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Bodrova, E. et al. (2013) Play and Self-Regulation: Lessons from Vygotsky (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The authors consider the analysis of the literature on play research by Lillard and others in the January 2013 "Psychological Bulletin," an analysis that questioned the prevailing assumption of a causal relationship between play and child development, especially in the areas of creativity, reasoning, executive function, and regulation of emotions. The authors regard these connections as critical for teachers in early-childhood classrooms and for other advocates of child play. They claim that the conclusions of Lillard and her coauthors place these professionals in a difficult position because they already face sharp pressure to replace play with academic activities. The authors suggest that the difficulty researchers have in linking play to development partly results from a failure to account for both cognitive and noncognitive developments across a complex trajectory. To help see the problem more clearly, they argue for a return to the Vygotskian and post-Vygotskian theories that differentiate between immature and mature play. The authors then describe their creation, an observational tool based on such theories, that helps researchers and practitioners judge the quality of pretend play.

Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
6
Page/s:
111-123
Synonyms:
  • Creativity
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Literature review
  • Metacognition
  • Pretend play
  • Self-regulation
  • Executive function
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Bretherton, I. (1989) Pretense: The form and function of make-believe play (Journal Article)

Abstract:

This paper proposes that make-believe play expresses the young child's emerging capacity to engage in counterfactual or would-be thinking. Three important developments enable preschoolers to create joint make-believe worlds with others: the ability to (1) manage multiple roles as playwrights and actors, (2) invent novel plots, and (3) deliberately blur the boundary between reality and pretense. Given that joint make-believe play turns out to be such a complex representational activity, the question about its function raises itself more insistently than ever. Of the many social and cognitive functions that have been proposed, emotional mastery is the only one that could not equally be exercised in nonpretend contexts. There is evidence, however, that in nonclinical settings the well-adjusted, secure children are most able to benefit from the opportunity for emotional mastery offered by sociodramatic play, whereas less-well-adjusted, insecure children are not. This has important implications for the design of play interventions.

Author/s:
Date:
January 1989
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
9
Page/s:
383-401
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Literature review
  • Pretend play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Brooker, L. et al. (2014) SAGE Handbook of Play and Learning in Early Childhood (Book)

Abstract:

'This Handbook offers diverse perspectives from scholars across the globe who help us see play in new ways. At the same time the basic nature of play gives a context for us to learn new theoretical frameworks and methods. A real gem!'
- Beth Graue, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, USA

Play and learning scholarship has developed considerably over the last decade, as has the recognition of its importance to children’s learning and development.

Containing chapters from highly respected researchers, whose work has been critical to building knowledge and expertise in the field, this Handbook focuses on examining historical, current and future research issues in play and learning scholarship.

Organized into three sections which consider:

theoretical and philosophical perspectives on play and learning
play in pedagogy, curriculum and assessment
play contexts.

The Handbook's breadth, clarity and rigor will make it essential reading for researchers and postgraduate students, as well as professionals with interest in this dynamic and changing field.

Liz Brooker is Reader in Early Childhood in the Faculty of Children and Learning at the Institute of Education, University of London.

Mindy Blaise is an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education in the Department of Early Childhood Education at the Hong Kong Institute of Education.

Susan Edwards is Associate Professor in Curriculum and Pedagogy at Australian Catholic University.

Date:
January 2014
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Cultural context
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Digital play
  • Learning
  • Outdoor play
  • Physical play
  • Play assessment
  • Playful learning
  • Playfulness
  • Playground
  • Pretend play

Bruce, T. et al. (2008) I made a unicorn. Open-ended play with blocks and simple materials (Report)

Abstract:

Open-ended play with blocks and simple materials

Although children's play just happens spontaneously, it is complex and comes in myriad forms.
One universal type is open-ended play, also known as free-flow play, in which the children themselves determine what to do, how to do it, and what to use. Open-ended means not having a fixed answer; unrestricted; allowing for future change. In the course of such play, children have no fear of doing it wrong since there is no correct method or outcome; and observant adults are privileged with insights into children's development and thinking.

