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The experimental approaches and creative mindsets of children in heuristic play



This article presents studies resulting from the observation of 8 sessions of heuristic play involving children aged 4-5 years. Heuristic play was described and implemented in preschool education by Elinor Goldschmied (1910-2009). This kind of play is sensory and motor in nature, and uses everyday objects, including waste materials. The studies were of the qualitative kind. The objective of the observations was to discern the creative mindsets and approaches of children. The findings are categorised under 3 headings, corresponding to 3 criteria-the nature of the cognitive contact, the conceptual approach to playing and while playing, and the personality traits of the subjects. Considering the character of the child's cognitive contact with the material while playing, we can distinguish between four types of experimental approaches: explorer, enumerator, master of structures, and master of descriptions. When considering full-blown play, one can observe such conceptual types as originator, imitator, creator of meanings, and re-organiser. In terms of personality type, playing can reveal such types as introvert, pedant, extrovert, adventurer, instructor, and altruist. The presented classification can facilitate a better understanding of the diverse ways and manners of children's exploration, and their creative mindsets on and while playing. It also directs our attention to the traits of character and temperament, which determine the styles of research and the methods of determining meaning.
Abstract: This article presents studies resulting from the observation of 8
sessions of heuristic play involving children aged 4-5 years. Heuristic play
was described and implemented in pre-school education by Elinor
Goldschmied (1910-2009). This kind of play is sensory and motor in nature,
and uses everyday objects, including waste materials. The studies were of the
qualitative kind. The objective of the observations was to discern the creative
mindsets and approaches of children. The findings are categorised under 3
headings, corresponding to 3 criteria - the nature of the cognitive contact, the
conceptual approach to playing and while playing, and the personality traits
of the subjects. Considering the character of the child’s cognitive contact
with the material while playing, we can distinguish between four types of
experimental approaches: explorer, enumerator, master of structures, and
master of descriptions. When considering full-blown play, one can observe
such conceptual types as originator, imitator, creator of meanings, and re-
organiser. In terms of personality type, playing can reveal such types as
introvert, pedant, extrovert, adventurer, instructor, and altruist. The presented
classification can facilitate a better understanding of the diverse ways and
manners of children’s exploration, and their creative mindsets on and while
playing. It also directs our attention to the traits of character and
temperament, which determine the styles of research and the methods of
determining meaning.
Keywords: Elinor Goldschmied, heuristic play, children’s creative mindsets,
experimental approaches, exploring
Children engage in exploratory activities from birth, which later evolve
in exploratory and experimental activities. As indicated by Dorota
Kubicka (2003, 89), exploration is triggered, in general, by all new,
Barbara Bilewicz-Kuźnia ()
Department of Pedagogy and Psychology, Marie Curie-Skłodowska University in
Lublin, Poland
AGATHOS, Volume 8, Issue 2 (15): 197-211
© CC BY NC 2017
Barbara Bilewicz-Kuźnia
unusual “stimuli-situations,” and it is the novelty of the “stimulus-
situation” which triggers creative action in one of the strongest ways.
Heuristic play is a type of activity which allows the child to satisfy
many cognitive needs. It made its way to pre-school education, and
thereby to pedagogical literature, through the pedagogical and social
activities of Elinor Goldschmied (Goldschmied, Jackson 1994) who
described the developmental conditions and benefits resulting from
engaging in exploratory playing. The ideas and terms which she
popularised, e.g. the treasure basket, heuristic play, and the key person
system, starting from the 1980s, first became widespread in the United
Kingdom, then in Italy (where Goldschmied worked), and gradually
became known all around the world (Elfer, Goldschmied, Selleck,
2012; DVD 2013 title: Dicsovered treasure. The life and work of
Elinor Goldschmied 1910-2009).
In the English educational literature (Towey 2013; Whitebread
2012), heuristic play usually stands for activities around the treasure
basket, and involving items collected in bags, which the child can
explore in a number of ways. Tina Bruce (2011, 35) suggests using
everyday objects when organising heuristic play for children aged 4-6.
The objects should be collected in extensive numbers and placed in
single-colour bags, closed with ribbons, and labelled with photos and
captions demarcating the items.
Heuristic play is an activity which is engaged freely and
independently, in which the child makes observations about the
properties of toy items, discovers their features for his or her own use,
as well as creates new uses, associations and relations, and finds new
applications. The adult provides materials to play with, and the child is
the main subject and author of the ideas and content. After a
preliminary examination of the bags and the labels attached to them,
children usually take out the items and explore them. Over the course
of playing, the little investigators use their intuition, as well as
deduction, as well as study the items, try to combine elements, check
how they work, make errors, and verify them. This type of activity is
associated with epistemic play, as described by Corrine Hutt (1979),
and sensorimotor play, illustrated by theories proposed by Jean Piaget
(1962). This article is an attempt at taking a closer look at the
experimental activities undertaken by children in heuristic play, and
the creative mindsets revealed by them.
The subject of the research was children’s heuristic play organised
in a pre-school in a small Polish town. The researcher was interested in
observing the playing children in terms of describing and naming their
creative mindsets. A qualitative strategy was employed in the study.
The primary method of data collection was photographic observation.
The studied individuals were 15 children aged four to five, residing in
a small town, and attending the local pre-school for the second year.
The play sessions took place in the morning in the pre-school hall. The
data were collected over the course of 8 play sessions. Approximately
25 heuristic bags and 3 containers were prepared for the sessions.
These included colourful caps, plastic bottles, small bowls, cutlery,
small plastic boxes, cardboard boxes of various sizes, metal cans, milk
cartons, plastic tubes, ribbons, egg trays, wooden cutlery ‒ spoons,
spatulas, and forks, as well as plastic trays, metal ladles, metal and
silicon whisks, wooden cutting boards, metal lids, potato mashers,
small pumpkins. The bags were laid flat on the carpet. Each bag was
marked with a description and a photo. The bags were arranged front
up to show the photo and description. The play organisation followed
this sequence - inviting children to play, the children's examining the
bags with materials, independent free play, conclusion and tidying up
the materials.
The research conducted by Morris I. Stein (1953, 1986), Joy P.
Guilford (1960), Victor Lowenfeld (1967) and Carl Jung (1923)
constituted the theoretical reference point to the attempt at describing
the behaviour, approaches and types of creative mindsets observed
during the heuristic play sessions. Stein (1953) in the 1950s created a
synthesis of attributes characterising creative people. When it comes to
little creators, i.e. children, these can include leadership, initiative,
activity and self-sufficiency, as well as being less held-back, less
formal and conventional, and less inclined to restrain their urges. Also,
the traits include being strongly motivated, enjoying working, strong
internal disciple, stubbornness and meticulousness. Creative people are
also independent, emotionally receptive, vital, enthusiastic, and can
efficiently use their changeability. They can be introverts, rather
unsociable and reserved. They are characterised by an aesthetic
mindset to the world, an aesthetic type of intelligence and emotionality
(Stein, 1953).
Among the criteria for creative mindsets determined by Guilford
(1960) and Lowenfeld (Lowenfeld, Brittan 1967), of note is cognitive
sensitivity, which is a trait allowing an individual to perceive
Barbara Bilewicz-Kuźnia
subtleties, notice absences, see the unusual, reveal needs and
shortages; they entail the ability to transform things and give them new
meanings, i.e. to change the function of an item, to make it usable in a
different form; and also the power of analysis, i.e. the ability to engage
in abstract thinking, allowing a transition from synthetic perception to
the determination of detail; and synthesis, which is the ability to
perceive connections which create a given whole.
