Exploring the pedagogic culture of creative play in early childhood education

Lorna Arnott, Pauline Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


We present a conceptual analysis, grounded in empirical data, of how young children's creative play is framed by the 'pedagogic culture' within which the child is playing. Drawing on data from a research study with the broad aim of documenting children's creative play in Western play-based early childhood education, we gathered exploratory qualitative observations, self-initiated iPad video diaries and researcher-led activities to describe children's creative play. We adapted the Analysing Children's Creative Thinking Framework as a starting point for coding and the analyses focused on three contextual cues within the pedagogic culture – space, interpersonal collaborations and materials. We ground our discussion in a contextualist theoretical frame to demonstrate that in isolation, each contextual cue presents a degree of framing to children's creative play. When analysed as a synergy of contextual cues, however, we begin to see that the dynamic make-up of each of the contexts, and the interplay among them, create a 'pedagogic culture' that transforms children's creative play. We present 'stories' of each pedagogic culture that we observed, to describe how children's creative play manifested within each culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-328
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Early Childhood Research
Issue number4
Early online date23 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • early childhood
  • pedagogy
  • digital technology
  • play
  • creativity
  • early years education


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