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Boys and weapon play

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Anyone got any links to any good research that suggests that weapon play is a good thing and should not be discouraged?


I just need some back up as I'm getting it in the neck that I let the boys make guns and actually encourage it!


Edited by ChrisAR
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Penny Holland We Don't Play With Guns Here, would be a good place to start. I'm in a "no guns" setting now and to be honest it is so exhausting trying to enforce it and such a waste of time (as I'm sure you all know). If I wasn't on a temporary contract and already pushing my luck in many respects, I'd challenge it. However I feel given the circumstances, it might be one challenge too far for them!

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We've found that over the years we have managed to use 'gun' play to our advantage - hitting targets with nerf guns, adding scores, managing to use water guns in summer to wash windows and water flowers. However, this only goes ahead if I explain to the parents what we intend to do and ask for their consent (verbal, not written as I don't want any more paperwork).


Our biggest problem is Ben 10. Children tend to hit, kick, bash etc each other and its all fun until someone gets hurt.


Good luck,

Spiral :-)

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I played 'army' all the time when I was growing up, one especially fab summer when I was about 13/14 in a hay field with loads of friends still brings a smile. I'm not violent because of it.

Maybe ask the people you're trying to convert of their memories of growing up and why we limit children these days to softer more sedentary activities.

Ask them to show you what research they are basing their thoughts on as to why children shouldnt play gun games.

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Only gave this a brief read but it might help. http://www.richlearn...y with guns.pdf

And this http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/earlyyearsmatters/p/genericcontent_tcm4472726.asp

I've been googling and while some articles say research shows no link between gun play and later aggression, I cant find any links to the research. I think they'd be very hard pressed to prove you wrong :rolleyes:

Edited by Rea
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Guest sn0wdr0p

We have a fantastic water week every summer which ends with a massive water fight - usually staff are the wettest as the end of the day. The water guns get bigger and bigger each year. The children and parents love it. I have only ever had one parent object to guns. We made sure water week was the week he was always on holiday.


If you live near Hull and you haven't discovered it yet East Park have a fantastic water play area with locks and dams, paddling area, streams and lots of water play equipment. We travel in to visit it in our water week.

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give me a gun - i just want to have some fun

don't just say no - we don't do guns here

I know that they can hurt and make people fall down

but I like playing guns and pointing it up and down

so don't just say no - teach me how and why

some guns hurt and make people cry

and then teach me some more about how guns can be good

and keep down the numbers of deer in the wood

tell me guns can be water ones for getting all wet

and be part of the summers i will never forget

don't just say no - teach how some guns have laser and lights

like Buzz Lightyear- he does things right

so please teacher think before you just say no

let me be a child and learn through my play

pretending with guns wont make me want to kill someone one day !

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  • 2 weeks later...

You might be interested to read my competition entry of August 2011 - the names have been changed, but the recount is accurate; incidentally, I won the competition!




Early Years Update: Summer Competition


Your finest professional moment


Your biggest professional blunder from the last year



My story is threefold; it begins with a professional blunder which emerged into a period of enlightenment which led to my finest professional moment!


To set the scene

Guns, weapons and superheroes.

Guns? At nursery? Oh no! We don’t have guns … guns, swords or anything ‘like that’ - guns and weapons hurt people.

“No, that laser blammer has
to go on the shelf – you can have it back when you go home, but you mustn’t bring it back again because guns hurt people and we don’t hurt people at nursery, do we?”

Besides, ‘gun’ play gets noisy and disruptive and the children just run around shooting each other!

“That’s not a
, is it? Oh no, I can see now … you’ve made a
with the Sticklebricks
… that’s nice … are you playing
… whose hair are you going to dry today? Oh, and I see
made a
– I hope you’re not going to turn me into a frog! What else shall we do with the wand … can you do some magic?”

Transformation – that’s
it needs to encourage ‘positive play’ – it’s easy really!

There ends ‘My Biggest Blunder’!


The Enlightenment

Every Child a Talker (ECAT) – a much needed programme designed to help practitioners ‘… create a developmentally appropriate, supportive and stimulating environment in which children can enjoy experimenting with and learning language. … Through everyday fun and interesting activities which reflect children’s interests … ECAT will encourage early language development right from the outset, extending children’s vocabulary and helping them build sentences so that before they start school, children are confident and skilled communicators’.

DFES The National Strategies | Early Years



An ECAT support meeting – the topic of ‘guns’ is brought up. Oh good, now to find out how others deal with the
of children turning the nursery into a war zone!


What was that?!

In a nutshell …

‘… children’s ideas and interests in superhero play can provide a potentially rich language experience … if approached positively ‘guns’ can be used as a vehicle for introducing or expanding a whole range of concepts … ‘who can build the biggest, smallest, tallest, longest … how far … how high … can you put this piece above, below, inside, on top …?’ a multitude of mathematical language. PSED: confidence, sharing, cooperating … CLL: superhero scenarios … giving/following directions to make a laser or gun … the power of imagination starts with the child’s interests … boys underachieving in literacy …’ etc.

I left the meeting with a range of feelings … dismay, guilt – WHAT HAVE I DONE? Have I been sending boys off to school, for the past 25 years, stifled and unmotivated? Well ... ... yes, I probably have!


