No Disney or theme characters - explanation to parents

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by PreTeacher, Aug 1, 2008.

  1. PreTeacher

    PreTeacher Rookie

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    Our school would like to introduce a policy of no theme style characters - even disney type. We are looking for a good way to explain the policy, along with research that supports this position.
    This would relate to parents buying toys/games etc for the class and more..

    Thanks for your help.
     
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  3. emmakate218

    emmakate218 Connoisseur

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    What is the research? I'm curious.
     
  4. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Just to clarify-do you mean your school's policy would be that there isn't disney books on display or character dress up, or do you mean there isn't to be personal backpacks or shoes with the characters. or both?
     
  5. PreTeacher

    PreTeacher Rookie

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    the policy is for items within the school. We will not be policing children's backpacks etc..
    The research behind it is to encourage childrens imaginations, rather then have the characters or themes be the focus of their play... to have the children create or drive the use for the toy, rather than the toy driving the play.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    If you know the research behind it what do you need from us?
     
  7. alilisa

    alilisa Habitué

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    I'm not sure how you would be able to explain it to the parents. They usually buy what their kids can relate to. I guess I have never had a parent buy things for my classroom, I guess if I did I wouldn't turn anything down as long as it was appropriate and educational!
     
  8. Prekfreak

    Prekfreak Rookie

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    Just out of curiosity is this a public or private school?
    I guess you could state something like "we are implementing a new policy this year, one that will foster children's imagination. therefore we are encouraging all students and parents to buy/bring/etc. only non-cartooned themed items."
    Not to be a downer, but this sounds like a harsh policy. I'm sure that there is research somewhere, but for some kids that come from a rough back ground that is the only thing they can hope to relate to, a hero, a handyman, a princess. To me this can foster the imagination just as much as non-themed things.
     
  9. TeacherShelly

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    Look here for the NPR story about creative imaginative play vs. theme based play (e.g., freeplay building with legos vs. Star Wars lego set). The gist is about self-regulation and commercialization. There are several researchers cited which might start you in the right direction.
     
  10. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    We actually don't allow the commercial toys on our shelves either. It isn't that we can't have plastic, we do have bristle blocks, crayola markers and so on. We just tell the parents that we make choices so that everyone can be engaged and that isn't a "wonderful thing that the child can play so well, with such everyday items". every once in a while someone will give us a book with disney on it-we just say thanks read it a couple times and put it in a special spot (away deep somewhere) and sometimes when we are working with a king/queen theme those things come out for a minute. we don't watch tv at school-so that sort of sets the tone for no disney. we just don't ever get to it-so the children don't talk about "we watched...." at home and the parents don't think to bring it.

    we have a parent list of items we need to fulfull our dreams for the month (like seeds, or wall paper sample books) and the parents do well thinking of these sorts of things.

    we do play princess-but we use dress up scarves tied on us rather than movie displayed dresses we can't get on, or off and that way we can all have them. otherwise there would be one snow white and one cinderella. we do have tools, just not the loud battery ones that have the characters on them, we have the tough regular little tykes ones that haven't changed in a life time.

    we use recyleables and real items way more than toys r us stuff. just works out that way.

    what are you thinking of doing?
     
  11. teacherSMK

    teacherSMK Habitué

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    So, just curious, if a parent purchased a disney board game for a classroom, would it be refused? I guess in my experience (limited that it is), I would never, ever turn down a gift for the classroom, unles sit was totally inappropriate for children...:huh:
     
  12. tracykaliski

    tracykaliski Connoisseur

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    We have always had a policy at our school of "no toys" and nothing commercial at all. Our parents in some cases actually choose our school over others because of it.

    In my experience, children have plenty of opportunities to explore commercial toys and experiences outside of school. By providing them with a commercial free experience at school, they may just be able to develop a part of themselves that they might not if it was just more of the same that they had at home. It's an opportunity for them to engage themselves in an activity that they might not otherwise.

    I applaud your school for taking this on. You might even see a change in the children's behaviors too.
     
  13. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    I LOVE the idea of a commercial-free school.

    My son (age 3) is rarely exposed to any commercialism in our home, yet somehow he knows so many characters and is drawn to them. We were in the grocery store the other day and he insisted on having "Diego yogurt." I asked, "How do you know Diego's name?" A boy in his Sunday school class has Diego on his shoes and that's how my son learned it.

    (I didn't write that example to say students shouldn't ever be allowed to wear character shoes, but just to say that commercialism is so pervasive in our society that to have a refuge free from it in a classroom is very appealing to me.)
     
