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Some issues linking research on children’s play and education: are they “only playing”

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Removing props affected the children’s play in certain ways but not in others. First, the nature of the themes and the use of objects in play was altered. Props tended to have a determining effect on the play themes chosen, with effects on object use being mixed. While the amount of representation with objects remained the same across conditions (using one object to represent another), children showed an increased reference to imaginary objects under the second condition. Apparently, when props did not exist they were freely invented by the children to fit the needs of their play; when objects were available, they were used as substitutes for other objects and guided the themes chosen.

The implications for curriculum are clear: certain objects available for play in a free play situation make the play less free. If we are in part attempting to foster symbolic representation through dramatic play opportunities, special care has to be given to the number and type of props may make the activity available to more children.

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Correspondence to Christine Chaillé.

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Chaillé, C., Young, P. Some issues linking research on children’s play and education: are they “only playing”. IJEC 12, 52–56 (1980).

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  • Early Childhood Educator
  • Free Play
  • Social Play
  • Pretend Play
  • Symbolic Play