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“This is a pit of fire”: associations of play materials with children’s creativity during play and internal state language

Faculty Advisor




creative object use, creative scenarios, internal-state language, play materials, pretend play

Abstract (summary)

This study investigated how specific characteristics of multipiece, miniature, realistic play props (thematically open-ended village set versus thematically closed-ended train set) designed to enhance children’s pretense influenced their scenario creativity, object transformations, and the frequency and use of specific internal-state language. The sample consisted of 7-year-olds (n = 52) focal children playing with a sibling and a friend and focused on associations of play scenarios (i.e., set-up/organization, expected scenarios, creative scenarios), object use (i.e., set-up/organization, expected use, creative use, and no object), and internal-state language (i.e., references to cognitions, goals, emotions, preferences). Children engaged in more expected scenarios and object use with the closed-ended train set than with the open-ended village set. Play set differentially impacted the use of internal-state language: More references to goals were evident during train play, whereas a trend indicated that children employed more references to cognitions with the village. The pattern of findings indicates that children’s play communications may be associated with specific types of play props; thus, different play props may enhance pretense in different ways.

Publication Information

Howe, N., Leach, J., Tavassoli, N., Farhat, F., & DeHart, G. (2020). “This is a pit of fire”: Associations of play materials with children’s creativity during play and internal state language. Journal of Research in Childhood Education.


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