Play and Learning: How the Two Leading Activities Meet



The transition from preschool to school age is a period when conceptual play may become the source of initiative and independence for a child — the very elements that learning activity lacks in its origins. The narrative plot of conceptual play helps children yet not capable of system thinking; it maintains the integrity and coherence of separate tasks given by a teacher, makes them more emotionally significant and provides new meanings for the child’s actions. However, if the teacher employs play and narrative only as the powerful motivators for learning, without the conceptual content, then cognitive and learning interests would generally develop in those children who came to school with a desire for knowledge and intellectual efforts. In conceptual play the child, acting on behalf of characters representing concepts, carries out the operations necessary for the formation of these concepts. The means of actions for the characters are instructional (schemes). Basing on the reading and writing lessons in primary school, the paper shows how conceptual play helps the child to keep in mind the simultaneously and equally existing (equally right) points of view on the studied subject. This lays the foundations for the future conceptual thinking, positional in its nature as it implies the ability to hold and coordinate various aspects of conceptual contradiction. Narrative plots of conceptual play enable the child to introduce his/her own connotations into the plot of a learning play and to become a co-author of the lesson, contributing to its direction.

General Information

Keywords: transition from play to learning activity, conceptual play, narrative plots in conceptual plays, preconditions for written speech

Journal rubric: Developmental Psychology

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Zuckerman G.A. Play and Learning: How the Two Leading Activities Meet. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2016. Vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 4–13. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2016120201. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Galina A. Zuckerman, Doctor of Psychology, professor, Leading Research Fellow, Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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