Playworlds as Ways of Being, A Chorus of Voices: Why are Playworlds Worth Creating?*



This paper discusses the playworlds of the Playworld of Creative Research (PWCR) research group. Play¬worlds are created from a relatively new form of play that can be described as a combination of adult forms of creative imagination (art, science, etc.), which require extensive real life experience, and children’s forms of creative imagination (play), which require the embodiment of ideas and emotions in the material world. In playworlds, adults and children (or teenagers or seniors) enter into a common fantasy that is designed to support the development of both adults and children (or teenagers or seniors). The PWCR understands play¬worlds and the study of playworlds as ways of being. In this paper we present unique, individual playworlds that we truly love from the perspective of researchers, artists, teachers, children, administrators, and imagi¬nary characters, who participate in playworlds. We use a master fiction writer’s words on the love of literature to frame our discussion of playworlds, focusing on truth, time, human magic, infinite possibilities, fun, and the enriching and intensifying (and so, creating) of the real in playworlds in Japan, Finland, Sweden and the US.

General Information

* We dedicate this paper to Pentti Hakkarainen, whose work inspired ours and whom we miss. The Playworld of Creative Research (PWCR) studies playworlds through collaborative and participatory methods. The PWCR members who have co-written this paper are Kori Goldberg and Dr. Smartypants. Beth Ferholt, Robert Lecusay, and Anna Rainio are the lead co-authors; Sonja Baumer, Kiyotaka Miyazaki, and Monica Nilsson are second co-authors; all are listed in alphabetical order within these categories.

Keywords: imagination, creativity, emotion, cognition, being, play, early childhood education and care

Journal rubric: Problems of Cultural-Historical and Activity Psychology

Article type: scientific article


Acknowledgements. The authors are grateful for the wonderful contributions from playworld participants that had to be cut from the paper due to space constraints, but which are essential to the study.

For citation: Ferholt B., Lecusay R., Rainio A.P., Baumer S., Miyazaki K., Nilsson M., Cohen L. Playworlds as Ways of Being, A Chorus of Voices: Why are Playworlds Worth Creating?. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2021. Vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 95–103. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2021170313.

Full text


Introduction: Playworlds of the Playworld
of Creative Research

Gunilla Lindqvist, a foundational scholar of Vygotsky’s [31, 32, 33, 34, 35] theories of play, art and development in our collective playworld research, designed playworlds [10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22] to find a “common denominator” of play and aesthetic forms. Lindqvist [12] calls this denominator “the aesthetics of play” and we [20] have described playworlds as “an art of development”. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, for scientists who are working alone, without artists, to adequately describe art or subjects that are art-adjacent. In order to describe playworlds for this special issue, we have, thus, turned to an artist, and one whose material we share (written words). We have also made use of our own sense of aesthetic appreciation; and included the words of playworld participants whose profession, existence, and/or stages of development resist the segregation of cognition and emotion.

It was L.S. Vygotsky who placed emotion at the center of this dilemma when he wrote: “Few understand why it is imperative not only to have the effect of art take shape and excite the reader or spectator but also to explain art, and to explain it in such a way that the explanation does not kill the emotion.” [31, p. 254]. In this paper we attempt to explain playworlds without killing the emotion by doing the following: We center ourselves not in an abstract understanding of playworlds, but in those unique, individual play­worlds that we truly love. We use Salman Rushdie’s words on the love of literature — “Ask Yourself Which Books You Truly Love” is the name of the essay from which we took his words — to frame our discussion of playworlds.

Salman Rushdie [27] writes: “I believe that the books and stories we fall in love with make us who we are, or, not to claim too much, the beloved tale becomes a part of the way in which we understand things and make judgments and choices in our daily lives.” Several playworlds have made us who we are, and you will hear this in our descriptions and discussions of playworlds. We also present a chorus of voices, expressions of love of play­worlds not only from researchers and artists, but also from teachers, children, administrators of institutions in which playworlds are created, and imaginary characters.