Meanwhile, back at nursery

‘Jake’ is a very sweet and ‘special’ little boy. He is very clever … exceptionally clever. At three years of age he could read – in fact he could read my weekly objectives to the rest of the class; he was so interested in the world of print that he would spend much of his time reading the parents’ noticeboard or looking at the planning on the staff noticeboard. On one occasion Jake asked why there was no plasticine to play with because on the planning it said that there should be plasticine. By the age of four he had joined the Year 2 class for guided reading each week and took home a reading book (level 8+ free reader). When he completed the SATs reading comprehension Jake scored a level 2a (first attempt – no practice). His understanding of the number system was also excellent – he could recite numbers to infinity, say the number that is ‘one more’ or ‘a bigger number’ than any two, three of four digit number and knew his two, five, seven, ten and eleven times table. But Jake found it difficult to engage in play with other children – perhaps not
but he just didn’t seem interested. The children played at a different level to him … until, the day after the ECAT support meeting.


I asked ‘Isaac’ and ‘Ben’ (two very active little boys whose main interest is Power Rangers and Ben 10) to tell me all about ‘their superheroes’ and show me how to make a gun/laser with the Interstar
. At first they looked at me with distrust. But gradually they realised that I really
want to know how to make a gun and a laser and, as this realisation came, their whole ‘body language’ changed. I had never seen these boys, who had been with us for almost a year, so animated and well – just
! Jake noticed the activity and watched with interest for a little while, then he too sat on the floor and picked up the construction toys and started to build a laser, following the directions of his peers. Soon we had all built our guns and lasers. Outside, we played Power Rangers – I was the ‘baddy’ and I had to hide from the ‘goodys’ – there were lots of ‘pows’ and ‘bangs’ – IT WAS SO MUCH FUN; I think the children enjoyed it too!


My finest professional moment came not only with the realisation that boys’ imagination can be so very powerful if they are allowed to follow their own interests but also when I stood back and watched Jake as he played alongside and in cooperation with his peers, forming good friendships and using this to move forward in his personal, social and emotional development.


A Nursery Teacher

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In our foundation stage classes, we prohibit gun or weapon making with commercial equipment. However, we encourage children to make a weapon with junk modelling materials (recycled materials). The children can then play their game with others who wish to play, so no standing on the climbing frame shooting innocents(!). We have had boys who can't wait to exercise those fine motor skills, talk about what they want to do, how they did It and how to make it better. Children are designing and building, reviewing, improvising, making one object represent another and problem solving, as well a taking the feelings of others into consideration. Works for us.

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easy to see why you won :)

Do you remember why you banned gun play to start with?

My daughter was 2 yrs old when she started playgroup (1982) and I stayed with her, so being a young mother I looked up to those who were in charge of the playgroup and took on their views without question :( . It wasn't long before I became the pre-school leader; over the years I attended 3 x Diploma in Pre-school Practice courses, amongst others, and the topic of guns at playgroup/pre-school always came up - the general consensus was that guns encouraged 'violence' and should be discouraged at pre-school - although there was always the view that if you ban guns it will encourage interest later. There was certainly no thought about using the topic of superheroes to develop play and learning!

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forgot to say Well done too Devonmaid - what did you win ? your own laser gun with twin barrels , infrared light and super fast trigger release :D

Wish I had :D oooh just imagine! It was a copy of 'Developing Social and Emotional Skills in the Early Years' (T Rae & S Daly) -

a complete programme to support PSED.

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Guest sn0wdr0p

I went to a weekend play conference for playworkers a few years ago and we were welcome to bring our children along to take part in the workshops. I signed up for the weapons play session. The trainers went through the benefits of this type of play, how to make safe weapons with rolled up newspaper, the ground rules we should apply then my children aged 3 & 7 were let loose - What a nightmare there was no stopping them - I was asked to leave with the boys!!! ( Yes we have since had them diagnosed with ADHD and Autism whcih may explain a little). I was mortified and have never been back to the conference on subsequent years. I can laugh about it now.

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Oh Snowdrop, that made me laugh from the point of view of a mom who used to have a very robust little boy, he cant believe how he used to behave now, and no ADHD either!

But you must have been mortified at the time, what a terrible way to treat someone :huh:

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that's excellent news Chris - how did you manage it ? by showing the HT these posts ??


Well thanks to Holly for pointing me in the right direction with the Penny Holland stuff and by using the links Alabaloo sent me - I did some searching and came up with 5 documents that argued for weapon play.


The Head is very much of the mindset that if you can provide evidence that whatever you want to do makes a positive impact on learning then he will go with it.


Unfortunately the forum is blocked at school by Sandwell's Netsweeper software..

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We have many army families based in our LA so the children are often aware of real fighting, guns and weapons so banning gun play/talk would be to refuse to acknowledge the children's cultural experience, which would always be a bad thing!


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I agree Catma - funnily enough we had a discussion with the boys one lunchtime regarding the roles of different people in the armed forces - they were surprised to learn that not all soldiers shoot people or carry guns and it opened up great discussion and gave them some food for thought !

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