  14. vannapk

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    I also think this is a good thing. I agree with a PP though, in my very low SES, high ESL area the characters are sometimes the only thing my kids relate to when they first come to school. I try not to have that type of stuff in my classroom, but I do have a few character books in a "favorite character" book tub. I try to wean them off the character dependency during their year with me, sometimes I think it's a losing battle.

    I have a little mantra when it comes to those types of t.v. shows/toys/books and stuff, when the kids start talking about it in class I say "I only like shows/toys/books that make me smart." Soon they will ask me questions like "Does SpongeBob make you smart?" (that's my most hated cartoon) and I say "No, let's not talk about him". It's funny when they are talking about SpongeBob in class and one kid will say to another, "Don't you know? SpongeBob does not make you smart! Mrs. Blank said so!" :)

    Possible Threadjack:
    This reminds me a little of a news story I saw last night. It was about a woman who wrote a book called A Year Without Made in China. They interviewed her in a toy store with her kids and she was showing the reporter how every single character related toy was made in China and how her son was so miserable because he couldn't buy any of it. She talked about how she couldn't find shoes for her kids that weren't made in China, but all the character shoes were made there etc. Very intersting story/book.
     
  15. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    I am proud to say I didn't loose any classroom toys during the lead free recall, some are possilbly made there-but weren't in the recall.

    Anyway, my mantra is "bring me the episode where "....(spong bob) sings the ABC's-that one we can watch". Sadly i hear S'B has one-but no one knows
     
  16. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    We have that same rule. No, it doesn't apply to kids' own materials (backpacks, clothing, etc.) but we use no commercially-licensed toys within the classroom. I've told parents that they limit creativity in that they encourage kids to use the toys in limited ways -usually ways that reflect the plot of that specific TV show. More open-ended toys engage kids' brains in that they require the kids to think of their own "plots." It's better for language development, thinking skills, etc.

    And, if a parent purchased a Disney board game or puzzle AFTER I explained that to them, I'd say a gracious thank you and store it on a shelf for the school year - and donate it to charity at the end of the year. Or send it home with a child who I think doesn't have many toys. Or, if it's really poorly made, I'd trash it.
    Kim
     
  17. vannapk

    vannapk Groupie

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    I love it, too funny! :lol:
     
  18. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    what would i do if the children found that episode of sponge bob? sakes. works great with the cartoons! when they want to play superhero, which i really don't mind the idea of, i say "great-and how can we play that so there isn't any wepons or fighting. Because you know that is a school rule and if so and so is going to come to school he/she would have to follow the rules or go home". That is a huge meeting for the children to figure it out. They run the meeting they learn to listen. Sometimes they can get it figured out and it works, sometimes they decide that is to hard and the hero's have to go home. Then that group never decides to try it again. I love letting them work out the issues. :rolleyes:
     
  19. time2teach

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    If you don't allow any characters into your classrooms. What do you have in your library? No Clifford, No Disney, No Magic School bus (after all they are characters too...)....How can you not have characters and still have books? My simple brain just can't grasp this especially in the younger grades.
     
  20. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Yes to Clifford - he was a book character long before he was a TV show. (and you know what? the older books that were part of the original series are much better - same with Curious George). No to Disney, and Magic School Bus is a bit advanced for my age group. No Dora, No Diego, No Sesame Street, Blues Clues, etc. That's my criteria (and the criteria that my district uses....). If it was a book first, it's ok. If it was a TV show first, it's not. And even then, it's only books allowed in. For example, we don't put Dora and Diego figures in the doll house, nor do we use puzzles with Curious George on them.

    Kim
     
  21. time2teach

    time2teach Companion

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    OK that makes more sense to me. I was thinking NO characters whatsoever....and I just couldn't imagine what you would have in the classroom. So Winnie the Pooh is ok (although Disney) because it was a book first? Boy that seems like it would be hard to keep up with.
     
  22. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    The anti commericalism soap box

    :love:The books that were books first have a deeper sort of story line. The books that were made to hook you into a tv show are really just there to bait you into holding a book so that they can convice you to buy the toy. I do understand reaching a student where they are at (and sometimes that is tv) but the reason to wean them off the toys and books in the classroom is that they really have to see the world outside. And if the lower soico person is the person hooked to tv, can they really afford more of the toys anyway? Really, in my mind it is disrespectful to leave a person from another culture or a person of low economic staus thinking that even school says they are only cool if they own certain toys. Commericalism is pervasive enough-we don't need it in the classroom as well. :mellow:

    Sorry that was a big soap box, jumpin down now.:whistle:
     
  23. vannapk

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    I agree with what Kim said. I do have a "favorite characters" book box but it has characters like David from the No David series, Clifford (bec. he was book first), Curious George (he was a book for a long time b4 tv) Froggy, Fancy Nancy, and other favorite book characters who don't have a show. Of course, since I don't have kids sometimes I'm behind the times when it comes to what's a tv show now and what's not, it's hard to keep up! :)

    I try hard to not have any Disney (they are my least favorite), Sesame Street, MSB, Blues Clues, and Barney books in my library. I used to have mostly those types of books in my class library when I first started out bec. I had no money and it was what I found at garage sales and thrift stores; I have tried to weed those books out of my collection as my library has grown.