To use the words of Rushdie [27]: Playworlds [12] make adults and children fall, together, in love with imaginary worlds that are “full of beautiful impossibility,” which “by being not true (tell) the truth, often more beautifully and memorably than stories that rel(y) on being true.” Playworlds happen “right now” and they show us “ordinary magic, human magic”: “ordinary people respond(ing) to the arrival in their lives of the extraordinary.” There are always children and adults in our classrooms who are in the midst of responding to the extraordinary, for life is often extraordinary; and, as well, the particular task of play­worlds, the creating of an imaginary world for and with all participants and participants of all ages, is itself extraordinary (or we would have more examples of such practices). Furthermore, playworlds are “infinite in their possibilities,” and they are “fun.” Playworlds “add() dimensions to the real,” “fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh dimensions to the usual three,” and they are “a way of enriching and intensifying our experience of the real.”

We will focus on six topics that emerged from our data, as we used Rushdie’s words, above, to guide our analysis: truth, time, human magic, infinite possibilities, fun, and the enriching and intensifying — thus, creating — of the real, in playworlds. We will look to the common theoretical foundation of our collective’s play­worlds in Vygotksy’s theories of play, art, imagination and creativity; and we will hear from playworld participants; concerning these six topics. We will start with a brief and concrete history of our collective’s playworlds. However, it is first necessary to reiterate that playworlds are not instructional methods or techniques. Playworlds are multivocal, researcher-participant, collaborative acts of creation, and it is this that this paper both describes and explores, and, in the process, partially exemplifies.

A Brief history of the Playworld of Creative
Research and our playworlds

Playworlds are created from a relatively new form of play that can be described as a combination of adult forms of creative imagination (art, science, etc.), which require extensive real life experience, and children’s forms of creative imagination (play), which require the embodiment of ideas and emotions in the material world (Vygtosky’s “pivot” [32]) [4, 22]. In playworlds, adults and children (or teenagers or seniors) enter into a common fantasy. Playworlds are designed to support the development of both adults and children (or teenagers or seniors).

Our collective is named the Playworld of Creative Research (PWCR) and we are a subgroup within the International Playworld Network (IPWN) (see Chapter 14 in The Story of LCHC: A Polyphonic Autobiography [29]). Our PWCR is defined by our understanding of playworlds and the study of playworlds as ways of being. The IPWNW is a group of playworld scholars who have been collaborating in their playworld research, through joint publications, playworld conferences, and international playworld research projects, since 2003.

In 2003, there was a coincidental convergence of researchers at the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition (LCHC) (see [29]) at the University of California, San Diego, who had been studying Fifth Dimensions (5thDs) [3] and who were also particularly interested in play, art, and the creativity of young children as culture producers. LCHC playworlds evolved directly from a series of student and scholar exchanges with Pentti Hakkarainen’s laboratory in Finland, Silmu (for a connection between 5thDs and Silmu’s Narrative Learning see [8]), at the University of Oulu, which included playworld projects with Milda Bredikyte; and it was through Silmu that we all became intrigued (re­intrigued in our Swedish colleague’s case) by the work of Lindqvist: the designer of the first playworlds in Sweden and the scholar who coined the term “playworlds” in her studies of her “creative pedagogy of play” [12, p. 72].

It was out of the LCHC playworlds that the IPWNW developed and expanded from our original LCHC play­world participants to include collaborative writing and discussions with Ana Marjanovic-Shane [19], Hiroaki Ishiguro [9], Ryoko Watanabe [36], and others. This network includes a variety of playworlds, many of which are derived from Lindqvist’s work. But the IPWNW also includes many playworlds that, while they can trace a key portion of their theoretical history back to Vygtosky’s work, have been inspired by Lindqvist’s work only after they joined the network; playworlds that are primarily inspired by local, and also other foreign, theory and practice. Our topics of study and methods are even more varied than our influences.

The Common theoretical basis
of PWCR playworlds

We place emotion at the center of our efforts to describe playworlds because we are striving to avoid shunting emotion to the side and missing its role in playworlds and descriptions of playworlds, or giving attention to topics such as art, fun and imagination, without due emphasis on cognition. Cognition and emotion are still, often, separated in the social scientific study of development and learning. Vygotsky called this separation “a major weakness of traditional psychology” and explained that this separation “makes the thought process appear as an autonomous flow of ‘thoughts thinking themselves,’ segregated from the fullness of life, from the personal needs and interests, the inclinations and impulses, of the thinker” [33, p. 10]. Yet, we accept this segregation in part because we do not have adequate means of observing, and then capturing for study, complex dynamic relations between such key psychological processes as cognition, emotion, imagination and creativity [4]. (Elsewhere we argue that playworlds can also help us to solve this methodological problem [5].) One unacceptable result of this acceptance is that we cannot adequately understand phenomenon such as the “art of development” or “aesthetics of play” that is playworlds.

Desegregation of emotion and cognition are, interestingly, at the center of Vygotsky’s theory in support of playworlds [12, 22], as well as being central to our project of describing playworlds [4]. Vygotsky argues [35] that imagination is an essential aspect of all thought, and that: “It is this ability to combine elements to produce a structure, to combine the old in new ways, that is the basis of creativity” [35, p. 7]. And Vygotsky [35] describes four ways that imagination is associated with reality, including the following: emotions, which are a part of reality in that they are real and we experience them as real even if they don’t correspond to the rest of reality as expected, influence imagination, and imagination influences emotions; impressions that produce similar emotional effects have a tendency to cluster together in our imagination; and imagination can satisfy emotional needs, such that both imagination and realistic thinking are connected to emotions.


Research question

This special issue concerns effective educational practices but, as should be clear by now, it is difficult to know how to determine if playworlds are or are not effective, or even to decide how to respond when we ask ourselves: “Effective concerning what?” We can, as with literature or other art forms, often compare one playworld to another and judge one to be better or worse than another, and we can say why this is so. However, we have found it impossible to choose a finite number of criteria by which we might judge if playworlds are or are not effective, and many of the criteria that do come to mind cannot be effectively or ineffectively addressed.

In one paper [2] we did, in fact, demonstrate that participation in a playworld improves children’s narrative and literacy skills. We could possibly show that playworlds are particularly effective according to this criteria and do suspect that this is the case. But we have not conducted the studies that would show this. We have also shown that playworlds can create room in classrooms for children’s agency to enact and develop “effectively” [24; 25]. However, what is effective is relative to what the aims and challenges are, that the local, particular playworld aims to meet.

The research challenge that this study set out to meet, is to describe and explore playworlds without keeping emotion and thought separated from one another. We did this by asking to the participants of the playworlds to describe their ways of being in the playworlds as the participants and the creators of the playworlds: how they live in the playworlds; how they act in the playworlds; how they feel in the playwords. In these unique and concrete experiences of living, acting and feeling, emotion and cognition are two aspects of the same experience, unified and not segregated from each other, as Vygotsky noted. We turned to researchers and participants in several playworlds, which took place in several different manners and countries, and with several different populations to create a multivocal, researcher-participant, collaborative study, as a reflection of our topic of study. We asked them one question: “Why do you think playworlds are worth creating?” We asked this question because we wanted to know participants' “personal needs and interests, the inclinations and impulses,” all of which are the nuclei of our ways of being.


The participants in this study are 36 researchers and participants in 38 playworld that have been created between 2002 and 2021. They include researchers, artists, teachers, children, administrators of institutions in which playworlds are created, as well as the imaginary characters that came into being through these playworld activities. The playworlds in which these participants have been active took place in early childhood public elementary school classrooms in California [4] and in New York City [6] in the US; in preschools in Stockholm and Jonkoping, Sweden [23]; in elementary schools [24, 25] and a foster care program for adolescents [26] in Helsinki, Finland; and in a center for elderly care for residents with dementia [36], and a preschool [21, 28], in Japan.


We asked the participants to express why they think playworlds are worth creating. We left it to each of the primary authors to contact the participants with whom they themselves had worked most closely, so that translation would not be an issue and technical questions could be answered in the context of shared experiences in playworlds. Of the 48 participants we contacted, via email and by phone, simply asking each participant to respond in any way they liked to the above prompt, 36 responded. Not all of the responses appear in the results section, below, due to space constraints, but all were included in the analysis.

Method of Analysis

Again, in order to describe and explore playworlds without keeping emotion and thought separated from one another, we employed a multivocal, researcher-participant, collaborative and creative method of analysis: a form of abductive analysis [30]. This particular method is still in the process of being developed and this study constitutes one of the early stages of this process (see also [5]). We organized and repeatedly reorganized our participants’ contributions, and the afore mentioned most salient and most often repeated six topics emerged: truth, time, human magic, infinite possibilities, fun, and the enriching and intensifying — thus, creating — of the real. We created “a chorus of voices,” which we present in the following section of the paper as both our results and discussion of our results, and this chorus itself both brought shape to and was shaped by our guiding topics (as a vocal chorus is shaped by and brings shapes to the notes on the sheet music).

Results and Discussion: A Chorus of voices,
expressions of love of playworlds

Many of the following statements address more than one of our topics, so we have organized the statements not by topic but by tone. We have organized these statements to make the reading of these many disparate voices, coming as they do from diverse professions, stages of life, cultures, and even planes of existence (real and imaginary), harmonious even as their juxtaposition offers up fruitful contradictions. (Please note that some of these statements are transcribed, so should be read as speech, and we have resisted grammatical corrections when the phrasing is poetic.)

Kiyo (researcher in Japan, working with playworlds since 2002)

“I will answer the question of why playworlds are important for the peoples’ way of being.

In short, playworlds are important because the participants, both children and adults, can be the intellectual producers of the worlds.

My view depends on my nearly 20 years of experience of the playworlds research project in one Japanese kindergarten, whose unique characteristic is that its curriculum has two pillars: Art activities and imaginative play activities. Children experience the production of the world not only in the art activities in the form of the art product creation but also in the imaginative play. Imaginative play is not just the experience of pretense nor the performing of some ready-made narrative. It is the experience of producing the imaginative world.

For children to go beyond the stereotypical imagination into the new imaginative world, the teacher’s support is necessary to extend children’s imagination. It is not the support from outside nor from above. The teacher should commit to the imaginative world authentically and enjoy it her/himself so that she/he can find out some new potential for the development of the new world in children’s productive activities. The teacher should be, in the project, as a being with children, sharing and co-producing the world.”

Michael (teacher and administrator in the US, working with playworlds since 2004)

“And you know I remember that day. I don’t know, I got a good feeling. Like this is going to be a cool thing. And in hindsight, in hindsight, it’s one of the coolest things. I mean not just at school, obviously at school. But it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever been around and done.

But, yeah, so my favorite moment, and, and that’s probably gonna be the memory I have, like that moment I have of Beth (a playworld researcher) coming in. Because that signified the beginning of something really special happening in this classroom. And special in my life.

... I’d do it again a million times. Out of a million ... I can’t wait to start again next year.”

Doug (teacher in the US, working with playworlds since 2017)

“As an NYC public school teacher I am often hamstrung, challenged, indeed overwhelmed by the problem of “space.” And this confoundedness relates to so many definitions of the word—elbow to elbow in classrooms populated with inhumane class sizes even with our youngest children, boxed in by curriculums designed, marketed, and declared every five years as inviolable blueprints for success by corporatist non-educators, walled into inadequate physical spaces with asbestosfilled walls, jaundiced fluorescent light, and stress-inducing acoustics, and pressed into school days and schedules that, if unchecked, march from activity to activity with little understanding of what children need and how they grow and learn. How do we limit the concept of “space” for young children, let me count the ways...

Well, there are also rebellions afoot and I count myself as one of the conspirators in this fight. And one of my tools in this rebellion, and a most powerful one, are playworlds. Against these inhibiting forces, playworlds create another space, one that is near limitless. It is a protected space that is carved into contexts, described above, where one thought it impossible. The rules and language of this space are child-driven, child-imagined, wholly child-owned. It is defined by stories, often beginning with a shared text, then fueled by the children’s imagination, they metamorphosize and expand. Suddenly, one finds that the walls of the classroom have evaporated, we’ve blown the roof off the place and off we go... to create, to play ourselves into new worlds. And while children are the drivers of this process, their adult teachers are collaborators. This creates the added element, and a persuasive and impactful one, that adults engage in play too and that school, too often a prescribed, hemmed in, rote context, is anything but. And for the curriculum-minded, those who need to know that skills are accruing, the story here is equally persuasive. Playworlds achieve the kind of data that the data-driven don’t likely understand, but can’t dispute.”

Anna-Karin (teacher in Sweden, working with playworlds since 2013)

“Every day I meet play, someone asks should we play. I think that play can take place in so many different ways.

At breakfast one morning I am asked if we can play Butterbean’s cafe. Okay, we can, I answer (now during Corona times, we adults hand out the food). I am assigned a role, Poppy, I do not know at all what character it is but get help from the children and can then add my own experiences of what it is like to work in a cafe. We get a fun and playful start to the day. Popular culture is often the beginning of play, children choose roles that are negotiated and environments are built. The game changes, the addition of props, characters disappear and new ones are added. Play must take place and be present in all rooms. A child said to me “we have to move” when I thought we could stay in the same spot outside and continue with the play building we had started. It was an exciting move, we ended up in shops, a swimming pool and a playground, many experiences were tried here and I got to share mine.

New, old, the visible and the invisible are bound together and just as quickly it can be dissolved.

We meet many children and we educators need to have many ways to meet the children in order to be responsive and curious and see exactly what that child needs to feel meaningful and happy in being just themselves. I meet children who are completely inside different play worlds. I have noticed that here too the characters play a big role. We usually sit down together with a paper folded in several parts and in each box they draw and tell about these characters. More children become curious and the drawing continues. And we get to take part in each other’s stories. Play, read, listen, write, draw, paint, listen and talk to each other. Laugh and joke, jump and dance. Dare to challenge and be challenged. Let creativity take place and give it space.”

Kati (teacher in Finland, working with playworlds since 2001)

“The effectiveness of playworlds is based on the world of fairy tales and the “magic” of the stories. When the story is meaningful for the children, the fairytale world as a frame of reference is the best learning environment. This is the starting point from which the teacher then plans and modifies the contents and different topics and problem­solving tasks in relation to the needs of the individuals / group at hand. Playworlds is motivating, interesting and engaging for children. The children learn by adventure and enjoy every moment. The motivation of the shared play creates motivation for learning. The adult gets deep into the world of children by implementing children’s ideas and innovations in play and by playing alongside and with them. Children get to solve puzzles and learn together in a safe peer group in a way that makes sense to them. The fairy tale attracts the children and exciting events are of continuous interest. The intensity for the adult arises from never knowing what will happen next. Children take the story forward and the adult needs to be able to improvise and also guide the evolving situations from within the plot. The adult creates tensions and puzzles through her fictive role to make room for children’s thinking skills and joint processing. And the pedagogical documentation of all this makes it visible. In a nutshell, (this is) my opinion on the matter.”

