Children’s Play as a Starting Point for Teaching Shapes and Patterns in the Preschool

  • Kerstin BäckmanEmail author


This chapter contributes to knowledge about the teaching and learning of mathematical content through play in the preschool. The study focuses on the potential for teaching and learning mathematical content with children’s play as the starting point. The question is important because according to research, children’s mathematical encounters in play activities are educational experiences. The understanding of children’s mathematical encounters in play and teachers’ teaching is presented in terms of learnable and teachable moments in “here-and-now” situations. The data consists of video-recorded observations of young children’s play in four Swedish preschools. Two 14-min-long excerpts from the recordings illustrate the potential of children’s play for the teaching and learning of shapes and patterns. The results show that a teacher’s questions and didactical choices in play can support children’s explorations if the teacher observes and recognizes the mathematical content. The results also indicate the potential for teachable and learnable moments and dilemmas when play is the starting point.

The conclusion is that “here-and-now” situations provide teachable and learnable moments. There are also dilemmas, in that teachers have to observe and discern the mathematics in children’s play and direct the child’s attention towards this.


“Here-and-now” situations Learnable moments Mathematics Teachable moments Play 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of GävleGävleSweden

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