Ok, maybe this title is a little harsh. I've recently started caring for my friends 3 kids, full time. Their play is rooted in Disney movies, particularly the princesses. I don't mind my DD playing these games (although I'd prefer if they played something else). but the problem is that the kids don't allow for any creativity. The game must be played according to the movie, which we haven't seen, and won't. This leaves Dd out completely and frustrates the other girls. I don't want my Dd to feel that play has to be done in a certain way or that her way isn't right. She has an active imagination and this seems to be bothering her.
Is there a way to encourage the other kids to play more creatively?
Homeschooling Mama to DD and one .
TTC #2. Hoping to !
Provide a dress up trunk for princess play? Have arts and crafts time to make princess crowns? Gradually start to read them subversive princess books and stories about the power of women.
As for the Disney movies... they don't all suck. Mulan, Treasure Planet and Pocohantas come to mind.
I would just continue to model creativity. I've been working with kids for 25 years, and I've never met any that had to role play a cartoon before. (except Star wars.. there was a Star Wars obsession for a while)
I'm not sure what I would think about kids who only wanted to play-act certain movies.
I did have one student who ate, thought and slept "Thomas the Train", but he was the only one in the group who did that, so he was pretty flexible about other kinds of play. It helped that I didn't own a single Thomas the Train toy.
I assume it's just a phase. Keep offering them other things to do, and eventually they'll find other interests. Maybe they are artistic and don't even know it. You can find some really nice art activities that are inexpensive or free. There's water play and water experiments, I have many websites that will give you some great ideas that wont cost you anything. (or much)
Oh, my gosh... I think that may be the worst one in my book. The "hellfire, hellfire" and the priest lusting after the gypsy... it creeped me out.
What do you like about it?
Probably the music.
I don't think it's that unusual. I recall listening to the neighbour's kids, before I had my own, acting out scenes from their favourite movies and correcting each other if they got the lines wrong ("My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!!"). It was very important that they get it perfect - right down to the pauses in action and speech. I think there is a certain developmental aspect to mimicry. It's probably hard-wired to a certain extent as a learning mechanism.
It is frustrating if that's the only kind of play they will engage in. As contradictory as it sounds, perhaps you can lead them into more open-ended play. Acting exercises are terrific for this sort of thing. Some of DD's favourites (she's a drama major):
- Charades - good ol' fashioned game that most kids love to play
- In the Manner of the Word - one player (the guesser) leaves the room, and the others choose an adverb (sadly, proudly, happily, sweetly....). When the guesser returns, s/he can ask the others to act out a task (shopping, dancing, eating dinner...) in the manner of the word. The others act it out in silence until the guesser has figured out the word.
- Defend/Attack - (Only if you don't mind a little conflict!!) Sort of a "rock, paper, scissors" game, only you use your whole body. Each person chooses a defence and an attack that they can act out when called upon. Two people oppose each other - one is the attacker and the other is the defender. For the record, "mind attack" and "impenetrable shield" are not great choices - pretty boring, in fact!
There are lots of improv games, if you google or check the library for resources on theatre for kids.
Another thought - "creativity" comes in different forms. Your post addresses creative storytelling and acting, and perhaps that's the kind of play that these girls prefer. It's become regimented, though, because they are caught up in telling the stories of their favourite movies. It sounds like it will be difficult to move them out of this regimentation.
Perhaps you can work on other types of creativity instead. I'm thinking of arts and crafts, science experiments, cooking and baking, building with blocks and Lego and K'Nex (or snow forts), and sewing up costumes. If you need to entice them into it, you can still use the princess theme. They can craft their own props or costumes, crowns and wands etc., bake for a princess tea party, build a castle or a dungeon set for their playacting .... Perhaps once they try a different form of creative play, it might help them loosen up with the storytelling too.
I think my approach would be to find other activities to get them interested in. I love ollyoxenfree's ideas, esp of bridging out from their current play by using a princess theme in other activities.
I'm also wondering if you could introduce your dd to some of the stories by reading her the classic fairy tales (I'm thinking Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, etc if that's something the girls play). And/or introduce a new movie or story that you are ok with your dd hearing/seeing that they might latch onto for new role-playing ideas.
Basically, I think that for now you'll have to be prepared to do a lot of led activities with them as opposed to free play. Baking (maybe towards having a tea party), arts and crafts, games, board games, etc, etc. If the Disney princess play is frustrating to all involved then you'll need to find something else for them to do. If you are lucky after a few days (or maybe a bit longer) of doing different activities the girls will realize that there are other modes of play that they can all enjoy, and will be able to apply that to their free play.
Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010
ouch! ouch! OUCH!!!! oooh mama that's harsh. really HARSH!!!
my friends son did not grown up on disney. but he was at the 'have to follow the rules stage' so he would insist dd play the way the games were supposed to be played.
i think this is a GREAT opportunity for you and your dd and the other kids too.
this is what they are going to see IRL.
you have the important part of making those kids realise that not all watch disney and to guide them how to teach dd to play.
and a perfect opportunity for dd to learn how to navigate unchartered territory.
i dont see why you wont play their way.
the fact that they are playing the movie way - its still play adn imagination.
once ur dd starts playing their way then its only fair for them sometimes to join your dd in her play.
seems to be a win win potential out there.
You may find that to encourage creativity you may have to get down in the trenches and really model it well. If these kids aren't used to charades or creative storytelling they might need good, concrete examples of how to do it.
It also wouldn't hurt to have other non 'role playing' activities on hand to direct the kids to when they are showing signs of frustration. Art supplies, personal sketch notepads, building blocks or whatever.
Mama to two girls: 5/06 and 3/09
Absolutely. If I wasn't clear earlier, when I said suggested that you lead them into more open-ended playing, I meant that you would explain the new games and participate with them, and even coach them a little, at least at first, rather than just make a suggestion to play something different. "Getting down in the trenches" is exactly right. You may be able to start a game and back out after a while, but I wouldn't count on it until they've developed a taste for this kind of play. I think it isn't just a matter of encouraging creativity. They'll need something a little more concrete from you, in the form of role-modeling and essentially instruction, since they seem to have little experience in playing this way.
Depending on how much time you spend with them, you could also try to expand their tastes in films too. If they are with you for a couple of hours after school, perhaps each week, you could pick a different non-Disney film and let them watch a little every day. You would have to be very careful with this idea though, since I can see them clamoring to watch their princess movies.
For the record, I'm okay with Disney, in moderation. My kids enjoyed them, but weren't obsessed, so I have a fairly mild view of them. DD is a teenager now, and sometimes she'll have a friend over for a sleepover and a Disney movie marathon. Mulan is their favourite. I think it's a nice little escape from teenage pressures.
My dd didn't grow up on Disney, though she she has seen some of the movies now that she is older, and she was also very controlling of play when she was younger. I had to talk a lot with her about allowing for other ideas in her play and finding ways to blend two games together to make it fun for everyone. Even with her ability to do really creative things she will still sometimes insist on doing everything from a book she has just read and loved even if it means her friends won't play with her because she isn't allowing their ideas in. Last year she wanted everything to be Dealing With Dragons related and she had many arguments with her friend who doesn't like anything that isn't realistic.
I don't think it sounds like the kids have no imagination. When they are at home they may do many wonderful games and plays that are not at all Disney related. When they are with friends though they may really want to act out the movie they love because there are enough people to do that. I suggest just telling them that your dd hasn't seen the movie and that they need to find a way to allow everyone a say in what goes on in the their play. I wouldn't get involved beyond that because I think they will work it out.
Mimicking is also a big component of play with some kids. My DD is a mean mimic, and can sing quite a bit of The LIttle Mermaid a capella. LOL But she also then makes up lyrics to the songs that fit in the tune, and she can spend hours making her Disney princess polly pocket dolls ninjas or dogs or who knows what else. Yesterday they were learning how to high dive in the tub. She went through a phase where everything had to be exactly like the movie, but she is much more likely to make those princesses be cowboys or have their carriages have a race than anything else.
So, that may be some of what you are seeing, and they may move past it. They may not, and just end up being fabulous film makers. Inspiration can come from a lot of places, and sometimes what we see as creative, others may not. :)
Adina mama to B 4/06 and E 8/13/12 (on her due date!)
I agree with those who are saying this sort of play is valuable and "creative" in its own rite.
I noticed when my son began watching a little bit of TV that his play was actually enhanced, in my opinion; his play became more complex. Instead of lining cars up, or sorting them by color, or sliding them one-after-another and making car noises (all fine ways to play with toy cars, by the way), there was more dialogue between the cars, occasional conflict, often with resolution. He was making "characters" of his toys, developing little "plots."
Now he's 6, and absolutely loves Harry Potter. I've really enjoyed seeing him go through phases where he plays out whatever we've read in the books recently--one day, he carefully staged the ending of the first book in our bedrooms upstairs--setting up a chess board as "wizard's chess," using stuffed animals to be "Fluffy the 3-headed dog," et cetera. The plot and characters--even much of the dialogue--was borrowed from the book/movie, but it would be absolutely untrue to say that his play at that time was not creative.
Depending on your daughter's age and inclination, and your reasons for saying she "will not" see whatever movie their playing out, I would reconsider letting her watch it and then let her join in the play. If you're firmly against her seeing the movie, I'd still let her engage in the play as best she can--if the other girls give her a hard time, remind them that she hasn't seen the movie so they'll have to explain the game to her, or whatever.
No. Only Star Wars. They play puppy, and kitty, and mom and dad, and other things, but they've never reenacted a movie or cartoon. They did play "Masters of the Universe" or "Ninja Turtles", but never to reenact something. It was just pretend without the script.