CMNetwork E-bulletin: March 2015

    © Copyright M. Worthington & E. Carruthers 2012

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CONTEXT: Child-initiated play

Exploring symbols

Nursery: Elizabeth – 3 years 9 months

Elizabeth wrote symbols on paper: ‘I can’t tell you what I’m drawing. It’s a map. It’s a treasure map to find treasure in the sand pit, but not at nursery, at home in my sand pit. Where I signed, that is the buried treasure’ (pointing to an ‘x’ on the paper). ‘I can’t tell you anything because it’s a secret!’

Finding another sheet of paper Elizabeth began to make similar symbols. Pointing to them she explained,’ that says my name. That’s James’s name and his second name and his third name. James’s second name is Thomas. My mummy had also got a second name called Elizabeth. My daddy also has a second name. I think it’s Roy.’

In both examples many of Elizabeth’s graphic symbols appeared letter- and numeral-like, with the addition of crosses. In the second example she enclosed each symbol, and then drew a box around all of them. According to Machón this period of experimentation and expansion of graphic symbols ‘is undoubtedly the most important in the entire graphic development’ [emphasis added], (2013: 95).

Machón A (2013) Children’s Drawings: The Genesis and Nature of Graphic Representation. Madrid: Fibulas Publishers.

Taxonomy: Making meaning in child-initiated play

  • Explorations with symbols

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


New Publications - 2015:

Carruthers, E. (2015). Listening to children's mathematics in school. In Perry, B., A. MacDonald and A. Gervasoni. Eds. Mathematics and Transition to School: International Perspectives. Sydney, Australia: Springer

Worthington, M. (2015). Mathematics and the ecology of pretend play. In. J. Moyles. Editor. The Excellence of Play. 4th Edition. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Courses and Conferences

Courses and Conferences: 2014-2015

National Education News

BBC Education News
Guardian Education News
Independent Education News
Times Education Supplement (TES)


February 2015

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