Thursday, April 28, 2011

Superhero Capes!

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?


Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

Amy, Thank you for this. Some very good thoughts and perspectives on super hero play. Good point by Vivian Paley, re: princesses/Darth Vader.

At our center we have a strict rule re: no running (for safety), but I like the point that children need this play, and it is our responsibility to provide safe places to do this.

Well, there really is so much here. I'll be processing this for awhile.
thanks. I also love your capes!

cathy @ NurtureStore said...

Super cool super heros! And very interesting things to consider about superhero play. I like the idea that our role is to facilitate play and make it safe but not to stop the kids doing it their way. Lovely to see you at the Play Academy.

Unknown said...

Such a timely post for me Amy. We have some parents at preschool concerned about superhero play so it is interesting reading Dan's take on things. It fits nicely with what we do at the moment - safety and making sure all the children feel powerful within the play are the main considerations for us. Play is how children work out their world and I believe that instead of banning a certain type of play it is much more valuable to support the kids as they work through what they want to work through.

Stephanie said...

GREAT post!!! Another activity that we do that kind of has the same affect -

Take 2 of those swimming pool noodles
cut them in half so you have 4
play SWORDS!!!

But first you need to set the boundaries/rules
have the children help to make the rules. That way they stick in their brains! They also watch each other like hawks to make sure that everyone is following them!!

Some rules we follow - only 4 at a time, no hitting above the shoulders, no ganging up on just one person, no hitting anyone that does not have a sword!

Parents look concerned at first also - but when you let them sit and watch and reassure them that the children follow the rules - they feel better!! It helps for the boys to release those testosterone bursts that they get!!

Another activity we like to do is we have pillow fights quite often!!

Have fun and let me know if you try it out!


Amy A @ Child Central Station said...

@Steph- we do the same thing with the pool noodles. We cut some in half, but some of the children like to use the long ones too. I have less boundaries, but I monitor the play very closely to help those who might not want to play anymore to let the others know that they are done. Leaving some of the noodles long makes them harder to control which requires more skill and/or teamwork! I only require that children ask the other children if they want to play, and not every child is required to have a sword. Some of the children actually prefer not having one- they like to try to dodge it instead. Dan really helped me realize how important it is to make sure all I am really doing is making sure that the children are safe by making the environment safe and helping the children who may not speak up to say things like "I don't want to play." and asking questions to remind the other children "Did you ask them if they wanted to be stabbed with a sword?" Giving them language and carefully observing what is going on. The game always has boundaries, but the children set them. They decide where it is okay to hit, etc. I love how many new "little" things I learned and how many "big" things were re-learned :). It is also great fun to see just how much sense it really does make when you put those things into practice and see the results!

@Jenny- I know Dan mentioned at the conference that he would be happy to share his ppt, you might find it helpful to reference when you are working things through with the parents. Are you connected with him? If not shoot me a message and I'll see what I can do to get it to you!

Amy A @ Child Central Station said...

It is so worth while to reconsider super hero play. Dan lets us know that he is a "born again" fan of super hero play. It really does allow children the opportunity to play and explore. AND we need to remember that a "super hero" can take on many different forms. They need not be the tv/comic versions. He tells a great story about a little boy who acts out being a preacher and Moses.

@Cathy- Thanks! I've been so busy lately, If I've managed to get posts up, I haven't linked up! Now that I'm done with traveling for a little while, keeping up with the blog and all of you will be much easier!

Unknown said...

Hi Amy! I love these but I love your interesting discussion points even more! We used to have similar discussions while teaching and always struggled with the gun issue in particular as gun crime is a major part of life in this city. I have featured this post as one of my favourites on It's Playtime @ The Imagination Tree this week! Help yourself to a featured button.

My friend died

 I learned a hell of a lot from Dan Hodgins.  He was mentor, a friend, and a "bone shaker" for many of us in the field of Early Ch...