Every year, the children in my preschool classes have engaged in some kind of ‘war play.’ They act out the same scripts and dialogue: bad guys and good guys, a chase, and then it always ended with the good guys ‘killing’ the bad guys with guns, lasers, etc.’weapons they had made from the materials in our classroom.
This year, it became increasingly difficult to engage them in a different, more creative kind of play. After trying many approaches to banning or policing the play, I finally came upon the solution: to facilitate their play. I was amazed at the results.
I thought that not allowing the play in my classroom would solve my problems, but what I was doing was just avoiding the issue. Banning war play did not stop the children from engaging in it, they just did it in secret. I ended up policing, which was ineffective and did not help to move the children’s play beyond these same scripts day after day.
I finally gave in to their role-play, hoping that after a while, they would meet their needs and move on. But I noticed that they never changed their scripts. There was nothing creative about the children’s play, no problem solving or scaffolding, especially when they brought in toys from the shows they were watching on TV. These toys promoted play that was scripted.