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    Varied Perspectives on Play and Learning, pages 3753Copyright 2013 by Information Age PublishingAll rights of reproduction in any form reserved. 37

    Chapter 4

    PlAy As the MAin RoAd inChildRens tRAnsition

    to sChoolstig Brostrm

    Aarhus University, Denmark

    intRoduCtion

    This chapter deals with childrens transition to school and play. The first part focuses on transition and shows a number of problems deriving from lack of continuity between preschool and school. One solution to these problems is to create transition strategies and activities. Besides a number of transition activities, the author argues for play as a pivot for successful transition, with close attention to specific dialogical reading that precedes play. Thus play is not seen as childrens own free-flow play, but as an educa-tional activity in which the preschool teacher has an active role.

    tRAnsition ConCePts And stRAtegies

    Childrens transition to school is a major political and educational topic. For some children, transition from one educational setting to another

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    presents problems, and for that reason practitioners, researchers, and poli-cymakers focus on this issue. The reason to support childrens transition has at least two coherent dimensions: (1) to support each childs best in-terests and (2) to make the best conditions for all childrens school success and lifelong learning.

    The word transition is rather open. It deals with border crossing, a physi-cal movement from one physical context to another. Dunlop and Fabian (2002) define transition as being the passage from one place, stage, state, style or subject to another over time (p. 148). Related specifically to early childhood, educational transition can be defined as the time between the first visit in the new educational context and the final settling in (Fabian, 2004; Kagan & Neuman, 1998).

    During childrens first six years they engage in many transition experi-ences, and most children will be involved in a number of vertical forms of transitions: (1) From being safe and secure in their family, with well-known rhythm and routines, and with a secure attachment to their close adults, infants may enter their first educational setting, the crche or preschool (Clark, 2007; Dalli, 2002; Griebel & Niesel, 2002; Kienig, 2002). (2) During the next five years, many preschool children transit from one age group to another. (3) At the age of five or six, children experience the most ex-tensive educational transition, namely the transition to school (Brostrm, 2002a, 2003, 2007; Dockett & Perry, 2007; Dunlop, 2002; Margetts, 2002). (4) In combination with the transition to school, almost at the same time children enter into leisure-time center or after-school program.

    Besides these vertical transitions, two forms of horizontal transition must be added: first, the daily transition where children twice a day move from their home to crche or preschool and back again. Via this transition chil-dren experience quite different routines, values and patterns of interac-tions. Second is the daily transition from home to leisure-time center and to school and, later on, the same travel back (Johansson, 2007).

    PRoBleMs in ChildRens tRAnsition to sChool

    Because children have experiences with transition from their early years, one might suggest that they have accumulated transition competencies, making them transition experts. However, international research on start-ing school suggests that moving from preschool to school can be challeng-ingand for some children traumatic. This may be the case especially for children with less-than-optimal circumstances, such as children with spe-cial education needs and children from dysfunctional families (Brostrm, 2002a; Napier, 2002; Shore, 1998).

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    STBRGul seddelcorrect: Kienig

    STBRGul seddelMargetts is correct

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    play as the Main road inChildrens transition to School 39

    Children experience many changes and differences as they start school. First of all, they change identity from being a child in preschool to being a student in school, which means they are expected to behave in a certain way, to learn and understand the rules and language of the classroom, and to read the teacher (Fabian, 2007; Merry, 2007). Moreover, Fabian (2002) and Pianta (2004) mention a number of challenges children meet when they enter school, including a larger physical environment in which it can be dif-ficult to orientate themselves. In preschool, the child belongs to the eldest group of children and, at school, this suddenly changes as school starters become the youngest and are required to relate to older children. In school, the social environment is much more complex, with greater numbers of children and much more competition. In school, there are fewer adults, which means less individual attention and interaction with adults than previ-ously. Compared with preschool, children in school have less autonomy but are expected to be more independent and capable of self-regulation. There is a shift in the academic demands of children as they meet new unfamiliar challenges. In sum, using Piantas (2004) words, transition to school is a time when the demands go up and the support goes down.

