Play activities in the classroom: A window into seven-to-eight-year-olds' thinking competence

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A significant body of research has examined the role of play in children's learning and development. There is little research to date that has studied seven- to eight-year-olds' thinking competence in their play activities. The diversity, unpredictability, and spontaneity of children's play pose a challenge to the analysis and assessment of children's thinking competence in their play activities. This paper reports on a qualitative study that employed a cognitive task analysis approach to investigate children's thinking competence in the play activities of 28 7–8-year-olds in a New Zealand primary classroom. Case examples are discussed to demonstrate the kind of insights that could be obtained into emergent and unanticipated aspects of children's thinking competence. It is argued that play activities provide a window into children's thinking competence and offer meaningful contexts for children to exercise their thinking skills at this stage of formal schooling.

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Journal Article

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