A cultural-historical study of how a conceptual playworld creates conditions for personally meaningful mathematics in the Chinese kindergarten context

Yuwen Ma, Marilyn Fleer, Liang Li, Yuejiu Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Previous studies have emphasised that play can promote children’s learning of mathematics. However, little research has been directed towards understanding how collective imaginary play motivates children's mathematical learning. Informed by the cultural-historical conception of play and motives, this paper examines how Conceptual PlayWorld (CPW) creates conditions for Chinese children's meaningful mathematical learning using the concept of repeating patterns as an example. Video observations of teachers interacting with children (4–5 years) during the CPW implementation (8.54 h), as well as children's interviews (5.75 h), were gathered and analysed. Following the focus child Zeng's motives and intentions but all children's experiences in the CPW, the findings show CPW appears to create mathematical conditions that promote thinking, imagining and play. Zeng's motives for mathematical learning are stimulated by his play motives which are amplified through his active participation and problem-solving in a CPW, and this creates conditions for his personally meaningful learning of mathematics in the Chinese kindergarten context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)850-865
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Early Childhood Education Research Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Chinese kindergarten
  • mathematics
  • Meaningful learning
  • playworld
  • repeating pattern

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