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Isaac and the
teacher Emma bought a small safe
into the nursery to support Isaac’s
interest and for other the children
to investigate. A few days later she
observed Isaac and Jayden’s pretend
play, rich in mathematics…
several days of complex play with
their ‘safe’, Isaac decided to write
down the number of blocks being
taken from the block area, saying
‘one, two, three, gone! Gotta write
it down and put it in the safe.’
addition to his curving lines and
scribble-marks Isaac had written a
cross and a circle.
supportive settings young children
experience an explosion of interest
in graphical symbols (Worthington
and van Oers, 2015). Machón, (2013)
highlights how between the ages of
three to four years of age the
children had begun to use specific
graphical symbols, something that
Isaac had begun to explore here.
Machón, A. (2013) Children’s
Drawings: The Genesis and Nature of
Graphic Representation. Madrid:
Worthington, M. and van Oers, B.
(2015 / 2017) Children’s social
literacies: Meaning making and the
emergence of graphical signs and
texts in pretence. Journal of
Early Childhood Literacy, 17(2)
the full observation of this play
narrative see: Worthington, M. 2015.
Mathematics and the ecology of
pretend play. In J. Moyles, Editor.
The Excellence of Play. 4th
Edition. Maidenhead: Open University
- this example
The emergence of graphic symbols and
texts in pretend play
Children's graphic symbols and texts
in self-initiated contexts.
New! Worthington, M. (2017)
and symbolic meanings: from pretend play to problem solving. In J. Moyles, J. Payler and J. Georgeson.
(Eds.) Beginning Teaching, Beginning Learning: In Early
Years and Primary Education 5e. Maidenhead: Open
(ongoing): Collaboration between the BERA Early
Years Special Interest Group (SIG) and TACTYC to
produce some briefing
papers to inform early years policies and practices.
This has several parts and, as one document,
distribution to all those in government and
elsewhere concerned with young children and their
early education and care has begun. The papers also
incorporate a research agenda to guide future
scholarship in the field.
BERA / TACTYC Early Years Policy Advice:
Play and Pedagogy. Other sections can be
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.
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.
Carruthers, E. (2015).
Listening to children's mathematics in school.
In B. Perry., A. Gervasoni and A. MacDonald. Eds.
Mathematics and Transition to School - International
Perspectives. Sydney, Australia: Springer.
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