Open-ended play is intrinsic to childhood; children have an impetus to explore and create. When free to experiment with the simplest materials, they find ways to express and develop their thoughts in imaginative play.

Date:
January 2008
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Free play
  • Learning
  • Object play
  • Outdoor play
  • Pretend play
  • Well-being outcomes
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Buchsbaum, D. (2013) Learning Causal Structure in Social, Statistical and Imagined Contexts (Thesis)

Abstract:

A major challenge children face is uncovering the causal structure of the world around them. Previous research on children’s causal inference has demonstrated their ability to learn about causal relationships in the physical environment using probabilistic evidence. However, children must also learn about causal relationships in the social environment, including discovering the causes of other people’s behavior, and understanding the causal relationships between others’ goal-directed actions and the outcomes of those actions. In addition, many of the causal relationships children experience do not occur in the physical world at all, but instead occur in richly causal imaginary worlds.

In this dissertation, we argue that social reasoning and causal reasoning are deeply linked, both in the real world and in children’s minds. Children use both types of information together and in fact reason about both physical and social causation in fundamentally similar ways. We suggest that children jointly construct and update causal theories about their social and physical environment and that this process is best captured by probabilistic models of cognition. We also argue that causal pretense may serve as a form of counterfactual causal reasoning, allowing children to explore causal “what if” scenarios in alternative imaginary worlds, and suggest a theoretical link between the development of an extended period of immaturity in human evolution and the emergence of powerful and wide-ranging causal
learning mechanisms.

We investigate the complex and varied ways in which children learn causal relationships through three primary lines of research, each of which extends probabilistic models beyond reasoning about purely physical causes, while also characterizing the distinctive aspects of causal pretense and social causal reasoning. In the first set of studies, we examine how causal learning can influence the understanding and segmentation of action, and how observed statistical structure in human action can affect causal inferences. We present a Bayesian analysis of how statistical and causal cues to segmentation should optimally be combined, as well as four experiments investigating human action segmentation and causal inference.
We find that both adults and our model are sensitive to statistical regularities and causal structure in continuous action, and are able to combine these sources of information in order to correctly infer both causal relationships and segmentation boundaries.

The second line of work examines how the social context influences children’s causal learning, focusing particularly on children’s imitation of causal actions. We define a Bayesian model that predicts children will decide whether to imitate part or all of an action sequence based on both the pattern of statistical evidence and the demonstrator’s pedagogical stance.
We conducted an experiment in which preschool children watched an experimenter repeatedly perform sequences of varying actions followed by an outcome. Children’s imitation of sequences that produced the outcome increased, in some cases resulting in production of shorter sequences of actions that the children had never seen performed in isolation. A second experiment established that children interpret the same statistical evidence differently when it comes from a knowledgeable teacher versus a naıve demonstrator, suggesting that children attend to both statistical and pedagogical evidence in deciding which actions to imitate, rather than obligately imitating successful action sequences.

The final line of work explores the relationship between children’s understanding of real-world causal structure and their pretend play. We report a study demonstrating a link between pretend play and counterfactual causal reasoning. Preschool children given new information about a causal system made very similar inferences both when they considered counterfactuals about the system and when they engaged in pretend play about it. Counterfactual cognition and causally coherent pretense were also significantly correlated even when age, general cognitive development and executive function were controlled for. These findings link a distinctive human form of childhood play and an equally distinctive human form of causal inference. We speculate that during human evolution computations that were initially reserved for particularly important ecological problems came to be used much more widely and extensively during the long period of protected immaturity.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Pretend play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Buchsbaum, D. et al. (2012) The power of possibility: causal learning, counterfactual reasoning, and pretend play (Journal Article)

Abstract:

