Exploring children's creative play with traditional and technological construction resources

Lorna Arnott, Deirdre Grogan, Pauline Duncan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper compares children's creative play with traditional and motorised (technological) construction resources. It draws on evidence from a recent pilot study that explores 3- to 5-year-old children's creativity with technologies in early years centres in Scotland. In doing so it responds to the apparent dearth of empirical knowledge about the link between creativity and children’s toys, resources and playroom artefacts. The work is grounded in Contextualism, which explores everyday practices in context. Children’s creativity was observed across two early educational settings over a three-month period. Manual and video observations, as well as traditional child-centred methods provided insights into children’s creative processes. Ethical approval was granted, informed consent was obtained from parents/guardians and practitioners and assent was inferred from children. Findings demonstrated that different types of construction resources, in our case natural/traditional versus motorised (technological), may shape how children use the resources, what is created, the likelihood of them seeking assistance, and their creative design. Children appeared to need an external stimulus to guide their creative play with motorised construction resource, related to the perceived ‘correct’ tangible output associated with these resources. Alternatively children using traditional/natural construction resources demonstrated greater instances of imagination, creating a wide range of outputs without any external stimulus required. The importance of deconstruction as a form of creative exploration offered a point of commonality between both kinds of resources. Thus, this paper explores how the affordances of these resources, as part of the learning environment, shaped children’s creative processes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2014
Event24th European Early Childhood Educational Research Association Conference - Greece, Crete, United Kingdom
Duration: 7 Sep 201410 Sep 2014


Conference24th European Early Childhood Educational Research Association Conference
Abbreviated titleEECERA
CountryUnited Kingdom


  • early years education
  • technology
  • creative play
  • toys
  • learning environments

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