Pretend play, superheroes, and weapons – Oh My!

by Misty Krippel, Ed.M.

Image "child-164318_1280" from, licensed CC0
Image “child-164318_1280” from, licensed CC0

During our last Early Intervention webinar, “1-2-3 Play with Me! Recognizing and Valuing the Power of Play” with Dr. Kristie Pretti-Frontczak one of the stages of play discussed was imaginary play.   Parents sometimes worry when their children begin to engage in imaginary play involving weapons. Imaginary play involving weapons can be a natural way for children to learn to explore and grow in their development. Through play with weapons children can be imitating past history, or they might also pretend to protect and serve as a police officer or military member. Pretend play can expand symbolic thought as children pretend to hide, decide where to crawl or how to sneak around, and show pride in protecting loved ones.

Here are some resources that discuss different perspectives on imaginary play involving exploring weapons, and superhero strengths:

Teacher Tom, Teaching and Learning from Preschoolers

Teacher Tom, a preschool teacher for 15 years in Seattle, offers his perspective on pretend play with guns in the preschool setting, how he navigates this issue with his students, and great resources on the topic.

Superheroes and Weapon Play – For Fun and Learning

An Early Childhood Education website offers thoughts on the value of super hero and gunplay, and the roles of adults as they help children navigate this topic.

Superheroes: An Opportunity for Prosocial Play

This article from the July 2011 issue of NAEYC’s Young Children publication discusses how superhero play can promote social development in young children.

This post was edited by Robyn DiPietro-Wells & Michaelene Ostrosky, PhD, members of the OneOp FD Early Intervention team, which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about OneOp FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, and YouTube.

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