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February 25 - Superhero Adventure

One of the main goals I have with morning activities is teaching my kids how to work together. I try to make fun games based around cooperative play for them: I call these games "nuclear submarine games" based on those movies where people in nuclear submarines need two people to simultaneously turn keys (at locks far away enough from each other so that no one person could turn both keys) to launch their weapons. The idea here is to realize that there are some tasks one can only conquer by working together.

That's the main thrust behind today's morning activity, Superhero Adventure. I get up in there and play superheroes with the kids and subtly (or not so subtly) try to give them challenges they have to overcome by working together.

Often times we play existing heroes from the Justice League (because my boys are kind of snobs about DC over Marvel... just like their old man). But this time I had it be made-up superheroes, to give them a little more imaginative freedom. We went to our costume box for props.

Zephyr was Dr. Ice, with ice making powers. He said he also had icicles in his hair, and that he hadn't combed his hair since Christmas, and he wouldn't tell me which year that Christmas was in.

Lyric was Stripe Boy, with control over stripey rays. It came out during play that he can also make stripe portals to other dimensions.

 The helmet almost fit. Almost.

The helmet almost fit. Almost.

And I was The Colossus, a huge beast on a rampage. With my shield I could block Dr. Ice's Ice attacks, and with my sword I could cut through Stripe Boy's rays. I made sure to telegraph that the power was in the shield and the sword, pushing the kids to realize that if they worked together, Lyric could take out my shield and Zephyr could take out my sword.

The aim was to cause conflict (i.e., ineffective powers) and tie it to a solvable problem. I gave the kids a bit of time to try and come up with the solution on their own, but when they couldn't quite get it, I abandoned subtlety and switched voices to a more narrator type voice breaking down the solution ("But that's when Dr. Ice noticed he could use his ice powers on the sword of the Colossus to help Stripe Boy!") Fortunately, subtlety and superhero comics are frequently not a traditional pair (with many beloved exceptions that prove the rule), so giving clues felt very within the genre.

The kids had a great time with it. Superhero adventure is always one of their favorites. It's also one of the most challenging morning activities I do... playing with kids on their level is VERY HARD as an adult. I didn't think it would be before I had kids, but it's odd how being self-critical can throw everything off when you're trying to play like a kid does. I didn't prep for this superhero adventure like I sometimes do; that does tend to make things easier because you can steer the course of play in a particular direction you're prepared for. But you can be effective playing with your kids and winging it, and they will be glad you did.

 Action shot of Dr. Ice and Stripe Boy!

Action shot of Dr. Ice and Stripe Boy!