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Pretend play in the early childhood classroom: this column presents and summarizes recent resources related to pretend play in the early childhood classroom.


CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVES ON PLAY IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION. Olivia N. Saracho & Bernard Spodek, Eds., 2003. 195 pp. (Available from: Information Age Publishing, Greenwich, CT; This volume presents a review and critical analysis of research and theoretical knowledge on the play of young children. Following an introduction on the historical antecedents of early childhood play, the chapters reflect a range of philosophies on various aspects of children's play. Each chapter includes a review of research and theory, implications for practice, and references.

SUPPORTING DRAMA AND IMAGINATIVE PLAY IN THE EARLY YEARS. Lesley Hendy & Lucy Toon, 2001. 171 pp. (Available from: Open University Press, Philadelphia; Written for the wide range of practitioners working with young children, this book offers guidance on both the theory and the practical management of drama in the early years. It emphasizes the relationship between pretend play and the cognitive and affective development of young children, and highlights children's need to experience high-quality talk and their engagement in narrative through story making. The book concludes by highlighting the potential of drama to engage children in different kinds of talk and contrasting forms of thinking.

Journal Articles

MAKE-BELIEVE PLAY VERSUS ACADEMIC SKILLS: A Vygotskian Approach to Today's Dilemma of Early Childhood Education. Elena Bodrova. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal Vol. 16, No. 3 (2008): 357-369. The article focuses on the Vygotskian approach to high-quality early childhood education in light of the challenges facing early childhood educators in Russia and in the West. One of these challenges is the constant pressure to start teaching academic skills at a progressively younger age at the expense of traditional early childhood activities. A Vygotskian approach suggests that young children can master necessary prerequisites of academic skills through engagement in mature make-believe play. The article emphasizes the need for adult scaffolding of play in the current social context and discusses strategies for such scaffolding.

DRAMATIC PLAY: Bring It Back. Tammy Benson. Texas Child Care, Vol. 32, No. 2 (2008): 24-31. Research is abundant on the positive effects of play on children's development. Play is often underestimated for its unique way of positively influencing physical, cognitive, and psychosocial development. Dramatic play also contributes to children's development of values.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAY IN PROMOTING HEALTHY CHILD DEVELOPMENT AND MAINTAINING STRONG PARENT-CHILD BONDS. Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD. Pediatrics, Vol. 119, No. 1 (January 2007): 182-191. Available at cgi/content/full/pediatrics;119/1/182. Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. This report addresses a variety of factors that have reduced time children spend in play, including a hurried lifestyle, changes in family structure, and increased attention to academics and enrichment activities at the expense of recess or free child-centered play.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAY: Why Children Need To Play. Elena Bodrova & Deborah J. Leong. Early Childhood Today, Vol. 20, No. 1 (2005): 6-7. In this article, the authors discuss the important role of dramatic ("pretend") play in early childhood with the increasing emphasis at school on developing academic skills in children at younger and younger ages. Play that has a potential for fostering many areas of young children's social and cognitive development has the following characteristics: children create a pretend scenario by negotiating and talking with peers, and they use props in a symbolic way; and children create specific roles--and rules--for pretend behavior, and they adopt multiple themes and multiple roles. Early childhood classrooms provide a unique setting to foster the kind of dramatic play that will lead to cognitive and social maturity.

PRESCHOOLERS' EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE: Links to Pretend and Physical Play. Eric W. Lindsey & Malinda J. Colwell. Child Study Journal, Vol. 33, No. 1 (2003): 39-52. These researchers examined associations between preschoolers' play and emotional competence with peers. They found that emotion regulation and emotion understanding made unique contributions to teacher ratings of children's emotional competence with peers. High pretend play levels related to high emotion understanding for both boys and girls, and high emotion regulation and emotional competence with peers for girls only. Physical play related to boys', but not girls', emotional competence with peers.

MAKING SENSE OF OUTDOOR PRETEND PLAY. Jane P. Perry. Young Children, Vol. 58, No. 3 (2003): 26-30. This author focuses on the independent outdoor pretend play of preschool children. She describes the complex learning occurring in a university child study center's play yard and in outdoor learning centers, how teachers complement children's play, and the importance of space. The discussion illustrates the pattern of pretend play: initiation, negotiation, and enactment.

CHOPSTICKS AND COUNTING CHIPS: Do Play and Foundational Skills Need To Compete for the Teacher's Attention in an Early Childhood Classroom? Elena Bodrova & Deborah J. Leong. Young Children, Vol. 58, No. 3 (2003): 10-17. These authors describe negative contributors to young children's pretend play development and how early childhood educators can support both play development and foundational skills. They identify ways that play influences development and contributes to children's ability to profit from academic activities. They offer suggestions for helping children create an imaginary situation, act out various roles, and extend their play, asserting that through mature play, children learn foundational skills preparing them for academic challenges.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING PLAYFUL. Elena Bodrova & Debo rah J. Leong. Educational Leadership, Vol. 60, No. 7 (2003): 50-53. Recent research provides evidence of the strong connections between quality of play in preschool years and children's readiness for school instruction. Mature play, characterized by imaginary situations, multiple roles, clearly defined rules, flexible themes, language development, and length of play, helps students' cognitive development.

