Tyler Uses a Chainsaw

Delivery Method: 

Pretend play fosters creativity by encouraging young children to invent and manipulate symbols. The creative use of symbols during play supports later forms of symbolic thinking including language development and mathematics. In this Videative, three-year-old Tyler exhibits amazing powers of observation as he reenacts the actions of his father using a chainsaw to cut down tree branches. Using only a plastic tent stake, a bicycle pump, and his knack for creating buzzing sounds with his lips, Tyler convinces us that pretend-play draws on sophisticated processes of symbolization.

Tyler lower the bicycle pump to show how the cut goes deeper and deeper into the wood as he continues sawing. Next, he pulls the cord on the chainsaw three times and on the fourth pull begins making a buzzing sound to signal the motor has turned on. In true-to-life fashion, Tyler convincingly represents his understanding that the motor does not always start with the first pull. By forcefully pulling his arm back from the shoulder, he also indicates that the cord must be pulled with strength in order to turn the engine over. While reaching for the orange stake, Tyler lowers the pitch of his buzzing to indicate that the motor has slipped into idle. After placing the stake (saw) against the bicycle pump and starting to saw, he shifts to a high-pitched buzzing sound. Remarkably, Tyler uses variations of the same buzzing sound effect to differentiate the chainsaw at work from the chainsaw at rest. Tyler uses his symbols with flexibility as he transforms the bicycle pump from tree to chainsaw to tree.

By studying the entire downloable Videative we see how Tyler invents actions and sounds to represent other conditions necessary to work a chainsaw. We appreciate how these unhurried moments of pretend-play afford children opportunities for learning to use symbols in increasingly complex ways.

Keywords: Threes, Props, Child-Object, Pretense, Function, Gestures, videative

Length of videative: 1 text page, 1 video subclip

Length of stand-alone master video clip: 4 minutes, 6 seconds