The psychological model of Carl Gustav Jung (1923) is another
useful model which can act as a lens in investigating the cognitive and
emotional approaches of little creators in heuristic play. Jung
distinguishes between four basic areas of the human psyche, referred to
as psychological functions. These are thinking, feeling, sensation and
intuition. Information is received thanks to various processes within a
continuum from sensation to intuition, and value judgement takes
place thanks to processes evolving from thinking to feeling. Every type
of information reception and value judgement differs in its cognitive
style. The advantage of one of the types of experience organisation can
determine the psychological type according to which an individual can
be characterised. According to Jung, especially talented people are
usually characterised by such traits as cognitive and emotional
sensitivity, persistence and intuition.
Based on the collected data, it was possible to distinguish between
several types of children’s experimental approaches and creative
mindsets displayed during the heuristic play sessions. The division was
made on the basis of the three criteria of cognitive contact, a
conceptual approach to playing and revealing it while playing, and the
character traits of the researched subjects.
After observing children during the play sessions, it was noted that
they could perceive studied materials in an analytical or a more
synthetic way. When it came to the nature of the cognitive contact
between children and objects, one could note a generally experimental
and explorative attitude (hence the term explorer), and the perception
of items in a more specific way, through the prisms of number, shape
and form, or markings (hence such terms as enumerator, master of
structures and master of descriptions). Sometimes these two specified
forms of reception coexisted and intertwined, or the child went from
one to the other.
The explorer wants to investigate the item using all his/her senses
(sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell) and body (e.g. by crushing it,
using the weight of his/her body). Explorers are fixated on exploratory
activities, and their reactions are indirect and repetitive. They are
strongly focused on their actions, obstinate and persistent. They are not
afraid of changes and transformations in items, and rearrange their
form. They want to discover all items and their properties in many
aspects. They are dynamic in experimenting, and set the items in
motion by dropping, throwing and crushing them. They also use other
items to check how they interact when in physical contact. They
cannot get enough of experimental activities.
Example: Franek observed the label on the bag for a while, running
his fingers over it. Then, he started to untie the bag. He was enjoying it
and smiling. The boy repeatedly untied and tied the bag. This took
approximately 10 minutes, following which he took out an egg tray
from the bag. He sat in a comfortable position and started to open and
close the container. He repeated this activity, biting his lip. Later, the
boy took out several more egg trays. He checked whether all looked
the same, examined the labels, compared sizes by running his finger
along the edge of the tray, and compared the colours. Then, he started
to rub the tray against his clothes, arm and face. This lasted for
approximately 3 minutes. The boy licked each of the trays, then got up
and sat down again. This was when a playmate approached him.
Franek did not respond to his friend’s verbal and non-verbal messages.
He did not raise his eyes, and continued to look at the object he was
manipulating. The little friend started to bang using plastic spoons. The
sound, though irritating, failed to draw Franek’s interest, as he was
absorbed in his own activity. The peer walked away confused. Franek
still paid no attention and continued to persistently open and close
every tray. Then, he put one tray into another and shook them until
they fell on the carpet. He did this repeatedly. After that, he arranged
the trays next to one another at regular intervals. He sat on the first
one, stood on the second, crushed the third with his arm, the fourth
with his knee, lay back on the fifth, and lay down on his stomach on
the sixth one. After all this, he sat down. He examined all the trays and
compared them. When comparing the crushed trays he also compared
them with a remaining tray which had not been crushed. When the end
Barbara Bilewicz-Kuźnia
of play was called, the boy became sad. His activities became slower.
He did not let the other children help him put the trays back into the
bag, and then took it back, gazing at it constantly. In the end, he asked
Will you come back here with these treasures? I haven't checked
everything yet”.
Perceiving objects in a more specific way, through numbers, words
or geometric order, made it possible to identify the mindsets of the pre-
school pupils as those corresponding to enumerators, masters of words
or masters of structures. Children who received items in the context of
counting, marking or creating patterns, freely used symbolic
representations. One can state that they acted at a higher than the
enactive one, which manifested itself in manipulation activities. The
enumerator type was determined. This is a child fascinated by
mathematics in its arithmetic aspect, counting and calculating. Another
type was the master of structures, fascinated by mathematics in the
field of geometry, along with its spatial and visual aspects. Finally,
there is the master of descriptions, interested in words and linguistic
symbols. Using these communication tools (signs, words and symbols)
is a sign of the child’s cognitive maturity manifested while playing.