Jason (visual artist and puppeteer in the US, working with playworlds since 2018)

“Playworlds are important because they are fueled by magic and imagination. In these kinds of worlds there are endless possibilities and exploratory potentials. It’s one of the few places where serious and silly can coexist in equal and boundless ways.”

Luciano (puppeteer in the US, working with playworlds since 2018)

“When the pandemic hit, Mr. Lu was working in three schools in Queens, one of the communities that has thus far suffered the greatest loss of life from the virus: Hope had plummeted. Mr. Lu understood that the key to create hope and keep moving forward was for people to inspire each other. So one night, his puppet, Tony the Monkey, watched a video of another puppet, Dr. Smartypants, creating a puppet, and this inspired Tony to make his own puppet. The video of Tony watching Dr. Smartypants and becoming inspired soon created a puppet-within-puppet universe that had a life of its own, and shaped the course the puppet playworlds work in New York City.”

“This puppet it’s me, but it is not me”. And that’s the reason we the puppeteers don’t fear “wrong answers”. The sensation of being in a safe place also opens a door to let our feelings come out and be explored. well, not our feelings, but the puppets’ feelings, and so in turn, it’s also our feelings. and this was incredibly helpful for children, families and educators during the pandemic, when emotions were high and finding outlets for those emotions was difficult. Now that we’ve created this puppet and play world, it will always be there for all of us to reconnect to.”

Anna (administrator in the US, working with playworlds since 2013)

“With sadness in my heart, I visited Kori’s Zoom classroom, knowing that screen school was not something I could or would value. Suffice it to say, I was surprised when I discovered children engaging not only with their teachers, each of them in a square digital box, but also with the puppets that Gaby and Kori were holding. I observed puppets, teachers and children deeply engaged in talk. Leo (a child), told Roscoe that he was not a real puppet . .”

Robert (researcher in the US and Sweden, working with playworlds since 2004)

“There are many questions, issues, and concerns, related to the education and care of children and adults of all ages, that I have seen playworlds address in ways that have enriched the lives of its participants. Of these I think that playworlds are especially suited for creating spaces and activities that are welcoming and inclusive. They do this, I think, because they are designed to occasion a kind of sustained and engaged negotiation among participants about their shared play activities (or better said, about coming to consensus about the sharedness of their play activities). This engagement and negotiation, because it is in and about play, can be quite open and welcoming of different ways of understanding and communicating the world. It is a form of activity that creates community, that creates culture, and in this sense it fits the description of inclusive education as oriented to the creation of community [7].”

Ryoko (researcher in Finland and Japan, working with playworlds since 2006)

“Playworlds are important for the people’s way of being because people can encounter each other as equals, listen and respond to their (possible) voices and hopes, and explore the meanings in their lives with the joint creation of imaginative and meaningful worlds for them. In my research, I had the chances to observe playworld-like moments with Kawagu­chi, an experienced occupational therapist, in the Japanese nursing home for the elderly for several years. He improvisationally created many dramatic roles and “scenes” (in his words) with the elderly people with dementia to produce “the everyday life spaces” based on their past experiences, to communicate with them in a lively way, as familiar (not hierarchically organized Kawaguchi assigned the roles/ characters which were familiar to the elderly people —) characters with equal rights, free from the therapist-client relationship, and to make their lives in the nursing home more meaningful. He didn’t use ready-made narratives and their interactions as play often lasted for a very short time, but their playworlds in the nursing home demonstrate how playing in imaginative worlds is important and basic for our life and lifelong development with others.”

Sonja (researcher in the US, working with playworlds since 2003)

“Playworlds are highly engaging and immersive creative spaces where children and adults can express themselves and interact with others in an authentic, compassionate and respectful manner across boundaries of age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, etc.”

