Some children may be finding facemasks intimidating, but lots of superheroes wear them – from our fabulous NHS workers to our nursery staff and even Spiderman – we look at the powers and potential of superhero role play.
Your children may not be able to play superheroes with friends or in nurseries at the moment, but it is still an important vehicle for imaginary play.
Now more than ever, the disguise element of a superhero costume – specifically those with masks like Batman, Catwoman or Buzz Lightyear can be used to help children deal with the new reality of carers and other people in their lives who they will see wearing masks of all shapes, sizes, colours and designs.
As with any role play, parents and carers can enhance superhero play and help reinforce this positive message by becoming involved and gently adding to the play. Here are some easy ideas of how to support superhero play:
- Get crafty and create your own capes and masks – who can come up with the best outfit?
- Help with creative language development – use positive words to describe masks – even make up your own power name for your mask and add a power pose!
- Be part of the narrative and support story lines – add in references to the mask being the protector of the superhero.
- Look at some superhero stories and read them with your children – note how masks often help to protect the hero.
- Help children create their own superhero or make their own comic strips from the story lines in their role play.
- Invent superhero gadgets to help them breathe in different mask styles.
Added Development Benefits
If you can encourage your children to engage in role play by using the heroes in their lives, it can also help support a number of areas of their development including:
- Set positive values
- Lift their self esteem
- Develop cooperation and collaboration
- Enhance their imaginative ability
- Help develop a sense of right and wrong in a safe environment
- Develop gross motor skills like running and jumping
- Develop and embed vocabulary when acting out scenes
The ways to benefit from superhero play are plentiful – well, in fact, they go ‘to infinity and beyond’. Here are three other ideas we really like:
- Discuss what superheroes eat to keep them strong and healthy and encourage them to write superhero menus, cook superhero dishes and perhaps even try some new foods because of this.
- Superheroes are generally goodies – work out a list together of daily good deeds and create an award for the superhero good deed of the day or week.
- Even superheroes need a base camp, so get creative and make a den using loose items such as blankets, chairs, cushions. Hours of fun guaranteed – it’s just coming back from the dark side and tidying up that’s the chore!