These are illustrations of the aforementioned cognitive approach,
evidencing the use of culture tools and proficiency in their use.
The enumerator uses objects to engage in mathematical activities,
mainly estimating, counting and calculating. He/she knows numerals
and operates with symbols, being fascinated by counting, even in very
extensive terms. He/she consequently counts items using cardinal and
ordinal numbers. These activities reveals his/her need for enumerating
numerals (also from memory), without direct contact with the material.
Enumerators can also count using other known methods, e.g. in twos,
hundreds and backwards. They tend to count real objects, and do
mental arithmetic, including additions and subtractions.
Before starting to play, Krystian counted the bags and containers
holding items. He chose the bag with toilet paper rolls. He took out
individual rolls and quoted the subsequent numerals. After removing
all the rolls from the bag and arranging them on the carpet, the boy
repacked them, putting them individually into the bag and counting out
loud. He repeated this activity. This lasted for approximately 15
minutes. Then, he took out two rolls at a time, and counted in twos: 2,
4, 6... After removing them all, he stared at them for a longer time. He
did this repeatedly. Sometimes he made a mistake, but after noticing it,
he started the sequence from the beginning. He was very focused and
absorbed by his actions. After some time, he put the items back into
the bag and placed the bag away. Then he joined a group of girls
engaged in a restaurant role-play. He was throwing coloured lids into a
cup and counting them. The girls did not like this. Krystian went away.
He sat on the floor and observed the playing children for a while.
Suddenly, he started to point in turn at every child. He mumbled
something and nodded his head. Sometimes he would shake his head
and start again. The boy was counting the children. This lasted for
approximately 5 minutes. Then, Krystian approached the bag
containing egg trays. Firstly, he counted the containers, then every
cavity in the individual containers. He selected trays for 4, 6, 10 and 12
eggs. Then, the boy moved two trays closer to each other and counted
all the cavities. He smiled from time to time. He continued to count
until the end of the session. He was eager to engage in cleaning
activities. When throwing things into bags, he also counted them.
The master of structures pays attention to the form and colour of
items. He/she seeks to put items in geometrical order and uses
materials for artistic activities, as well as arranges items in patterns,
decors and pictures with various meanings. He/she also links materials
in pairs or according to other criteria (colour, size, etc.), and arranges
striped (one-dimensional) decorations and two-dimensional decors.
He/she uses basic forms (circle, square and triangle) to build images
with specific meanings (house, plane, etc.).
Asia sat in a secluded place and started to make rows of match
boxes. She repeated this, and arranged caps with the boxes using
matching colours. Then, she started to make different patterns on the
carpet using the caps. At first, she paid no attention to the cap colour,
but later she segregated them by colour. After that, she created flowers:
blue petals, yellow centre and green stem and leaves. Then, she made
simple geometrical patterns, e.g. circles or squares, and moved on to
more precise forms: house, plane, etc.
The master of descriptions labels, connects names and items, reads
descriptions and describes the content of pictures, recalls specific
names or comes up with new ones, and uses verbal symbols. He/she is
verbally active, but does not make longer utterances, descriptions,
narratives or dialogues, usually opting for single terms.
Damian was reading aloud bag labels. He grabbed one bag and read
the inscription, turning the label. He put the bag aside and sat next to
his playmate. He picked up an egg tray and gave it a name. Then, the
pointed to other trays and said “These are also egg trays”. After that,
Barbara Bilewicz-Kuźnia
he approached every child, read the labels and named the items. He did
the same with the materials not chosen by any child, continuing this
activity throughout the entire session. While segregating the materials
into the bags, the boy named the items. He would name any object
falling inside the bag.
