Playful Literacies and Practices of Making in Children’s Imaginaries

Authored by: Karen E. Wohlwend , Beth A. Buchholz , Carmen Liliana Medina

Handbook of Writing, Literacies, and Education in Digital Cultures

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138206304
eBook ISBN: 9781315465258
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter, we examine literacy research that looks beyond print to recognize the action texts in young children’s media production and to better understand the mutually constitutive relationships among play and making in contemporary childhoods. How do these areas merge in children’s classroom productions in digital puppetry, toymaking, drama, animation, filmmaking, and crafting of artifacts? Our focus is on shared imaginative production in classroom cultures to understand play and making as powerful literacies with value in their own right, producing unapologetically printless texts assembled with physical actions and materials that move and recruit across digital networks. We draw upon contemporary research on imagination and literacies as social action, looking at the nexus of play and making as a site of collective meaning-making and cultural production, that both contests and reinscribes boundaries in digital cultures, resonates and ruptures dominant discourses, and mobilizes youth and materials. Play and making are literacies that run on peer culture passions, often centered on electronic games and digital play with popular media. But it is also important to note that it is not necessary for children to be online or to be using new technologies to be deeply entangled in imaginative labor as young participants in global flows and digital cultures. In the following sections, we survey emerging theories and research that show the impact on children’s learning and participation in classrooms of playful literacies and practices of making within the collective imaginaries that circulate in and through childhoods.

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