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Children's explorations of the concept of spinning in preschool: Science learning in mediated activity

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Abstract

This paper examines how children explore the concept of spinning during a preschool project. It takes a cultural-historical approach, and analyzes how artifacts can be used in development of abstract concepts. In line with the pedagogical goals teachers employ these in learning activities during the project in line with their pedagogical goals. Children encounter the activities with different linguistic and perceptual means; there is, however, across the project a shift towards learning activities that promote verbal explanations. The interrelation of verbal and perceptual means, suggest ways in how children dynamically develop abstract concepts out of perceptual knowledge in activities with appropriate artifacts and teacher scaffolding.

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... Learning in the ECE classroom is mediated through children's interactions with their teacher, between them and with the material (artifacts) and intellectual tools (concepts) that define this environment (Samuelsson 2018). Scientific representations, such as the ones examined here, can as well be considered cultural tools that mediate learning (Fleer and Pramling 2015). ...
... The overall analysis that was conducted examined (a) the transcripts of the sessions and (b) children's drawings. This selection was guided by two key understandings: on the one hand, discursive interactions and drawings play a core role in building knowledge (e.g., Fleer and Pramling 2015;Kim and Wilkinson 2019;Samuelsson 2018); on the other hand, in qualitative research, the analysis methods need to be adapted to the Fig. 1 Timeline of Snails and Clouds Projects' drawings. Upper row: snail drawings (S1-S18). ...
... These symbols are appropriated by children because they are cultural tools they have been in touch with along the years that can be found in their classroom and are appropriated to explain concepts in such a setting in which they can be understood. Moreover, these symbols are used to represent science concepts, that is "intellectual tools" (Samuelsson 2018) that are created within the ECE classroom culture in order to account for scientific phenomena. & The accuracy and attention to the detail in children's representations increased from the first to third year: They used the iconic mode of representation more precisely. ...
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We report a longitudinal study carried out along 3 years in an early childhood education (ECE) classroom in which we examined children’s (aged 3–6) engagement with science representations. The research questions are as follows: (1) How do children’s science representations develop from ECE1 to ECE3? (2) What are the features and affordances of the teacher’s scaffolding of the production of science representations and how is it facilitated from the first to the third year of ECE? The participants were 21 children and their teacher. The group was involved in long-term science projects that lasted for 5 months each. Sessions (N = 30) were recorded and children’s drawings (N = 487) gathered. Data were analyzed using discourse and content analyses, coupled with an analysis of the intensity of scaffolding. The results indicate that children’s representations of science phenomena became more complex along several dimensions. We have identified teacher’s scaffolding strategies which supported children’s increasing autonomy in producing representations. Implications are drawn for teaching science at the ECE level as well as for further research.
... Indeed, the situations under study in this paper are only a part of the experiences children have with the concept of spinning, as also shown by Samuelsson (2018). Edwards et al. (2017) contemplate how the digital tools only equate to a part of the total experiences children encounter during their day. ...
... 3. For results regarding other activities during the project, see Samuelsson (2018). ...
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This paper studies the scaffolding of conceptual development for children aged 4–5 years old during a science project at a Swedish preschool. It specifically examines how bodily knowledge and language are used in interaction, and how conceptual knowledge can be scaffolded with the use of external tools and artefacts. The science project was tracked for seven weeks and the analytical focus is on situations where a computer and a projected screen are used. The study shows how interactions afforded by the set-up provide a virtual-physical setting where teachers and children can interact using both language and bodily modes. As such, it provided an interactional space where teachers can scaffold children’s tactile understandings towards conceptual knowledge by building on the children’s prior experiences, and knowledge is cumulated over time during the project. This is accomplished by focusing attention on the topic and through the use of tools in interaction. Possible implications and uses for early childhood education are discussed in the light of these results.
... This process is theoretically outlined to be a form of cultural niche construction. The paper empirically draws on data sets from three ethnographical projects (Ledin and Samuelsson, 2017;Samuelsson, 2018Samuelsson, , 2020, conducted at low-socioeconomic status (SES) areas in Sweden where a majority of children are bilingual or multilingual. It is suggested that preschools can provide structured environments, with affordances that can deliberately be used to design settings that support learning for children emplaced in a new cultural and linguistic setting. ...
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This paper explores how preschools can be purposefully designed to aid cultural learning through guided play practices. In recent literature, there has been a renowned interest in the role of the exogenous environment in psychological processes, including learning. The idea that the design of preschools can meaningfully be seen as cultural niche construction and that guided play practices in these environments can aid the preparation for cultural action is promoted, and a theoretical framework is presented. The empirical data draw from a synthesis from three ethnographic research sites in multilingual communities, and data are used to explore how cultural affordances are used in designed environments as part of guided play practices. The results indicate how niche construction of affordances aid cultural learning and is achieved through both direct guided play interaction between teachers and children and also in the way of the indirect design of environments that is incorporated in children's peer play. It is discussed what this means for play research as well as for guided play practices that aim to promote cultural learning.
... 415). Similarly, Samuelsson (2018) suggests that children exploring the physical concept of spinning "reason with their bodies as an integral tool in their explanations" (p. 100, italics in original). ...
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