2 of the degree, it has been very hard to get back into after the summer break!

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WOW, thanks to all who replied to my original post. I have got the books mentioned, the trouble I am having is that I have been asked to use books published within the last 5 years.

Wendles this is a real problem isn't it? We were told the same thing for our research project - but what do you do if the research area you are interested in hasn't had any recent publications or other projects completed?

 

And doesn't this preclude you drawing parallels with the work of almost all the educational pioneers? No one-could accuse Bruner or Vygotsky of being unimportant just because they haven't had anything published within the last five years!

 

I'm glad you're feeling a bit more inspired now - its hard getting back into the swing after a break isn't it?

 

Maz

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In the spur of the moment I bought a newly published book to support my FD studies because it sounded interesting:

 

Early Years Foundations - Meeting the challenge Edited by Janet Moyles Open University Press (bought through Amazon)

 

this exciting and thoughtful book supports practitioners in thinking through their roles to meet some of the many challenges they encounter

 

Much of it is very readable, some sentances are long with long words which I have to read again and again but I think I get the gist of. I'm hoping that as I proceed through my studies I can come back to the bits that seem a bit over my head.

 

Anyway, the reason for mentioning this is I have just read the chapter on identity and children as learners which focuses on gender and how children choose to position themselves in their world.

 

Later in the chaper it highlights the view that 'boys seek to overcome their feelings of anxiety and vulnerability through identification with superheroes', 'when a boy feels sad he simply becomes a powerful superhero and is not compelled to act out confusing events'. 'Unlike girls where there are few taboos in terms of exploring emotions and relationships'.

 

One of the points for discussion at the end of the chapter is how we can enable children to explore and develop their sense of self by encouraging children to investigate different ways of being by providing children with a wide range of discourses.

 

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Guest justcrazy

Hi,

 

I have worked with 'forces' children and my husband is in the forces. My children saw guns everyday coming past the security gate of camp. they knew their mums/dads used guns but to be honest they were never interested in playing with 'guns' etc in the setting. Nor were my own two children. Maybe as they see them so often they are no different than any other everyday object.

 

When I have come across children who play with 'guns' I do not allow it as guns do hurt people and would explain this if required on the childrens level. Mum/dad use guns in war zones ('to tell the bad people to stop being bad' out of the mouth of a three year old whose dad was in Iraq) not against their friends and as we are all friends at school we do not use guns.

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