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Play + Literacy= Language Development

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Lauren Smith

on 8 May 2014

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Transcript of Play + Literacy= Language Development

What is Literacy?
"The ability to interpret and understand messages relayed from others as means to communicate" (Mielonen & Paterson (2009).
Recent Studies
Multiple types of studies such as case studies, experimental research studies and formative and design experimental research, have indicated the effects of play on literacy development.

What is Play?
According to Burghardt (2011) play consists of five components...
Play + Literacy= Language Development
The behavior is...
1. Not fully functional in the form or context in which it is expressed
2. Spontaneous, voluntary, intentional, pleasurable, rewarding, reinforcing, or autotelic (done for it's own sake)
3. Incomplete, exaggerated, awkward, precocious, or even involved behavior with patterns with modified form, sequencing or targeting
4. Performed repeatedly in a similar, but not rigidly stereotyped form.
5. Initiated when an animal (or person) is adequately fed, clothed, healthy, and not under stress
Roskos & Christie (2011)
What does it look like?
-Piaget believed play to be an imbalanced state in which assimilation trumps accommodation
Assimilation: incorporating new information into existing cognitive structures
Accommodation: modifying existing cognitive structures to match, imitate or otherwise conform with the reality of the physical world
Specific Cognitive Strategies
Pretense (play) involves representing multiple views, emotions, and thoughts, all of which suggest the participants have mental representation abilities (Bergin, 2002).
Cognitive strategies such as joint planning, negotiation problem solving, and goal seeking are evident during play (Bergin, 2002).
Theory of Mind develops around the age of 4 and 5, however children under the age of four are able to joint plan and role play indicating the ability to take on a different perspective (Bergin, 2002)
A major importance of cognitive development is "identifying with the perspectives of others" while being able to use specific language to "communicate mental states and intensions" (Dickinson, 2013).
The nexus is that core space where play, language and early literacy converge and interact"
-This new lens is built on the beliefs of well known theorists along with new research
Roskos & Christie (2011)
Thus; play is an opportunity to reinterpret experience and to practice emerging skills
Vygotsky believed "Pretend play stimulates meaning-driven thinking (cued by ideas) that overrides object-driven thinking (cued by the immediate environment) to stimulate change in how thought is organized" (Roskos & Christie, 2011, p. 209)
Play is a "particular feature of the preschool age"
Vygotsky proposed that there was a specific time (preschool) where play was essential to the development of abstract thinking, self awareness and self regulation, all of which contribute to cognitive development
(Christie and Roskos, 2006).
Play-Literacy Nexus
(Roskos & Christie, 2011, p. 209)
Simply defined: Voluntary engagement in enjoyable activities (Mielonen & Paterson 2009).
"The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) recognized that play is a central component of developmentally appropriate practice and a vehicle for developing language, cognition, and social competence" (Han, Moore, Vukelick & Buell, 2010, p. 83). However, play has not yet been considered a scientific method.
Here are the facts...
Specific Skills Gained Through Play
Many studies on literacy skill development through play have indicated "increases in children's use of literacy materials and engagement in literacy acts" (Bergin, 2002)
"Both pretend play and language involve symbolic relationships...children must make intentional use of lexical and syntactical features of language" in order to participate in sociodramatic play (Christie & Roskos, 2006).
Word play involved with activities such as engaging with nursery rhymes is a strong predictor of children's phonlological awareness (Christie & Roskos)
Reading and writing materials related to theme that are readily available increase the engagement of reading and writing during play (Christie & Roskos, 2006).
"Sociodramatic play and thematic fantasy play helped preschool children connect separate events into logical sequences (Christie & Roskos, 2006, p 14).
Conversational and strategic skills develop when negotiating play with peers in preschool (Ervin-Tripp, 1991).
Peer interaction may aid in loss of ego centrism which is necessary for the development of ToM (Ervin-Tripp, 1991)
ToM begins developing at age two and is a gradual development up to age 6. Joint attention with peers and adults aides in the ability to recognize different points of view (Bergin, 2002).
Through scaffolding by adults, peers or personal knowledge, play enhances children's narratives (Han, Moore, Vukelick & Buell, 2010)
Sociodramatic play "develops knowledge about the motives and feelings of characters, and they [children] become alert to prototypical roles found in storybooks" (Han et all., 2010, p, 213).
Major shifts in policy that have resulted in decline of play in the classroom can be attributed to scientifically based research and the standards movement (Christie & Roskos 2006).
Scientific studies have proven methods of direct teaching of alphabet, number and color among other skills to be proficient even though cognitive skills present in play are just as important (Bergin, 2002).
"There are clear connections between play and language and cognition development, however it is still unclear if play has a causal effect" (Bergin, 2002, p. 3).
Because play is fluid, flexible, and unpredictable it may be difficult to systematically control the process in developing skill sets (Christie & Roskos, 2006).
"Teachers feel a tension between supporting children's emotional growth through warm and supportive relationships and teaching children information and skills" (Dickinson, 2013).
What do the studies suggest?
A shift towards "blended" curricula:
i. Blended Early Literacy Programs
-combines direction instruction and related play activities
ii. Improved Teacher Education
-increase teacher education on the relationships between play, literacy learning, and standards
iii. Increase Play Advocacy:
-parents should be aware of the value of play
-clearly document learning that occurs during classroom play
How do Classroom Teachers do This?
When organizing the classroom, take these three design principles into consideration:
Additional Suggestions
Create a literacy rich environment that sets up opportunities for children to interact with peers comfortably through the multimodal literacy engagements (Mielonen & Paterson, 2009).
Introduce adult interaction (parents and/or teachers)

