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Definition

Semiotic play involves playing with the means of representing and communicating meaning (for example, spoken and written language, drawing, music). This includes babbling, wordplay, mark-making, scribbling, doodling, playing with sounds, rhythms and instruments.

See also: Humour

Baumer, S. et al. (2005) Promoting narrative competence through adult–child joint pretense: Lessons from the Scandinavian educational practice of playworld (Journal Article)

Abstract:

This paper examines the effects of the playworld educational practice on the development of narrative competence in 5- to 7-year-old children. The playworld educational practice is derived from play pedagogy and the theory of narrative learning, both developed and implemented in Scandinavia. The playworld practice consists of joint adult–child pretense based in a work of children's literature, discussion, free play, and visual art production. When compared to children under a control intervention (conventional school practices without pretend play), children who participated in the playworld practice show significant improvements in narrative length, coherence, and comprehension, although not in linguistic complexity. These findings provide further evidence concerning the role of pretense in the narrative development of young children.

Date:
January 2005
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
20
Page/s:
576-590
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Literacy
  • Pedagogy
  • Playful learning
  • Pretend play
  • Semiotic play
  • Teacher/caregiver play
Relevant age group/s:

Dansereau, D. (2015) Young Children's Interactions with Sound-Producing Objects (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to observe, analyze, and document the range of young children's interactions with sound-producing objects in order to better understand the nature of such interactions. Of particular interest was whether theories of cognitive play, social play, object play, and existing research on musical play could guide concurrently the interpretation of children's interactions with these objects and whether the interactions were consistent with these theories. Two groups of participants, nine 3-year-old children and seven 4-year-old children, played with sound-producing objects for approximately 15 min once a week for 12 weeks. Participants interacted with the objects in rich and varied ways, including explorations of the objects' sound-producing capabilities and other physical attributes, nonmusical and musical functional and pretend play episodes, and construction behaviors. Movement and singing often were layered upon the children's interactions with the objects. Musical functional play was the most frequently observed behavior across both ages of participants. The children were more likely to engage in solitary/parallel behaviors than group interactions, and group interactions were more common among the 4-year-old children than the 3-year-olds. All behaviors that were anticipated via the conceptual framework were observed, with the exception of group nonmusic exploration.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2015
Volume:
63
Page/s:
28-46
Synonyms:
  • Exploratory play
  • Functional play
  • Musical play
  • Peers play
  • Play assessment
  • Pretend play
  • Semiotic play
  • Solitary play
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:

Fein, G. (1989) Mind, meaning, and affect: Proposals for a theory of pretense (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The present paper develops a theoretical framework for the study of pretense as a symbolic system designed to serve affective functions. The first part of the paper presents a review of three theories which acknowledge the affective function of pretense and constitute the background for the theory proposed in this paper. The second part of the paper presents an affective theory to analyze children's spontaneously generated pretend protocols. A study is then summarized as an illustration of the affective theory and directions for future research are noted.

Author/s:
Date:
January 1989
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
9
Page/s:
345-363
Synonyms:
  • Affective behaviour
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Literature review
  • Pretend play
  • Semiotic play
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Foundation, . (2015) Building children's writing skills through learning through play (Video Recording)

Abstract:

The University of Cambridge and the LEGO Foundation has explored how learning through play helps children develop better writing skills.

You can read about the project in more detail here: https://goo.gl/Wk9aef

Author/s:
Date:
January 2015
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Literacy
  • Object play
  • Pretend play
  • Semiotic play
  • Social play
  • Symbolic play
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:

Foundation, . (2015) What is Play? Play experts revealing their secrets... (Film)

Abstract:

Adults talk a lot about play, pretending they know what it is and what it's good for. We have asked a couple of real experts about what it is and what it feels…

What is Play? Play experts revealing their secrets... from LEGO Foundation on Vimeo.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2015
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Object play
  • Physical play
  • Rough and tumble
  • Semiotic play
  • Symbolic play
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

McCune, L. et al. (2015) Dynamic systems in semiotic development: The transition to reference (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Semiotic development involves the development of at least two different kinds of meaning: intersubjective and representational. By attending to these two kinds of meaning we are able to predict one of the major transitions in early childhood: the transition to reference. From a dynamic systems perspective we track essential developments which, when all have reached critical values, prompt the transition to referential word production and/or comprehension in the first half of the second year of life. We present the background of the four variables included in the model: (a) representational play, (b) vocalization ability, (c) gesture, and (d) developments in autonomic vocalization culminating in communicative grunts. We further demonstrate their efficacy in predicting the transition in a longitudinal sample of 10 children. Additional study is needed to confirm the role of these developments and to extend the approach to languages other than English and more advanced levels of semiotic development.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2015
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
36
Page/s:
161-170
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Exploratory play
  • Language
  • Longitudinal
  • Semiotic play
  • Symbolic play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