    I must admit though, the first week of school I have a tub of all the weeded books from my collection and those are the books I use with the kids while I am teaching them how to use the classroom library because I don't care if they tear them up :)

    The one character I have a hard time eliminating from my classroom library though is Dora. My students are predominantly Hispanic and it's more difficult to find children's literature portraying Hispanic children. I do not read Dora books as read alouds, with the one exception of her dental health book. Dental health is such a big issue with my population and seeing Dora get her teeth cleaned sends a very powerful message to my group because they relate to her. I find that the students don't gravitate towards the books I don't read aloud so I don't find them flocking to the Dora books- and I only have about 3 in the favorite character box. They would much rather read No David or Fancy Nancy.

    My district hasn't banned character books, it's just my personal philosophy. I cringe when I send book orders home though and all they order are the character books :( I really tried to change that this past year and was somewhat successful.

    BTW, I found a little No David figure in the Scholastic book orders a few years ago and put it in the dollhouse, they love it!
     
  24. vannapk

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    Amen!
     
  25. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    I don't have any of those in my classroom and still I have HUNDREDS of books. There is so much fabulous literature out there!
     
  26. teach24iam

    teach24iam Comrade

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    We have a similiar policy relating to decorations and wall hanging and stuff, that we are NOT allowed to have any disney items up and about due to copyright and licensing issues. It's very sad..
     
  27. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    In complete and total agreement with you on this one.
    Kim
     
  28. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    The one character I have a hard time eliminating from my classroom library though is Dora. My students are predominantly Hispanic and it's more difficult to find children's literature portraying Hispanic children. I do not read Dora books as read alouds, with the one exception of her dental health book. Dental health is such a big issue with my population and seeing Dora get her teeth cleaned sends a very powerful message to my group because they relate to her.

    My district hasn't banned character books, it's just my personal philosophy. I cringe when I send book orders home though and all they order are the character books :( I really tried to change that this past year and was somewhat successful."


    "Vanna - two things. We also have big dental health issues with our ESL population. I always wondered if that is pretty much universal. I ended up with one little girl who was hospitalized last year and needed surgery to heal her mouth...

    And I am soooo with you on the book order issue. Even my wealthier families get hooked on the junk books. I have one family who spent, literally, $60 a month on books...all Transformers, Power Rangers, Spiderman, etc. In my opinion, they are barely read-able, and are clearly not literature. What did you do to change the book order issue this year? I'd love to try something...
    Kim
     
  29. vannapk

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    Sorry to hear about your student. That's par for the course here too. I had one little guy who missed more than 10 days last year due to multiple dental surgeries. My group seems to like to pull the rotten baby teeth and replace them with silver teeth- UGH!

    As for the book orders, I started really pushing my "mantra" about how those types of books don't make us smart. Whenever somebody would order books I would comment "Oh, I see Jose ordered No David!, that's one of my favorite books."

    I previewed the book order with the kids in large group and pointed out our class favorites (high quality literature). I offered extra flyers in the art center and demonstrated how they could cut out their favorites and glue them to a paper to make a wish list. I wrote the words "wish list" on a sentence strip so they could write the words on their paper and then they would take it home so parents would actually know what they wanted ;) I found that many parents just ordered books without consulting their kids, they just assumed they wanted the character books, I was horrified! I put in my newsletter that ordering books was to be a collaborative effort between child and parent and I stressed it again at parent nights.

    Whenever a child had success or accomplished a goal I would send home a little postcard (Vista Print) and I would write on the back, "Please consider ordering a Scholastic book to reward blank for all his hard work!" I would attach the postcard to the book flyer-sneaky but it worked! I wanted to show parents that books are the best gifts, not sneakers and junk toys.

    Another mantra I used around Christmas whenever they asked me what I was going to ask Santa for I would always respond "books make the best gifts". My goal wasn't to receive books from the kids as gifts, but to make them think about what a good gift really was and to learn to value and respect books and to see them as something really special.


    I knew I had finally made some headway when Pinkalicious came out in the book order and I had 16 kids order it. I did the same for similar books that are higher quality literature than the character books. I think all my kids owned No David by the end of last year.
     