CHILDREN'S PLAY IS THE ORIGIN OF SOCIAL ACTIVITY. Monika Riihela. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, Vol. 10, No. 1 (2002): 39-53. To study children's thoughts and collaborative behavior, the researchers videotaped 1- to 6-year-olds' child care routines and adults' work after extensive consultation on the Story-crafting method. They found that children's viewpoints are elicited when they play an active role and when educational work is directed by telling stories, playing, and doing research.

WHY PLAY? Martha Torrence. Montessori Life, Vol. 13, No. 3 (2001): 20-21. This article discusses the importance of pretend play for various aspects of children's development and the difficulty for adults, especially Montessorians, in understanding such play. It presents views of leading play researchers and theorists regarding the role of play in distinguishing fantasy from reality, in acting as a springboard to representational thought, and in interpreting the world and expressing the self.

INTRODUCTION TO THE SPECIAL SECTION ON DRAMATIC PLAY. Jean Mendoza & Lilian G. Katz. Early Childhood Research & Practice, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Fall 2008). http://ecrp. This special section of the journal features two practitioner perspectives on children's involvement in dramatic play: "Fixing Puppets So They Can Talk": Puppets and Puppet Making in a Classroom of Preschoolers With Special Needs and At the Zoo: Kindergartners Reinvent a Dramatic Play Area. Dramatic play, socio-dramatic play, symbolic play, pretend play--these varied terms describe interrelated phenomena well known to those who work with young children. The vital importance of such play is widely accepted among child development specialists and early childhood practitioners.

LOOKING AT PLAY THE HEALTHY WAY: Imaginative Play Helps Teach Self-Regulation Skills. National Institute for Early Education Research. (2008). http:// Child's play--particularly the kind that children do when they pretend, play roles, and negotiate among themselves--is something that experts say is vital to healthy development. It is also increasingly threatened in a world dominated by media, electronic toys, a push for academic learning at younger ages, and lifestyles that provide children with little freedom or inclination to play with the neighborhood kids.

HOW DRAMATIC PLAY CAN ENHANCE LEARNING. Marie E. Cecchini. EarlychildhoodNEWS. (2007). www.earlychildhoodnews. com/earlychildhood/article_view. aspx?ArticleID=751. Dramatic play can be defined as play in which children accept and assign roles, and then act them out. It is a time when they break through the walls of reality, pretend to be someone or something different from themselves, and dramatize situations and actions to go along with the roles they have chosen to play. While this type of play may be viewed as frivolous by some, it remains an integral part of the developmental learning process as it allows children to develop skills in such areas as abstract thinking, literacy, math, and social studies, in a timely, natural manner.

THE ROLE OF PRETEND PLAY IN CHILDREN'S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT. Doris Bergen. Early Childhood Research & Practice, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Spring 2002). http://ecrp. This article defines the cluster of concepts related to pretend play and cognition and briefly synthesizes the latest research on the role of such play in children's cognitive, social, and academic development. The article notes that a growing body of evidence exists to suggest that high-quality pretend play is an important facilitator of perspective taking and later abstract thought, that it may facilitate higher-level cognition, and that pretend play and social and linguistic competence are clearly linked.

COGNITIVE AND LANGUAGE ACTIVITY IN PLAY. In Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers (pp. 217-218). Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (2000). php?record_id=9745&page=217. Play can provide an important opportunity for children to practice self-regulation. It often takes place with other children and involves the teacher's provisions of an appropriate physical context and time for play. It can involve group or individual intervention to support rule-governed play and to help children plan for play.

CREATIVE PLAY INCREASES CHILDREN'S SELF-REGULATION: A Convergence of Clinical and Educational Considerations. Gail A. Hasbrouck. International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology. (2008). www.iacep. The author cites a growing body of research to emphasize how imaginative play is crucial to the development of children's ability to regulate their own behavior. She refers to a 2007 American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report concluding that creative play increases children's problem solving and resiliency and establishes an emotional and cognitive foundation for lifelong learning. Studies that have compared different kinds of play and the amount of private speech that occurs found that self-regulating language is highest during make-believe play.

The Early Childhood and Parenting (ECAP) Collaborative contributed this column. Further information on ECAP projects is available from ECAP, Children's Research Center, University of Illinois, 51 Gerry Drive, Champaign, IL 61820-7469; phone: 877-275-3227 or 217-333-1386; email:; URL:
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Title Annotation:ecap report
Author:McEntire, Nancy
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Recommended readings
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2009
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