This paper reports on the results of a study that investigated how teachers and young children engage in engineering practices in an early childhood classroom. As an educational experiment (Hedegaard, 2008), the study followed two teachers and two classes over one year as they designed motivating conditions for children's engineering play through storying (Robin Hood) and imaginary PlayWorlds (Fleer, 2018). How children (5 were aged 5.9 years; 5.5–6.4 years and 8 were aged 5.1 years; 4.7–5.5 years) were oriented to engineering practices and developed a motive orientation to engineering was studied and analysed using the cultural-historical concept of motives (Hedegaard, 2014). The findings show that teachers orient children to engineering thinking through creating motivating conditions. As children's engineering competence develop, the themes of child initiated play changes and ‘as if’ imaginary narratives become more complex with ‘as if’ engineering solutions. Free play becomes collective, play narratives align as children orient to each other in the common imaginary engineering play, and children appear to actively draw upon engineering concepts to deepen their play.
- Conceptual play
- Early childhood