How children link play, pictures and print

Describing how children link play, pictures and print, Anne Haas Dyson tells us:

“In considering the role of symbol making in children’s lives, we should not assume that the developmental path is from child drawer to adult artist or from child story writer to adult novelist, any more than we view the child player as an actor in the making. Stories, pictures, dramas – these are children’s ways of giving shape to their experiences, of figuring out who they are in relationship to the world and to each other. These are also children’s ways of making their own the tools that will serve them throughout their lives.” (p.56)

“…during the early childhood years children become fluent and inventive users of symbols, including gestures, pictures, spoken words, and written ones. Like the adults around them, they invest certain kinds of forms – movement, lines, sounds – with meaning, and thus they begin to use the movements of play, the lines of drawing, and the sounds of language to represent or symbolize the people, objects, and events that comprise their world. This ability to organize and express inner feelings and experiences [-p.51] through shared gestural, visual, and verbal symbols is a part of children’s human heritage; meaning making, like eating and sleeping, is an inherent part of being alive.” (pp.50-51)

“…to understand the development of written language, we cannot look only at early scribbles and letter-like marks. Literacy development is interwoven with each child’s growth as a symbol user and a social being.” (p.51)

“…children do not abandon old ways of symbolizing as they refine new ways; rather, they add to their expanding symbolic repertoire. Children become increasingly sensitive to situations where certain kinds of graphic symbol making are appropriate, just as, over time, children become increasingly [-p.53] sensitive to adjusting their speech so that it is appropriate for speakers of different ages and roles.” (pp.52-53)

“In their earliest writing, young children do not precisely encode meaning. Rather, as in their first drawings, it is the act itself – the gesture and any accompanying talk – that makes the writing meaningful.” (p.53)

“As with symbol making in general, children’s first efforts [at using the alphabet] are not signs that children have ‘learned’ or memorized the wrong spelling but, rather, signs that they have intelligently and creatively invented a new way of representing their world.” (p.53)

“In time, children must differentiate among all the symbol systems they use as authors. In one sense, they must learn not only to include writing within their play, but to play together within their writing.” (p.54)

Symbols are social tools, and, as such, they help children to gain distance from immediate experience and to consider how the world might look to someone else, skills that support and are supported by interaction with others, including teachers and peers.” (p.54)

Drawing combined with talk can quite literally become a canvas for children’s shared dramas. Yet, drawing is often considered ‘constructive work’ and thus separated from pretend play. Researchers who study children’s graphic symbolism stress the interaction between children and their own products. Children examine their marks, see further possibilities in them, and then attempt to express new ideas. In centers and classrooms, though, the dialogue between children and their papers can include other people, as children’s skill as collaborative storytellers and players infuses their drawing.” (p.54)

“When symbol making becomes a significant aspect of one’s social life, it takes on new urgency. Yet, time to concentrate on one’s own images and stories is also important.” (p.56)

The question Haas Dyson considers in this article is a really interesting one: “How do children’s written words themselves become sites for dramatic, vivid adventures?” (p.55)

She also asks: “In your classroom, what do you do to foster children’s lives as artists, authors, and friends?” (p.56)

Ref: (italics in original; emphases in blue bold mine) Anne Haas Dyson (1990) Symbol Makers, Symbol Weavers: How children link Play, Pictures, and Print. Young Children January 45(2); pp.50-57


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in art education, Metaphors and Narratives around children and learners, Understanding literacy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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