Dramatic play as a means to explore and support preschool children’s thinking about thermal insulation
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Keywords:Dramatic play, Ideas, Representations, Pre-conceptions, Science concept formation, Thermal insulation- melting, Solidification, Early childhood
Research in young children’s ideas, representations, and pre-conceptions about the natural and technical world has a long history. Most of the studies in the field have used individual, semi-structured interviews as a methodological technique to generate and collect empirical data. However, less is known about how tracing procedures can come in line and be incorporated into everyday educational reality in early childhood settings in a way that reflects young children’s interests and needs. The present study uses dramatic play to trace young children’s thinking in science and advance their science learning experiences. The study focuses on a science concept young children are familiar with in everyday life though has not been thoroughly studied in the literature yet: thermal insulation. Empirical data from 6 preschoolers in Greece are presented. Qualitative data were collected through recordings of children’s dialogues, children’s drawings, field notes from the early childhood teachers, and photographs. The findings revealed that during their dramatic play children a) developed basic argumentation to express their thinking about the phenomenon; b) related the phenomenon with the thermal condition and changes in temperature; c) identified materials and objects with insulating properties and distinguish them from others with non-insulating properties, and d) came to the conclusion that the use of amplified insulation materials can lead to better insulation results. The outcomes of the study add to the research methodology in early childhood science education and inform practice providing a pedagogical framework that balances between play-based pedagogies and advanced learning outcomes in science for young learners.
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