CMNetwork E-bulletin: January 2016

    © Copyright M. Worthington & E. Carruthers 2012

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CONTEXT: in the nursery - Shereen, playing with pens

Shereen and Verast sat at opposite ends of a small table, each with a small notebook and felt-tip pen. Verast made purple marks and holding her notebook up said ‘That’s mashed potato.’ Shereen made marks with a red pen, held it up and announced ‘That’s fire.’

Young children sometimes attach meanings to their early marks after they have made them and in this instance, Shereen’s rapidly made marks appeared to suggest the flames of a fire to her. Shereen’s marks also characterise what Matthews (1999) refers to as ‘action representation’.

Such marks also offer semiotic potential (i.e. the possibility of signifying something other than the marks themselves), children often making a connection between the appearance of their marks and something they know in the real world. Worthington (2009) observed that young children’s symbol and signs in drawing points to a ‘natural history’ of their use that underpins all abstract symbolic languages.


  • Making meaning in social pretend play and imagination – graphicacy.

Gallery 7: The emergence of graphic symbols and texts in pretend play
Gallery 8: Children's graphic symbols and texts in self-initiated contexts.

Matthews, J. (1999). The Art of Childhood and Adolescence: The Construction of Meaning. London: Falmer Press.

Worthington, M. (2009) Fish in the water of culture: signs and symbols in young children’s drawing. The Psychology of Education Review, Vol. 33, No. 1, March 2009..

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Members of the Children’s Mathematics Network come from the four countries of the United Kingdom and from the following 36 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Czech Republic, Eire, France, Greece, Germany, Indo0nesia, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Turkey, USA, United Arab Emirates and Zambia. We currently have 963 members.

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In 2015 we had 118099 visits to the website. Of these Germany consistently had the greatest number of visits each month, with China, the UK, and the European Union following a close second. To date we have had visitors from a 186 countries around the world.


Publications - New in 2016:

Worthington, M. and Van Oers, B. (2015) Children’s social literacies: Meaning making and the emergence of graphical signs and texts in pretence. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy 16(1), 1-29.

Worthington, M. and Van Oers, B. (2016) Pretend Play and the cultural foundations of mathematics. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal 24 (1). 51-66.

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Courses and Conferences: 2015-2016

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