  30. MsWK

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    That's what we do, too. We don't buy the stuff, but if a parent brings it, we'll play with it or read it and then it goes in the "borrowing bin," for children to "check out" and use at home. Most of the time that stuff never really makes it back to the center anyway.
     
  31. Dzenna

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    Many of my students have annual passes to Disneyland and the children will go there monthly!! Most go during the school week because it is less crowded. The girls bring in the "Princess" books, backpacks, shoes, lunch boxes, hair barrettes, etc. Last year twin boys had a birthday party with a Jack Sparrow impersonator and that other pirate with the octopus face impersonator. Why 4 to 5 year olds would be familiar with PG-13 Movie characters is beyond me!!! Why not go to a museum, park, zoo instead of Disneyland!

    I have/read no books related to Disney, Dora, Sponge Bob, Cars, or any current movie or band.

    Talk about lost childhood! Okay, I'd better get off my soapbox now.
     
  32. PreTeacher

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    Thanks to everyone for all their responses. Lots of food for thought.

    I can see from some of the responses that this may be a sensitive issue to some parents so we will tread lightly (and use the idea of using the toy/book once and then put it away somewhere else).

    As far as wishlists - are most items on the wishlist things that can be bought anywhere, or do some of you have a 'school supply' catalog that you leave with the wishlist?
     
  33. tracykaliski

    tracykaliski Connoisseur

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    Oh my...there are SO many good children's books out there. Take a minute and go to either a bookstore or a the children's section of the library and you'll find TONS. I've been teaching for 23 years and I've never used character related books in my classroom.
     
  34. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    see that is a great way to validate the parent, get the home toys into homes and then have a perefectally explainable reason to not have that toy in the room for much longer. I still say thanks to my parents if they bring the tv items and I still make it look like we might play it. and we might even play it on "thank you day". but then after that it becomes a thing for if "we run out of things to do".

    Really, the parents don't send it here. We have parent in all the time to work and play and they see the children playing with tp tubes, corks, markers and so on-they are searching for things, just not tv things.
     
  35. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    my wish list items aren't from school supply stores, although much of that stuff you can find at target for short periods. My wish lists is full of things like plants for the garden, and kick balls. We have found though that they can find most of school discounts stuff at toys r us (learning toy aisle) and target-that is expensive though.
     
  36. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    The bulk of my wish list items are "recycled" materials, such as film canisters, toilet paper tubes, paper egg cartons, etc. Since I do work in a very impoverished area, this is something that the parents can do without spending money and still make a valuable contribution to the classroom.

    However, you can get most of the things we use regularly at Target or WalMart...glue sticks, markers, playdough, shovels for the sandbox, etc.
    Kim
     
  37. Dzenna

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    My "wish list" is a request for families to bring in any natural item for our science/nature center. Some items I have received are molted snake skins, lizard eggs, hummingbird nests, sea shells, drift wood, sea shells, acorns, a rabbit pelt, geodes, infertile cockatiel eggs, and rocks.

    These items are priceless to me!
     
  38. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Wow-that is great. I did have a parent who was dating a chemist and brought us beakers and tubes and stuff. I tell you our colored water mixing has never been so cool!!!!

    I love parents. I tell them that what ever they have, whatever they enjoy doing- that is what we need!!! it isn't about money-it is about knowing who we are and what we do with our time. my families-they aren't all parents-do really well.
     
  39. Dzenna

    Dzenna Groupie

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    I bet the children loved using the test tubes and beakers! I think it is so important for the children to be exposed to "real" tools. They feel like "real" scientists.

    One year, a parent (architect) came in to the class and spoke about his job. He brought in blueprints and small models for houses and told the kids how much he liked playing with blocks and Legos when he was their age. They children were intrigued. We put up the blueprints in the block area and provided graph paper and clip boards for future use. We had several children who reported they want to be architects after that visit.
     
  40. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    I bet I would want to be an architect too!!! Love families. We have one who us uber green-that is fine, not preachy just green. She came for earth day and then after the lesson (which pretty much consisted of playing outside, making bird feeders out of pop bottles and digging in the dirt for worms) the children started recycling and composting all on their own.
     
  41. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    slightly calmer rationalization

    I just wanted to say to everyone following the thread that I don't jump in and announce to the children who are in dress up (which is made up of scarves here of different fabrics and widths to build your own costume) that they can't be "Princess Aurora" but when they begin reciting lines from the movie to the mirror by themselves without playing with the others-then I ask if they can make a "new movie with aurora today-let's put the old one on pause".* So it isn't like I am a anti commericalism zelot-I just really like them to work together, use their brains and focus on the moment to the toy aisle.:whistle::whistle:
     

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