Most children transform playing with materials into other, more
complex forms of play, in which creative mindsets can be observed
more clearly. In these developed types of play various types of
conceptual approaches to and while playing can be noted. The
following stances were observed: initiator, imitator, creator of
meanings and re-organiser.
The play initiator motivates and inspires him/herself and others to
play. When initiators are playing alone, they often use soft speech,
which allows them to plan and organise exploratory activities, and
devise a “play plan”. When they are playing with other children, they
become a source of inspiring ideas, and they suggest, invite,
encourage, propose and give opinions.
Ola waved to her girl friends invitingly, saying “Take the boxes and
boards; they’ll come in handy.” They brought the materials. Ola
suggested “Shall we play at ship?” The girls looked at one another and
nodded hesitantly. Ola explained the rules of the play. They all agreed
on the roles they would play, and started to play at pirate ship. Ola was
sitting in a big cardboard box, which was pushed by the girls, who
were shouting “Ahoy Captain!!!”
The imitator observes others before engaging in an activity, and
copies and imitates their actions. He/she is in a phase of learning
through observing other people, does not conduct experimental
activities on his/her own yet, or immerse him/herself in play. His/her
derivative activities are consistent, but he/she does not focus on one
activity for a long time; instead, he/she changes activities and searches
for new models. Imitators need acceptance for their actions, and when
criticised they become sad and walk away. They also tend to repeat the
imitative activities with other models, including adults.
Miłosz quickly abandoned the materials which he had selected. He
approached other children, observed their activities and copied them.
For instance, he observed with interest a girl pretending to be pouring
water from one dish to another. He stood behind her and started to
imitate her movements, saying I must be careful not to spill
anything!” He repeated this activity several times, and then smiled and
walked away, saying “I’m done.” He moved to the boy examining the
properties of toilet paper rolls. Firstly, he stood some distance away
and observed what he was doing. Then he moved closer and sat in
front of him. They appeared to be mirror images of each other. The
boy was squeezing the rolls in his hand. Miłosz watched and did the
same. He precisely mimicked the moves, gestures and facial
expressions of the observed child. This activity lasted for
approximately 5 minutes. Suddenly the observed one looked up and
shouted “Stop mocking me!!! Go away!” After hearing this, Miłosz
became sad, moved away, sat on the carpet and observed other
After this incident, Miłosz walked around the room for some time
(approximately 5 minutes), holding his finger by his mouth. From time
to time he would stop, shake his head and mutter “No no no, this is not
it...” Finally, he approached an adult, looked closely, smiled and stood
before him. He imitated the activities and moves of that person until
the end of the session.
The creator of meanings creates ideas for play by manipulating and
using items, as well as changes the intended use of specific items,
gives them new meanings and senses, renames objects and assumes
various roles. He/she is the creator of the content for play. He/she
understands or creates symbolic uses for items. He/she functions in
play in imaginary worlds and introduces fantasy elements.
Roksana selected several items to play with and started to play at
car workshop. Plastic teaspoons represented screwdrivers and
wrenches, which the girl used to repair damaged cars (small boxes)
and trucks (cans). The girl pressed a plastic spoon onto a cardboard
box, making various sounds, such as trrrrrr, brrrrrr. She grimaced with
effort. She wiped sweat from her forehead, her fringe was wet. Despite
being tired, Roksana put plastic spoons into a bowl with a smile on her
face, saying “Luckily, I've got this toolbox. I don’t know what I would
have done without it.” The girl tore off a piece of cardboard from a big
cardboard box, and placed a small box inside the missing fragment.
She muttered “Here-here-here... repair, repair”. After a short while she
slid the small box out. She pushed it along the rug up to a place where
she laid out colourful ribbons to form a square. She said with a
changed voice “Vehicle ready for pickup. Guarded car park.”
Franek was waving a metal cap, saying that it was an elf on a magic
saucer, who was flying to save his brothers who had been caught by a
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hag (a toilet paper roll). He was very excited, modulated his voice,
jumped up and ran in one place as if he was trying to run from
somebody covered his eyes and said “She won’t catch me! I won’t
get caught! I’m the Super-Elf after all.”