We argue for a theoretical link between the development of an extended period of immaturity in human evolution and the emergence of powerful and wide-ranging causal learning mechanisms, specifically the use of causal models and Bayesian learning. We suggest that exploratory childhood learning, childhood play in particular, and causal cognition are closely connected. We report an empirical study demonstrating one such connection—a link between pretend play and counterfactual causal reasoning. Preschool children given new information about a causal system made very similar inferences both when they considered counterfactuals about the system and when they engaged in pretend play about it. Counterfactual cognition and causally coherent pretence were also significantly correlated even when age, general cognitive development and executive function were controlled for. These findings link a distinctive human form of childhood play and an equally distinctive human form of causal inference. We speculate that, during human evolution, computations that were initially reserved for solving particularly important ecological problems came to be used much more widely and extensively during the long period of protected immaturity.

Date:
January 2012
Volume:
367
Page/s:
2202-2212
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Pretend play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Bulotsky-Shearer, R. et al. (2012) Peer Play Interactions and Readiness to Learn: A Protective Influence for African American Preschool Children From Low-Income Households (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Guided by a strengths-based resiliency framework, this article reviews a body of research on the positive influence of interactive peer play for African American preschool children from low-income households. This literature provides evidence for positive associations among interactive peer play experiences at home and in school, and childrens early childhood social and academic skills. It presents the development and validation of three distinct dimensions of interactive peer play with African American children attending Head Start. It reviews research examining associations between these 3 dimensions and childrens academic and social outcomes, as well as evidence-based interventions designed to foster interactive peer play for this population. It highlights challenges and directions for future research, with emphasis on the likely research needed to extend our understanding of interactive peer play experiences for Latino and Asian American children and the complex mechanisms through which positive peer interactions during early childhood may support childrens early learning and development.

Date:
January 2012
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
6
Page/s:
225-231
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Cultural context
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Language
  • Literature review
  • Peers play
  • Pre-academic skills
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional
  • Socio-economic background
Relevant age group/s:

Byrne, R. (2016) Counterfactual Thought (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Please click on the link provided below to read the abstract.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2016
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
67
Page/s:
135-157
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Literature review
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Canning, N. (2013) "Where's the Bear? Over There!"--Creative Thinking and Imagination in Den Making (Journal Article)

Abstract:

This small scale research project examines opportunities for creative thinking and imagination through den making in a rural private day nursery with its own woodland area on the borders of England and Wales in the UK. The research is underpinned by sociocultural theory and is an ethnographic study of non-participant observations of children aged between three and four years old and early years practitioners involved in supporting their play. The focus is on children's creative play in peer social groups and examines the way in which children explore their environment and utilise their play space and resources to sustain imagination and creativity. The research considers how the environment and den-making context provides opportunities for possibility thinking [Craft, A. (2001). "Little c creativity." In A. Craft, B. Jeffrey, & M. Liebling (Eds.), "Creativity in education" (pp. 45-61). London: Continuum], where children are encouraged to explore "what if?" questions. The research explores the way in which an outdoor environment can support flexible opportunities and resources where children are able to engage in imaginative and creative play, develop their communication skills and build relationships with other children and adults. The research considers children's fascination with the story "bears in the wood" and how early years practitioners facilitated their creative thinking and imagination.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
183
Page/s:
1042-1053
Synonyms:
  • Creativity
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Free play
  • Outdoor play
  • Peers play
  • Playful learning
  • Pretend play
  • Qualitative methodology
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:

Cole, M. et al. (1978) The Role of Play in Development (Book Section)

Abstract:

The great Russian psychologist L. S. Vygotsky has long been recognized as a pioneer in developmental psychology. But his theory of development has never been well understood in the West. Mind in Society corrects much of this misunderstanding. Carefully edited by a group of outstanding Vygotsky scholars, the book presents a unique selection of Vygotsky's important essays.

Date:
January 1978
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
92-104
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Learning
  • Peers play
  • Pretend play
  • Self-regulation
  • Social play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline: