Today, we decided to craft some easy capes. If you are looking for some other fun cape ideas made with fabric, you might want to check out this link to the diary of a quilter for a super easy cape. If you do a search for tutorials, you will find a wide variety of capes out there.
We decided that we could make some capes out of plastic bags and duct tape. The children decorated their capes, but most of the taping was an adult project. I did not prepare the capes in advance. I believe that crafting with children, even when it is more of an adult type product focused activity, the children need to see and be a part of the process. The value in a craft project for children and adults is learning and seeing the steps involved to make a product. Children can learn the sequence of events.
First, you put tape around all of the edges of the bag.
Then you add tape to where the handles of the bag were. This will make the straps for the cape.
We made our straps very long. We did this because we didn't want to close our capes off. I know a lot of patterns use velcro, etc, we wanted long lines of tape to criss cross in front of us or to hold onto when we are flying.... You could make shorter straps and secure them with velcro if you wanted to.
Some of us decorated our capes while the other children had assistance in turning their bags into capes. The decorating part can come before or after the cape is made.
Yes, those are permanent markers you see the children using. Like all sorts of other "tools" the children have an opportunity to use, permanent markers are needed for certain projects.
Another benefit of craftings something with children is that they can see how products are made, and you can teach them that not everything has to be purchased from the store. You can make, and learn the skills need to make a lot of things that other people might opt to buy. A lot of our crafts are also using materials that other people might throw out, so the idea of re-using and repurposing is another great value that can be taught through crafting. In my mind, the difference between art and craft is that art is open ended, and with craft there is a desired outcome or product. I know that there are very good blends out there, and children can really delve into tinkering with processes in making a craft, but this is how I personally separate the two. Here, we really spend a lot more time with art, but have intermingled "projects" or crafts as options for the children.
When we were done decorating, we tried the capes on... A criss cross in the front:
With a "cool" cape on our backs....
Or, we can hold out the strings of tape when we are flying through the air....
You can use the same basic process to create a large bib/smock for younger children to use when they are exploring messy things!
I know you have heard me mention Dan Hodgins before, and again if you have not had the opportunity to hear him speak take the time to find an opportunity to! He presented a phenomenal "center stage" workshop on Super Hero Play at the MiAEYC Conference in Grand Rapids a few weeks back. Here are a few things to ponder when you think about and consider super hero play from that workshop......
* During super hero play, children have an opportunity to explore "good guy vs bad guy" It is important for their social and moral development.
*If you are going to take away super hero play, you need to find something just as powerful to replace it with. If you can find something that is just as powerful, please share... the rest of us are still looking for it.
*Children need safe ways to experience power. The more powerless children feel in their own lives, the more they look for power and the need and use of super hero play increases
*Vivan Paly asks a very important question we all need to consider.... "Why is mother/princess play okay but Darth Vader not?" (Or in other words, why do we allow girls freedom in their super hero play but limit or remove it from boys?)
*How much opportunity do you give children to have their own power? Remember, power and domination does not mean to hurt, it just means to have power!
*For children, superhero play is not a moral issue, it is developmental. We need to keep it developmental for children.
*When we are concerned about an issue that arises with children's actions where we might be concerned with bullying or a possible "abuse" of power, We need to focus on the "victim" Did you ask them if they wanted to play?
*Great props for children's super hero play: capes, microphones, swimming pool noodles as swords, giant bags made from sheets, cut up pieces of garden hoses.
*Children need a lot of space for super hero play, they need to be able to run inside, they need to fly.... Your job is to make the environment safe for them to do these things, not to stop them from doing it.
Grab your capes, it is time to play! If you could be a super hero, who would you be?