The re-organiser can adopt and observe play rules. He/she has ideas
on how to re-organise play, make it livelier, and change the plot. Re-
organisers present their ideas to other participants. They are
nonconformists and clearly state that they do not like something in the
The girls were playing at restaurant. Suddenly Ola stood up and told
her friends that she would not play like this. She left the group and
brought new items. She said that she was going to bake a cake, and
invited others to join in.
Due to different styles of play, we highlighted several attitudes
different in terms of individual character traits of the participants. In
principle, following Jung, one can state that there are two
psychological types: introverts and extroverts. In addition to these
well-known main types, there are attitudes which stem from them:
pedant, and, in the case of extroverts: adventurer, instructor, and
altruist. It was noted that these attitudes were not disjunctive.
The introvert remains silent throughout the entire duration of the
play. He/she is playing alone, does not engage in interactions, is
reflexive, thinks through his/her actions, and can easily imitate the
activities of other people, but does not engage in verbal contact. He/she
is also distant in spatial and emotional terms.
Krzyś was playing alone throughout the entire session, by arranging
materials next to one another and looking at them. When another boy
sat next to him, he observed him discreetly, but said nothing. He
imitated his friend’s activities in peace and quiet.
The pedant. This attitude is characterised by attaching significance
to the performed activity, doing it precisely, slowly and concentrating
on details.
Dominik was playing at being a cook. He arranged items in rows,
and said “Now I’m ready.” Then, he pretended to be putting on a
cook’s apron and hat. He stood up and put his hands together. He
rubbed his hands carefully on each side. He put a blue ribbon on his
hands, rubbed them a couple of times, and placed his hands in a metal
tin, which imitated rinsing in a sink. He shook off his hands and
pretended to be wiping them with a towel. Then, he turned round,
raising his hands, and lowered them slowly. He checked again whether
all things were arranged evenly. He grabbed a plastic cup and wiped it.
He chose one cap in every colour, examined them carefully on all
sides, blew in them and threw them inside a plastic cup. Another
activity ‒ frying eggs, was performed slowly, with him making a ritual
out every action.
The extrovert is a very social and outspoken person. He/she is also
impulsive, engages in interaction with people of both genders, and acts
in a group.
Kacper was not distanced from new people, adults nor peers alike.
Jointly with a group of friends they agreed to play at war. The boys
agreed on the rules and roles. Kacper presented his ideas for playing to
the boys. When it did not match their expectations, he listed a number
of arguments to convince them. He did not ignore any of the boys, but
established verbal and non-verbal contacts with every one of them; he
blinked, smiled and patted them on the arm.
The adventurer. His/her playing is dynamic, daredevil, full of turns
of action and with some risk. He/she is driven by impulses, sets objects
in motion and creates dynamic events. Adventurers are cheerful, lively
and spontaneous. They can play at war, policemen, shooting and
running, walking a line between safety and danger, taking risks,
expanding the playing area, venturing beyond “the carpet”, and playing
everywhere, in all nooks and crannies. Such behaviour is more
commonly found in boys.
Nikodem vigorously poured out the content of the bag with milk
cartons onto the carpet, giggling. A moment later he ran to the girls.
He bowed gallantly and said “Dear ladies, I need two bowls.” Next he
smiled to thank them. Quickly sliding on his knees he crashed into the
milk cartons, and placed plastic bowls on his and his friend’s heads,
giggling. A moment later he got up, looked around the room, and ran
towards the boys who were playing at war. Along the way he grabbed
several wooden spoons which were lying on the carpet. He shouted
“Hey boys, I’ve got some weapons for you!!!” He handed over the
spoons to the boys and kept one for himself. He fought a quick battle
with one of the boys, jumped around, stamped his feet and turned
around, sometimes he waving the spoon, making such sounds as
“trututututu, brrrrrrrrr, bing-bang”. Then he turned to the girls who
were playing at restaurant and asked for a glass of something stronger
as he was “stricken by great emotions connected with the skirmish he
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had just fought”. The girls gave him a plastic cup filled with colourful
caps. The boy tipped the cup, wiped his mouth with a sleeve, put the
cup away, and ran to the next playing groups.
