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Developing Imagination in Children Through Superheroes

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Developing imagination is an important part of growing up. The superhero version of me when I was eight years old was a "Zoomer " with wings. Indeed, I once broke my arm imagining I was that very superhero and jumping off my front porch in roller skates. I am now (ahem) much older than eight, and have two boys, ages 4 and 9, who have their own superhero moments. I find myself in an interesting place, remembering the zeal and imagination with which I once approached those moments, and wanting to encourage them in my kids while also protecting them from folly. So I seek good products that help me do that, particularly since National Superhero Day approaches on April 28th. One such product I've found is the SOAR kit.

This kit comes from the "Superfly Organization of Active Recruits," which aims to "get kids to use their imaginations and learn about helping others through fun games and exciting missions."  It consists of a "top secret assignment from mission control," mission stickers, superpower playing cards, superhero activity sheets and other superhero gear, like capes. It is designed to inculcate social responsibility through fun, hands-on activities.


And, since National Superhero Day is this Sunday, it seems an opportune time to get one of these kits and put it to use. This month's "top secret" mission is to interview 3 people about what they think makes someone a real-life superhero. Use that to help you create your own superhero identify and write about it on the provided card.

Now, the mission itself isn't entirely unique; you may find similar goals in the Boy Scout handbook or Girl Scout Guide. But it's complemented with a comic book telling the story of SOAR, a trading card, an album with which to keep track of each month's mission, and of course, the cape. How fun is that?

Unfortunately, my nine-year-old son isn't easy to motivate with the prospect of interviews. What motivates him more is finding and collecting things, like geocaching trinkets and Pokemon cards. So I'm going to make his search for a superhero into a scavenger hunt that

  • starts in our family library, with a book called "Heroes for my Son," which provides excellent, succinctly-described examples of people from history that have done amazing things, then
  • heads to our closest library, where he can look up books about current people who are doing amazing things, and then
  • ends at our nearest Redbox location, where he can check out a movie or two about superheroes he likes and then we can discuss the qualities they exhibit that he could incorporate into his daily life.

Then we'll record that on the mission card, and put it, along with photos of our hunt, in the SOAR album. And what better time to do it than on National Superhero Day, this weekend?

Sound ambitious? Maybe. But it's nothing in comparison to the benefit to be gained from making such a point of defining what it means to be a superhero, and talking about ways to actually do it. I very much believe that charity is found as much in everyday interactions as it is in grandiose donations, and that if I don't take the trouble to define charity for my kids and incorporate it into our family life now, they have little chance of incorporating it into their adult lives down the road.

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