How Boys Like Toy Cars

Delivery Method: 

Two boys, almost three, spend 15 minutes of playing with small toy cars. Can we find value in such ordinary moments, that is, from a learning perspective? One hears general claims about learning to play together, taking turns, pretending, being creative, and figuring out inclines. Too often the claims are not mapped to specific actions; they are simply made as if common sense. Even if these claims do make sense, we still do not know what any of them mean unless we use actual behaviors to define them. Furthermore, when we take the time to specify the behavior, we learn that there are dozens of different ways to play together, to take turns, to pretend, etc. and the differences in these ways begin to reveal what we call development, as opposed to learning. We have analyzed and edited seven minutes of this play episode with a eye toward important dimensions of development – inventing symbols, maintaining co-play, and finding function in form. We take note of how the cars, as small replica objects, are particularly suited for the variations in play that we see, and we differentiate cognitive styles that may be gender related. Your download will include this more extensive analysis as a separate text file. We hope you will see the boys' familiar actions in a new light.