Fantasy Play and Young Children's Search for Meaning

Patricia M. Cooper

in The Classrooms All Young Children Need

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780226115238
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226115252 | DOI:
Fantasy Play and Young Children's Search for Meaning

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This chapter considers Vivian Paley's discovery of the deeper, psychological significance of children's fantasy play. The chapter pays attention to the general functions of play in young children's development as depicted in Paley's classroom observations. Much focus is given on Paley's pedagogy of meaning of observations on young children at play that have proven an incredible resource for teachers. Theoretically, fantasy play emerges between symbolic explorations of toddlerhood and peaks before the mastery of games with rules in middle childhood. Vivian Paley describes fantasy play as the young child's “curriculum in its natural form.” According to Paley's pedagogy of meaning, teacher must inhabit the zone of proximal development created by fantasy play. It also means that the teacher must relinquish control over what the children should be thinking and actively embrace what they are thinking. Hence, the chapter also tries to make links between fantasy play and early literacy development.

Keywords: pedagogy of meaning; fanstasy; classrooms; Vivian Paley; young children; literacy development

Chapter.  6400 words. 

Subjects: Schools Studies

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