Make‐believe play with the Internet of Toys: a case for multimodal playscapes

Ioanna Palaiologou, Sarika Kewalramani, Maria Dardanou

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    This study examines whether the Internet of Toys (IoToys) (de)limits children's make-believe play and whether the functionality and manipulatives offered by the IoToys serve as motivational pleasure (tactile, virtual and visual) for children to engage in make-believe play. Combining Piagetian and Vygotskian ideas of play as a unity of cognition and social context, we consider IoToys as a motivational conduit for children's symbolic actions that leads to make-believe play. Qualitative methodology was employed using observations of young children at home when interacting with IoToys (total n = 10 families) from England (n = 5 families) and Australia (n = 5 families). Data showed that children's interaction does not limit the development of their make-believe play as they engage in imitation schemata and create imaginative situations within and beyond the intended pre-programmed functions of the IoToy. To conclude, it is argued that instead of differentiating virtual and physical play, we should (re)think play with multimodal playscape lenses. Practitioner notes What is already known about this topic Children from a very young age engage with mainly touch screen technology and this engagement has led to the discourse of digital play inquiries. When children use technology, they create imaginary situations that leads to make-believe play. What this paper adds Research on the haptic technologies is still in an embryonic stage. Thus, this paper aims to examine how children engage with this new developing technology in home-based settings. The findings of our research suggest that when haptic technological tools are used by children, this leads to make-believe play using physical and virtual spaces as a continuum of child's learning and development. Implications for practice and/or policy As children's interactions with haptic technologies showed that they exhibit motivated actions and psychologically triggered interactions, this calls for parent-educator partnerships to foster a pedagogy that embeds a poly-pronged approach (digital, virtual, visual, physical) which enhances children's multimodal playscapes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2100-2117
    Number of pages18
    JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


    • early childhood
    • Internet of Toys
    • make-believe play
    • multimodal playscapes
    • technologies

    Cite this