Cultural-Historical and Activity Theories Informing Early Childhood Education

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    There are many theories that have informed early childhood education,including cultural-historical and activity theories. In this chapter, we present a discussion of cultural-historical and activity theories, beginning with the foundational logic that has informed both these theories – dialectical logic. We focus our discussion specifically on play and learning because this is the period of development being addressed by this handbook. Beginning with the original conception of play,learning and development proposed by Vygotsky, this chapter moves forward to the contemporary context of early childhood education, where we specifically illustrate key concepts from cultural-historical and activity theories through the research and theoretical writing of leading early childhood scholars. Cultural-historical concepts have been extensively used in the contemporary literature, as foundational for the key themes of: Play pedagogy; Pedagogical models that support the development of play; Play from the perspective of children; and Digital play. Together, these point to how cultural-historical concepts have been used by scholars to inform their work,as well as setting out the challenges and future directions in early childhood education.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationInternational Handbook of Early Childhood Education
    EditorsMarilyn Fleer, Bert van Oers
    Number of pages30
    ISBN (Electronic)9789402409277
    ISBN (Print)9789402409253
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Early childhood
    • Play
    • Learning
    • Development
    • Cultural-historical theory
    • Activity theory

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