-"Playful learning with adults contributes to the acquisition of literacy skills" (Han et al. 2010, p. 88).
1. Definition- clearly define play settings from one another using furniture and/or print
2. Adaptation- morph typical settings to reflect real-life contexts
3. Familiarity- supply prototypical literacy materials such as photography, clay, and instruments to offer different modes of expression and communication
(Wilson, 2008)
Early Literacy
Early literacy (or emergent literacy) begins at birth where literacy "emerges" from the world around the child.

The environment in our society is rich in literacy that children are exposed to almost constantly.
, children are exposed to and often engaged in literacy such as:
, children are exposed to and often engaged in literacy such as:
caregivers language
adult conversation
peer conversation
Bennett-Armistead (2005)
Christie & Roskos (2006)
-During play where children take on the role of a character, cognitive thinking contributes to their ability to take on the feelings and motives of a character.
-Play-Literacy relationships can be considered "webs of developing skills and activities". As a multiple skills lens, play and literacy can be seen developing simultaneously.
The Relationship
-Through this kind of play, narrative structures develop such as "formulating, organizing, and sustaining a story problem and plot episodes" (Roskos & Christie, 2011, p. 213).
(Roskos & Christie, 2011, p. 211).
How to "Plan" Play
The use of cognitive skills with play can be encouraged through the previously mentioned activity of sociodramatic play.
Sociodramatic play can be "planned" by making certain props/forms of print/technology readily available. Sociodramatic play is about the process not the product, meaning there are no boundaries as to where the children can go with their imagination (Kiefer & Tyson, 2010)
Example Scenario:
After reading Little Red Ridding Hood, provide the following in a specific play area:

Red Cape
Note paper to make a list for Grandma's
a blank map
Wolf mask/costume
Bonnet (grandma's)
Woodsman outfit
Safe toy ax
Little Red Ridding Hood book
Students will be able to:
engage in a joint action activity
recreate the story or a specific scene
negotiate rules with peers
interpret and practice the language from the text
represent the views of the characters in the story mentally and physically
recall events from a story (in sequential order
engage with print materials to support ideas and communicate
Although play has not been named a scientific method it is clear that there is a profuse amount of research and study devoted to the relationship between literacy and play. Not only does play help with the development of language acquisition, but also cognitive development, social skills, and literacy knowledge, among others.
(Bennett-Armistead, 2005; Bergin, 2002; Han, 2010; Roskos, 2006; Kiefer, 2010)
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