The instructor. He/she likes to share his/her skills and knowledge
with others, as well as suggests learning, tools and toys to others.
Mikołaj was playing at being a gardener. He was running around the
room with a “hoe” and offered gardening services to other children. No
one liked this suggestion, so the boy offered to become their teacher
“If you don’t know how to make a hoe or a tractor, I can teach you.”
The altruist. He/she cares about the good mood of other people,
solves problems, acts as a peacemaker between arguing individuals,
controls the situation, makes reflections, asks questions, and can give
up his/her well-being for the sake of others.
When Kacper noticed that some of the playing children were
arguing, he stopped what he was doing, and sat or stood between the
arguing parties, trying to help resolve the conflict. He usually
succeeded in reconciling the arguing children. He was sensitive to
social situations and sought to integrate the group, e.g., by approaching
a group of girls and asking “Why aren’t you playing with the boys?”
He also asked adults “Ma'am, he tripped, is he going to be okay?
Ma'am, Dominik hit Ola. He should not be doing this, that's what I told
him.” When he was playing with a wooden spoon, which replicated a
sword, he was approached by a peer who wanted to borrow it. Kacper
became sad, looked at the item, clenched it tightly to his chest, and
placed it in the boy’s palm, saying “Take good care of it.”
Children can engage in explorative activities and assume various roles
in heuristic play. They can be passive observers, active participants or
lone explorers, as well as act in groups, initiate explorative interaction,
or respond to the actions or invitations of others. They are always those
who learn. The presented typification is an attempt at a deeper
understanding of children’s play, cognitive needs, inclinations and
potential, and the differences between individuals.
Heuristic play should be viewed, following Dewey, as “hard mental
work” (www. encyklopedia dzieciństwa). By assuming the role of an
individual who explores his/her surroundings, and the properties of
known and newly discovered items, the child makes new observations
and gathers impressions, penetrates the surroundings and repeats
physical experiences. He/she extends his/her physical and logical-
mathematical knowledge, and learns about him/herself. This specific
type of exploration, coupled with the desire to present the obtained
skills, e.g. of counting, naming, creating classes, rhyming or making
decors, makes it possible to get to know the cognitive possibilities,
skills and fascinations of the child. Therefore, it performs a diagnostic
function. While playing, children show their skills, which makes
possible for adults to evaluate their cognitive functioning and ability to
operate at the symbolic level. Analysing the quality of cognitive
contact between children and “waste” materials allows us to explicitly
state that in this type of play children hone their senses, develop
mathematical thinking, specify, distinguish, classify, create sets,
associate items with their names, and create cognitive and regulatory
During childhood, creativity is manifested mainly in playing, when
the child can use its ability to explore, transform and play with
meanings. Specifying in the described play the various conceptual
attitudes provides an insight into the nature of creativity. It makes it
possible to determine the location of the child’s development within a
creative continuum, where we can find such attitudes as lack of interest
in playing, imitating, and the individual creation of senses and
meanings. Distinguishing between these attitudes also has a practical
value. It facilitates a better understanding of the specificity of the stage
of experience-gathering and the learning phase. For example, it shows
the value of mimicry.
Furthermore, another important characteristic of creative people
becomes visible in heuristic play. This is the ability to concentrate and
become fascinated by a given activity. Creators are often absorbed in
the task, go with the flow of action, experience a surge, and become
immune to sensations and stimuli other than those they can influence
themselves or which they created. While this attitude was not
determined and described in greater detail, it was noticeable in all
sessions in the majority of the children.
The third aspect of the analysis allowed us to note that the
individual traits of character and temperament determine the direction
and plan of experimentation and play. Therefore, we observed
introverts and extroverts, distanced creators, pedants, and outsiders, as
well as enthusiastic and changeable individuals, adventurers, and
children who took the initiative and sought social content. These
observations facilitate the understanding of the phenomenon of various
attitudes displayed by children, ways of learning and gathering initial
Barbara Bilewicz-Kuźnia
physical, logical and social experiences. Children have various needs
and express their emotions, feelings and observations in a number of
ways. It turns out that traits of character and temperament, such as
motivation, zeal for work, reliability and vitality differentiate between
even the youngest creators, which allows us to recognise their
characteristic and different behaviour, and note different attitudes, or
even emotional and social types. The specified experimental
approaches, with provided examples, also relate to the emotional and
social characteristics of creative people, as described by the
The proposed classification surely does not exhaust the topic in
question, but rather is a beginning of the road to its thorough
exploration. It is also worth searching for and presenting other
approaches and attitudes, specifying additional categorisation criteria.
Of note is the fact that the described approaches apply to both genders;
however, it was observed that some traits and behaviour might concern
more often one of the genders (e.g. the explorer applying more often to
boys). Furthermore, it was observed that traits and attitudes are not
disjunctive, but they tend to intertwine and overlap. Determining some
of them requires in-depth observations, and some are very difficult to
clearly discern and specify. As in any other study, here we too have
some doubts. These, as well as other doubts, can be resolved by more
or less similar, or in-depth, research observations.
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
People Under Three translates child development theory and research into everyday practice. Focussing on the group day care of very young children, it is designed specifically for those who look after them day by day, as well as policy makers, administrators and the managers of child care services. All the practical ideas in the book have been developed and tested in nurseries and family centres. They include detailed guidance on educational play for babies and toddlers and how to care for children's emotional needs. The book also explores the difficult area of child protection and working with parents and children with a variety of problems. People Under Three is an established text for all those training to work with young children or managing day care facilities. This new edition has been completely updated to take account of the expansion and radical changes which have taken place in child care provision since the book was first published and includes new chapters on assessing the quality of care and short-term and intermittent care. © 1994, 2004 Sonia Jackson and Elinor Goldschmied. All rights reserved.
Fourteen chapters in this volume (see 27: 645) cover the following topics: meaning of art in education; meaning of creative activity in elementary education; first stages of self-expression; first representational attempts; achievement of a form concept; dawning realism; pseudorealistic stage; period of decision; adolescent art; meaning of aesthetic criteria; case of the gifted child; therapeutic aspects of art education; summary of all stages, and lastly a chapter of references. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Reviews the book, Play, Dreams and Imitation in Childhood by Jean Piaget (1951). The current work by Piaget is another stimulating and provocative contribution to the literature on the development of children's thinking. In this well-translated volume, Piaget has as his basic goal an explanation of the evolution of "representative activity," which is "characterized by the fact that it goes beyond the present, extending the field of adaptation both in space and in time." Such an activity is essential in reflective thought as well as in operational thought. Two theses are presented by Piaget in the book: (a) the transition from rudimentary, primitive, and situational assimilation of experience to the operational and reflective adaptation of experience can be studied by the analysis of imitative behavior and play activity of the child from very early months of the life; and (b) various forms of mental activity--imitation, symbolic activity, and cognitive representation--are interacting. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Learning through Play for Babies, Toddlers and Young Children
  • Tina Bruce
Bruce, Tina (2011). Learning through Play for Babies, Toddlers and Young Children. Hodder Educatio Hachette UK Company.
The Nature of Creativity
  • Joy P Guilford
Guilford, Joy P. (1960). "The Nature of Creativity". Western Washington College Bulletin.
Play in the Under-Fives: Form Development and Function
  • Corrine Hutt
Hutt, Corrine (1979). Play in the Under-Fives: Form Development and Function. In J. G. Howells (ed.), Modern Perspectives in the Psychiatry of Infancy. New York: Brunner/Mercel.