Monica (researcher in Sweden and the US, working with playworlds since 1980’s)

First of all I think that play is a major ”language” of the child and thus the way the child enters into the cultural world and takes it on, understands it and makes sense of it. Play is the significant way of making meaning in the world but also shaping it. This gives the child a sense of freedom which is one of the important things with play and which is fundamental for the child’s future life. Secondly, I think that in play strong and beautiful emotions/ feelings emerges and that is something that one wants be embraced by and immersed into. Moreover, playworlds is a way for children and adults to meet and interact in the magic of play to envision, listen to and explore each other and thus get closer to one another and one another’s worlds. Respect, inclusion and love emerge within these encounters/meetings. In order to understand how important it is for children to play, by participating and creating challenging play environments inspired by art and science, adults make it possible for all children to become active co-creators of possible and desirable worlds.”

Mary Ann (teacher in the US, working with playworlds since 2017)

“The most incredible thing happened this year, that saved me and my students during the pandemic, and it was the puppets. The puppets brought joy into all of our lives. The puppets helped us forget the pandemic. In remote learning we entered in a magical space full of joy, laughter and wondering. We sang with the puppets, had conversations with our puppets, read stories, and we became story tellers. Now the challenge is, how to share it with others, and how to bring the puppets into schools. We have a lot of work to do, because we need to spread the joy to others who might need even more. I have used the puppets for singing songs, and having share time and conversations together, puppet theater on Thursday for fairy tales, intro. to Mo Willem (an author), ... discussing issues during Black and women history months, and even to teach letters. However, the most important thing is to interact with the puppets: this was our basket of joy.”






When we realize in praxis the radical power of Vygtosky’s call to desegregate emotion and cognition, and so appreciate his understanding that imagination and reality cocreate the creative cycle of consciousness, and so human life, then we can study and so / also create, enter and exit playworlds “right now.” In this process, as the chorus of playworld participant voices above has shown and as Rushdie's words remind us, we create, together, “ordinary magic, human magic”: “ordinary people respond(ing) to the arrival in their lives of the extraordinary.” Such ways of being are “infinite in their possibilities,” and also “fun.” Thus, they are ways of being that “add() dimensions to the real,” “enriching and intensifying our experience of the real.” We always need such ways of being, but we certainly need them now, when the real is global illness and mourning, and when we need all of our magic to meet the several, simultaneous existential threats to humanity.

One possible future research topic, which this study points to, is further study of playworlds as a way of being. Another is the development of the “chorus of voices” method. We have, here, identified a need for and experimented with this method, as we developed this method to meet this need, but there is clearly much more work to be done if we are to desegregate emotion and cognition in the study of art and play. Avoiding pitfalls that others have fallen into is but a first step in a longer process. We will, now, let an artist have the last word, as promised:

“We know, when we hear these tales, that even though they are “unreal,” because carpets do not fly and witches in gingerbread houses do not exist, they are also “real,” because they are about real things: love, hatred, fear, power, bravery, cowardice, death. They simply arrive at the real by a different route. They are so, even though we know that they are not so. The truth is not arrived at by purely mimetic means. An image can be captured by a camera or by a paintbrush. A painting of a starry night is no less truthful than a photograph of one; arguably, if the painter is Van Gogh, it’s far more truthful, even though far less “realistic.”” [27]







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Information About the Authors

Beth Ferholt, PhD, Associate Professor, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, New York, USA, ORCID:, e-mail:

Robert Lecusay, PhD, Associate Professor, Södertörns Högskola, Stockholm, Sweden, ORCID:, e-mail:

Anna P. Rainio, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, ORCID:, e-mail:

Sonja Baumer, PhD, Adjunct Professor, Alliant International University, San Francisco, USA, ORCID:, e-mail:

Kiyotaka Miyazaki, Professor Emeritus, Waseda University, Japan, ORCID:, e-mail:

Monica Nilsson, PhD, Associate Professor, Södertörns Högskola, Stockholm, Sweden, ORCID:, e-mail:

Luciano Cohen, Teaching Artist, Brooklyn College, City Univerisity of New York, New York, USA, ORCID:, e-mail:



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