Creating and Maintaining Play Connection in a Toddler Peer Group

  • Annukka PursiEmail author
  • Lasse Lipponen
Part of the International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development book series (CHILD, volume 30)


This study explores how one and two year old peers (henceforth toddlers) participate in joint play activities in a natural group-care setting. We focus on joint play activity between three toddler peers during one full day-care day in a Finnish toddler classroom. Questions guiding the analysis concern the sequential understanding of how play emerges within peer interaction and how toddler peers are able to build sustained co-participation in their joint play during the day. The analysis showed that joint play was fragmented and organized in short segments of dyadic or triadic interaction. Re-establishments of joint play and accumulation of significant play signals during the day were important practices for toddlers to constitute social organization and sustained co-participation in their multi-party peer play. The results strengthen our understanding of very young children as both more and less competent play companions in their peer groups and guide adults’ practice in relation to peer play in toddler classrooms.


Play Joint activity Peer interaction Co-participation Toddler 



We wish to thank first of all Venla, Niilo and Ella for their playful moments that inspired this work. We are also thankful to all the parents and ECE practitioners for their cooperation. For comments and discussions we are most grateful to Marjatta Kalliala and Nina Sajaniemi.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Educational SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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