Pretend sign created during collective family play: A cultural- historical study of a child’s scientific learning through everyday family play practices

Yijun Hao, Marilyn Fleer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


    Based on a cultural-historical perspective, where play is conceptualized as the creation of an imaginary situation, the study reported in this paper examines how parent–child playful interactions create shared imaginary situations for mediating scientific learning. The main focus of this paper is to reveal sign-mediated learning process through collectively participated family imaginary play. This study draws upon part of a broader research project, and in this paper we will focus on one 3-year-old child and his parents from a medium-sized city in Mainland China. The findings reveal that during collective family engagement, the pretend signs were not predetermined but were created, updated, and developed through sustained shared imaginary situations between parents and the child. A child’s scientific learning is supported and mediated as the pretend signs were formed and embedded with social meanings during parent–child play where the child’s reimagining of certain scientific phenomenon occurs. In this paper it is argued that a child’s playful learning can be analyzed as he or she is involved in the social practice of family play where the process of internal changes during reimagining appear as a form of self- regulation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)38-58
    Number of pages21
    JournalInternational Research in Early Childhood Education
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Early childhood education
    • cultural-historical
    • play
    • sign
    • family
    • scientific learning

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