McInnes, K. et al. (2009) Behavioural differences exhibited by children when practising a task under formal and playful conditions (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Play is viewed as central to learning in the early years despite a lack of empirical evidence to support this. Most research has concentrated on adult definitions of play which fail to capture the intrinsic quality of playfulness. To achieve this it is necessary to elicit children's definitions of play. The research discussed in this paper utilises children's definitions of play to create formal and playful practice conditions to demonstrate the links between playfulness and learning. In addition, analysis of videotaped observations indicates behavioural differences according to whether children participate in playful or formal practice conditions. These findings support a behavioural threshold and fluency theory of play. Children in the playful condition exhibited more fluent and purposeful problem solving behaviours than children in the formal condition. Implications for practitioners in educational settings are outlined.

Date:
January 2009
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
26
Page/s:
31-39
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Cooperative play
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Engagement
  • Games with rules
  • Learning
  • Object play
  • Playfulness
  • Problem-solving
  • Self-regulation
  • Semiotic play
  • Social-emotional
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:

PEDAL, . et al. (2016) PEDAL Seminar: Self-regulation - Foundation skills for children's healthy development (Video Recording)

Abstract:

Part of the PEDAL Seminar series this video shows the recording of the recent seminar hosted by PEDAL and the Psychology & Education research group at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

Introduced by PEDAL acting Director Dr David Whitebread from the Faculty of Education and presented by Dr Megan McClelland, Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children & Families, Oregon State University.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2016
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Academic achievement
  • Academic outcomes
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Games with rules
  • Self-regulation
  • Semiotic play
  • Executive function
Relevant age group/s:

PTI, . (2017) Play Therapy International (Web Page)

Abstract:

Our site is intended to provide an international information resource for therapeutic play, play therapy, filial play and creative arts therapies. It's designed for anyone interested in helping children with emotional literacy, behaviour (EBD) or mental health problems.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2017
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Games with rules
  • Mental health
  • Pretend play
  • Semiotic play
  • Symbolic play
  • Well-being outcomes

Taneja, V. (2002) 'Not by bread alone' : impact of a structured 90- minute play session on development of children in an orphanage (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Abstract Background and objectives In developing countries,caring for the large number of babies in orphanages is very hard work.Whereas the physical needs of most of the children are met,play often gets neglected.Studies have repeatedly shown that babies in such institutionalized settings suffer from severe psychomotor retardation.The aim of this project was to develop an intervention programme of structured play.We hypothesized that such an intervention would result in acceleration of psychosocial development in otherwise healthy institutionalized children. Design Prospective longitudinal. Setting Mother Teresa’s Orphanage, run by Missionaries of Charity. Subject and methods All 30 children in the orphanage aged 6 months–2.5 years,were assessed for their Motor,Mental and Social Quotients,using the Indian adaptation of Bailey’s Scale of Infant Development(DASII) and the Vineland’s Social Maturity Scale.A structured ‘Regime of Play’was then built into the routine of the orphanage.A repeat developmental assessment was performed at the end of 3months to assess the impact. Results Out of the original cohort of 30,19 children were available for post-intervention assessments.The remainder were adopted before their assessments.Their mean Motor Quotient rose from 63.7 to 81.7,mean Mental Quotient rose from 65.8 to 89.6 and the mean Social Quotient rose from 61.9 to 91.3,a gain of 18,23 and 30 points respectively (p< 0.0001).There was also an overall change in the environment of the orphanage.Children became more active,playful, responsive and independent.Contrary to what caretakers assumed, their workload actually decreased.The responsiveness in the children awakened as a result of play,acted as a positive feedback for caretakers to continue the play sessions. Conclusions This study shows that short daily sessions of play can significantly improve the development of children in such institutions. It is vital to remember that children grow ‘Not by Bread Alone’

Author/s:
Date:
January 2002
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
28
Page/s:
95-100
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Exploratory play
  • Language
  • Longitudinal
  • Outdoor play
  • Physical play
  • Semiotic play
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline: