If you've talked to Sam for even a few minutes, or read only one or two of my blog posts, you know that Sam loves Super Heroes. I laugh about his obsession, but obviously Brad and I have encouraged it, otherwise it wouldn't be quite so apparent (and we wouldn't own every.super.hero.toy.ever. You're welcome, Imaginext.). But in all honesty, we think his love of Super Heroes have actually really encouraged his learning.
The most basic way is how super heroes lend themselves to imaginary play. He sets up scenarios for his guys and acts them out (both with his guys, and also with himself "being" batman, etc.). The small characters are good for his fine motor skills.
It has evolved a little further to now include organizing his guys according to which members are in the Justice League, which ones are in the Avengers, which ones are friends, which ones are enemies, where they live, what they eat... Here is the Justice League:
Sam has always been a talker, but I fully believe his interest in super heroes helped increase the words he knew at a young age. This video is from about a year ago (Sam was just over 2 years old). His pronunciation cracks me up, and I can't believe how much he's improved in a year. (And I have no idea why the video is sideways, probably because I didn't know how to use my phone at the time?!)
Super heroes have also helped Sam learn more adjectives. Using the Batman toys in the picture, Sam practices describing the Batmans (Batmen??) by colors, sizes, and emotions (some of them are smiling, some are not - so some are happy, some are mad, obviously).
Super Heroes has increased Sam's interest in reading. He likes reading all sorts of books, but is especially interested in super hero books. We have a lot of them, but also go to the library to check out new ones almost every week. Sam practices "reading" them and has memorized many of his favorites.
Some of his favorites are:
Lately, Sam has been interested in letters and asks us what letters are in different names. The super heroes allow of us to practice his letters, too! Here he is using his matching cards (we bought them from Target for under $5), stamping the first letter of the name, and then matching the "guy." We're starting to talk about letter sounds too. Sam already knows the B and S (for Batman and Superman of course), and is quickly picking up the rest - especially if a super hero is involved!
So, yes, Sam has an overeager obsession and love of all things super heroes... but he's learning a few things because of it. :)