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Gun Play in Early Childhood
February 19, 2016
And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see — or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read.
-Alice Walker

In a 2014 newsletter of the Children's Community School in Philadelphia, founder Merryl Gladstone talked about her struggles with gun play in early childhood programs.  She shared some insights from Elizabeth Criswell:

"She explored zero-tolerance gun play policies and shared how and why she tried to create space in her early childhood classroom for gun/weapon play.  It was eye opening and a relief to hear her ideas and experiences.  Elizabeth shared that she decided to change the zero-tolerance policy in her classroom because she felt first and foremost, it wasn't working.  It was fostering a culture of dishonesty in her classroom.  In having a zero-tolerance policy, Elizabeth wondered what message she was sending to children about their imagination and what message she was sending about the difference between real and pretend.

"She turned to research and learned that gun or weapon play is a universal truth in early childhood.  Studies where gun play is permitted show a short spike in aggressive behavior, but then this behavior notably recedes as the games are allowed to progress.  Lastly, her research affirmed that 'aggressive,' rough and tumble play, play fighting have been consistently linked to increased social competencies.  In the end, Elizabeth found that as it was in the studies she read, when gun play is allowed and is treated like any other type of play, it eventually moves from high interest to the periphery.

"Play is a tool that children use to explore and know their world.  When children are given the chance to explore and play with weapon play, it eventually gets played out.  They have explored it and they are not as driven to explore it.  It seems to me a better outcome then if we are to deny them the chance to explore an issue they are curious about and as a consequence they feel they have to hide their interest or curiosity."

Contributed by Kirsten Haugen






Make the complex task of creating a child-centered curriculum easier with the practical guidelines and ideas in this updated and expanded handbook. Learn how to sharpen your observation and documentation skills, set up your space, and transform your teaching to reflect children's interests and needs. Insightful classroom stories, assessment tools, checklists, comparative charts, and activities encourage new approaches and self-reflection as you plan your curriculum and put it into practice. Addressing new standards in early education, two new chapters focus on teaching academics in a meaningful way and guiding children as they play and learn.

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Comments (20)

Displaying 5 of 20 Comments   [ View all ]
Peter Clark · June 17, 2019
Tactical Edge Hobbies
Brisbane, Brisbane, Australia


Nice stuff you shared here. Toy guns are toys which imitate real guns, but are designed for children to play with. From hand-carved wooden replicas to factory-produced pop guns and cap guns, toy guns come in all sizes, prices and materials such as wood, metal, plastic or any combination thereof. Many newer toy guns are brightly colored and oddly shaped to prevent them from being mistaken for real firearms.

Peter Clark · June 16, 2019
Tactical Edge Hobbies
Brisbane, Brisbane, Australia


The post you shared here is very informative. From hand-carved wooden replicas to factory-produced pop guns and cap guns, toy guns come in all sizes, prices and materials such as wood, metal, plastic or any combination thereof. Many newer toy guns are brightly colored and oddly shaped to prevent them from being mistaken for real firearms.

Peter Clark · June 16, 2019
Tactical Edge Hobbies
Brisbane, Brisbane, Australia


The post you shared here is very informative. From hand-carved wooden replicas to factory-produced pop guns and cap guns, toy guns come in all sizes, prices and materials such as wood, metal, plastic or any combination thereof. Many newer toy guns are brightly colored and oddly shaped to prevent them from being mistaken for real firearms.

Peter Clark · May 28, 2019
Tactical Edge Hobbies
Brisbane, Brisbane, Australia


Toy guns are toys which imitate real guns, but are designed for children to play with. From hand-carved wooden replicas to factory-produced pop guns and cap guns, toy guns come in all sizes, prices and materials such as wood, metal, plastic or any combination thereof. Many newer toy guns are brightly colored and oddly shaped to prevent them from being mistaken for real firearms.

Peter Clark · April 16, 2019
Tacticaledgeau
ormeau, Queensland > Brisbane Metro, Australia


Nice post you shared here. From hand-carved wooden replicas to factory-produced pop guns and cap guns, toy guns come in all sizes, prices, and materials such as wood, metal, plastic or any combination thereof. Many newer toy guns are brightly colored and oddly shaped to prevent them from being mistaken for real firearms.



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