Young children’s imaginative play places: historical and contemporary narratives of children’s places for play

Year: 2013

Author: Moore, Deborah

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Researchers have become increasingly interested in young children’s use of place. However, misunderstandings about the importance of place to children are still commonplace within education and the community generally. Of particular concern and interest is that contemporary children’s use of place appears to have changed markedly over time with the advent of technological play spaces and the reported limitation on opportunities for outdoor play places. This apparent shift towards virtual play places has far reaching implications for contemporary childhood, early childhood education and children’s places for play. This paper reports on the early findings of a narrative inquiry conducted with four families across generations including; preschool children, early primary school children, their parents and grandparents. It examined the meanings both children and adults bring to the important and powerful cultural practice of finding and creating imaginative play places during early childhood. Visual and oral narrative methods such as map-making and memory boxes were created by both the children and the adults to trigger stories about their childhood imaginative play places. Recalling lived experiences through memory and story created rich narratives of past and present childhood places. The analysis of these narratives enabled the examination of generational experiences through time and place in childhood places chosen for imaginative play. If and how these play practices and their meanings have persisted or changed over generations will be reported in this paper to provide a deeper understanding of contemporary children’s use of place in relation to past childhood experiences.