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3D Thinking: Primary school children representing ideas and narratives within constructional and pretence play

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3D Thinking: Primary school children representing ideas and narratives within constructional and pretence play

David Whitebread & Marisol Basilio University of Cambridge, UK

The Play, Learning and Narrative Skills (PLaNS) project is a collaborative research study between the Faculty of Education, the Lego Foundation and three local Cambridge primary schools. The overall aim of this study is to investigate the contribution made by construction and pretend play experiences to 5-10 year old children’s developing oral and fictional and non-fictional writing abilities.

In earlier studies, we have found that providing a playful, problem-solving context results in significantly better structured and more creative writing, and in enhanced metacognitive and self-regulatory skills, both of which are well-established as core skills impacting extensively on academic achievement and general well-being.

In order to investigate these issues further, the PLaNS intervention is being carried out over one school year with children in 3 age groups through the primary years. The 108 children in the study are undertaking guided play activities, involving ‘small-world’ constructional and pretence play. The use of Lego sets to facilitate 3-D representations affords the opportunity for movement and change as the construction or story is discussed and built.

In this talk we will present examples of the children’s playful activity during these tasks, of the self-directed and dialogic talk they engender, and their support for metacognitive and self-regulatory skills. We will also present examples of the children’s own reflections on using ‘small world’ constructional toys to support their thinking and narrative skills.

Profile Dr. David Whitebread is the Principal Investigator of the project and Marisol Basilio is the Research Associate, both based in the Faculty of Education. Dr. Whitebread is a developmental psychologist and early childhood education specialist, who has written extensively about the role of play and playfulness in children’s development, particularly in relation to early metacognitive and self-regulatory abilities, and the implications for early childhood education. Marisol Basilio is currently completing a PhD concerned with the role of pre-verbal communicative tools in the early emergence of self-regulation.

This talk is part of the Psychology & Education series.

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