Young Children's Journey into a World of Play with Open-ended Materials: A Case Study of the Creative Play Club

Open Access
Al-mansour, Monirah A
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 23, 2014
Committee Members:
  • James Ewald Johnson, Dissertation Advisor
  • James F Nolan Jr., Committee Member
  • Stephanie Cayot Serriere, Committee Member
  • Christine Thompson, Special Member
  • Creative Play
  • Open-ended Materials
  • Play
  • peer culture
  • imagination
This research is based on previously conducted naturalistic descriptive observation of 13 children ages 6–8 years using open-ended materials in their play at the Creative Play Club (CPC) in spring 2012. The research carefully examines and analyzes how four boys and nine girls in the CPC used open-ended materials in their play over 8 weeks. One aim was to evaluate changes in the quality of play over time. A second aim was to analyze the influence of various factors on children’s social and nonsocial play behaviors. Those factors were the materials’ characteristics and affordances and the social activity setting. The research gave special attention to the possible influences that flatten expression in play and those influences that might reignite play expression within or across CPC sessions. The research generated evidence that children’s drawing, manipulating objects, and reflecting are meaning making. Interpretations of data were guided by an activity setting model, affordance theory, and a multimodality and meaning-making conceptual framework. The main findings were that the CPC and the case study are good conduits for exploring the possibilities and challenges that emerge from children’s experiences with open-ended materials in play with other children.