Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 367–376 | Cite as

Bring Your Own Toy: Socialisation of Two-Year-Olds Through Tool-Mediated Activities in an Australian Early Childhood Education Context



The study focuses on how young children are socialised in early childhood education practice in activities with and around toys. A premise of this study is the theoretical notion of sociocultural theory that people do things with artefacts and other cultural tools, and tools do things with people. This is captured in the unit of analysis, tool-mediated activities. Two activities, documented by video observations, are analysed. The empirical data are illustrated through images and transcripts, and the analysis is grounded on an interactional approach. The analysis illustrates that play activities in this practice offer opportunities to use toys in individual ways. Yet, the toys also provide ways of participating in activities together with other children when there is a common artefact within the activity, for instance a parking lot for driving cars on. Therefore, even when playing individually and with individual toys, children can participate in a joint activity. How toys mediated knowledge and practice on individual, interpersonal, and institutional planes is discussed. The findings suggest that toys support communication before children have developed verbal language skills and that certain types of tools facilitate both individual and collective use.


Artefacts Toys Socialisation Non-verbal communication Participation Early childhood education 


  1. Berthelsen, D., & Bronwlee, J. (2005). Respecting children’s agency for learning and rights to participation in child care programs. International Journal of Early Childhood, 37(3), 49–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cameron, L. (2003). Metaphor in educational discourse. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  3. Cheng, M.-F., & Johnson, J. E. (2010). Research on children’s play: Analysis of developmental and early education journals from 2005 to 2007. Early Childhood Education Journal, 37(4), 249–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Corsaro, W. (2003). We’re friends, right? Inside the kids’ culture. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press.Google Scholar
  5. Daniels, H. (2005). Vygotsky and educational psychology: Some preliminary remarks. Educational and Child Psychology, 22(1), 6–17.Google Scholar
  6. Degotardi, S., & Davis, B. (2008). Understanding infants: Characteristics of early childhood practitioners’ interpretations of infants and their behaviours. Early Years, 28(3), 221–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dockett, S., Einarsdottir, J., & Perry, B. (2009). Researching with children: Ethical tensions. Journal of Early childhood research, 7(3), 283–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Drury, R. (2013). How silent is the ‘Silent Period’ for young bilinguals in early years settings in England? European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 21(3), 380–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Edwards, S. (2011). Lessons from ‘a really useful engine’:™ Using Thomas the Tank Engine ™ to examine the relationship between play as a leading activity, imagination and reality in children’s contemporary play words. Cambridge Journal of Education, 41(2), 195–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fassler, R. (1998a). Room for talk: Peer support for getting into English in an ESL kindergarten. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 13(3), 379–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fassler, R. (1998b). Let’s do it again! Peer collaboration in an ESL kindergarten. Language Arts, 75(3), 202–210.Google Scholar
  12. Fleer, M. (2010). The re-theorisation of collective pedagogy and emergent curriculum. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 5, 563–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fleer, M. (2011). ’Conceptual play’: Foregrounding imagination and cognition during concept formation in early years education. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 12(1), 224–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hakkarainen, P. (2002). Kehittävä esiopetus ja oppiminen [Developing early childhood pedagogy and learing]. Jyväskylä: PS-kustannus.Google Scholar
  15. Hakkarainen P. (2006). Development of motivation in play and narratives. Retrieved 20-04-2009 from http://dev.papers.ierg.net/papers/Hakkarainen_185.pdf.
  16. Heath, C., Hindmarsh, J., & Luff, P. (2010). Video in qualitative research: Analysing social interaction in everyday life. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  17. Hedegaard, M. (1998). Situated learning and cognition: Theoretical learning and cognition. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 5(2), 114–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hedegaard, M. (2009). Children’s development from a cultural-historical approach: Children’s activity in everyday local settings as foundation for their development. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 16(1), 64–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jordan, B., & Henderson, A. (1995). Interaction analysis: Foundations and practice. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 4, 39–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kalliala, M. (2014). Toddlers as both more and less competent social actor in Finnish day care centres. Early Years, 34(1), 4–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kozulin, A. (1998). Psychological tools: A sociocultural approach to education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Kultti A (2012). Flerspråkiga barn i förskolan: Villkor för deltagande och lärande [Multilingual children in preschool: Conditions for participation and learning]. Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis. http://hdl.handle.net/2077/29219.
  23. Kumpulainen, K., Lipponen, L., Hilppö, J., & Mikkola, A. (2013). Building on the positive in children’s lives: A co-participatory study on the social construction of children’s sense of agency. Early Child Development and Care, 184(2), 211–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  25. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Lipponen, L., & Kumpulainen, K. (2011). Acting as accountable authors: Creating interactional spaces for agency work in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(5), 812–819.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Martin, C., & Evaldsson, A. (2012). Affordances for participation: Children’s appropriation of rules in a Reggio Emilia school. Mind, Culture and Activity, 19(1), 51–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Philp, J., Oliver, R., & Mackey, A. (Eds.). (2008). Second language acquisition and the younger learner. Child’s play? Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  29. Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Rogoff, B. (2003). The cultural nature of human development. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Rydland, V., & Grøver Aukrust, V. (2005). Lexical repetition in second language learners’ peer play interaction. Learning Language, 55(2), 229–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tomasello, M. (1999). The cultural origins of human cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  33. van Oers, B. (2013). An activity theory view on the development of playing. In I. Schousboe & D. Winther-Lindqvist (Eds.), Children’s play and development: Cultural-historical perspectives (pp. 231–250). Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Venninen, T., Leinonen, J., Lipponen, L., & Ojala, M. (2014). Supporting children’s participation in Finnish child care centers. Early Childhood Education Journal, 42, 211–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Vygotsky, L. (1966). Play and its role in the mental development of the child. Voprosy Psikhologii, 12(6), 62–76.Google Scholar
  36. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Vygotsky L. S. (1998). The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky, Volume 5: Child psychology (R. W. Rieber, Ed.; M. J. Hall, Trans.). New York, NY: Plenum.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education, Communication and LearningUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

Personalised recommendations