Role Substitution in Preschoolers’ Play with DifferentTypes of Materials for Pretend Play

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Abstract

This paper is devoted to the observation of preschoolers’ free play with different types of materials for pretend play. It is shown that role substitution varies in play with different materials. When children played with play costumes (role markers), many of them renamed themselves; however, the roles were similar in character and strictly related to the proposed costumes. Also, children rarely performed their role through actions. Playing with character toys turned out to be gender specific. Boys rarely played a role, preferring a director's position. Girls’ play was of different levels of complexity, their roles were complementary to their toys and original in character. When children played with toys that imitate real objects (cups, swords, irons and so on), they were less likely to rename themselves, the roles were rather similar; however, almost all children acted from inside their roles. The most balanced environment for pretend play was the one with open-ended materials: many children renamed themselves, and the roles were original (in fact, originality was the highest with this type of materials), many children performed the role through play actions (this was especially true for older preschoolers). The exception were 6-year-old children who, despite renaming themselves, did not perform any play actions in this environment.

General Information

Keywords: free play, role play, role substitution, object substitution, toys, open-ended materials, play environment.

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17759/chp.2021170110

Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project number 18-013-01226.

For citation: Ryabkova I.A., Sheina E.G. Role Substitution in Preschoolers’ Play with DifferentTypes of Materials for Pretend Play. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2021. Vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 67–74. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2021170110. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)

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Information About the Authors

Irina A. Ryabkova, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Department of Preschool Pedagogy and Psychology, Faculty of Psychology of Education, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2274-0432, e-mail: ibaladinskaya@gmail.com

Elena G. Sheina, lecturer at the Department of Preschool Pedagogy and Psychology, Faculty of Psychology of Education, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3723-812X, e-mail: leshgp@gmail.com

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