    Many, but not all, children find the abovementioned changes very chal-lenging, resulting in feelings of insecurity and nervousness. While individ-ual and isolated change may be manageable, the child can be overpowered by the amount of simultaneous change. When this happens, the child is assailed by too many changes and is not able to experience the transition journey as a natural and smooth movement from one context to another. International transition literature describes this problem as lack of continuity between preschool and school (Brostrm, 2003; Dunlop & Fabian, 2002).

    Fabian (2002) describes three categories of differences and discontinui-ties between preschool and school. These, and two more I have added, are:

    Physical discontinuity is seen where the physical surroundings are very different in size, location, and the number of people.

    Children experience social discontinuities when their identity changes, as do their social network and the adults with whom they interact.

    Philosophical discontinuity is expressed when children experience quite a new approach to teaching and learning. Research from dif-ferent countries illustrates major educational differences between preschool and school, sometimes leading to educational contra-dictions. In general, preschool stresses play, and deemphasizes an active teacher role in supporting childrens learning. The opposite is so in school, as children are expected to participate in teacher-ini-tiated activities that hold school-orientated content, such as reading, writing, and math (Brostrm, 2002a). Such a contradiction forces children to make enormous changes.

    STBRGul seddelabove mentioned(two words)

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    Communication discontinuity refers to the lack of communication between parents, preschool teachers, leisure-time pedagogues, and school teachers. A Danish evaluation report shows that preschool teachers have limited knowledge of what happens in school, and in general they think school has not changed since their own school time. Preschool teachers believe that, in school, children are seated the whole day. They suggest that learning in school is labor-orient-ed, while learning in preschool is free and playful. Correspondingly, other teachers understanding of life in preschool is vague. They see preschool as a place where children are mostly cared for in a traditional sense, but usually do not conceptualize the educational culture of preschool.

    As a fifth and final category, discontinuity in childrens views of preschool and school appears. In general, children have a rather balanced view of school. However, some Nordic studies show that many preschool children have an image of school as a place where children are sit-ting quietly at their desk learning how to read, write, and do math-ematics (Einarsdttir, 2003; Lillemyr, 2001). Moreover, a number of children reported being worried about not being able to meet the schools expectations. In the Norwegian study of Lillemyr (2001), a third of the interviewed children expressed nervousness and also fear related to starting school. In addition, two Danish studies interviewing more than 700 six-year-old children showed that 12% seemed to be insecure and nervous, and 24% expressed an expecta-tion characterized by a scolding teacher who commanded children to sit still and be quiet. Five percent of these children expected to meet an authoritarian school (Brostrm, 2002a).

    Children with such views are at high risk for school-related anxiety and nervousness. This can drain childrens energy to such an extent that they cannot mobilize their existing skills and talents when they enter school. Re-search has shown that problems at the start of school can pursue children over many years of school life (Ladd & Price, 1987). For that reason, in the next section, some possible transitions activities are described.

    tRAnsition ACtivities

    Because childrens transition to school can be overloaded with chang-es, professionals have important roles in supporting children to make a smooth transition to schoolto feel suitable in school. This is to feel secure, relaxed, and comfortable in the new environment; to have a feeling of well-being and belonging.

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    play as the Main road inChildrens transition to School 41

    Research on school start shows that children who feel relaxed and well-adjusted in school are much more likely than children who do not feel well adjusted to experience school success beyond preschool. Conversely, academic, social, and emotional difficulties in the first year in school persist into later life (Ladd & Price, 1987).

    A smooth and successful transition requires attention to several related elements (Brostrm, 2002a):

    1. The extent of the childs school readiness 2. Support from parents, family, and community 3. A system of high-quality preschools 4. A teacher who is able to take the childs perspectives, interests, and

    needs into account 5. Continuity in curricula 6. Communication between home and school 7. A welcoming environment for families and children.

    These related elements combine the most important areas in the childs life before and after starting school and support the transition. They also prompt a number of transition strategies (Dunlop & Fabian, 2002; Neu-mann, 2002):

    An important strategy to ease childrens transition is to build pedagogical and program continuity between preschool and school. Most European coun-tries have decided national curricula or frameworks for early childhood education and care, outlining general aims and objectives, which are in accordance with aims, goals, and objectives described in school curricula. However, though there is expressed a continuity at the rhetorical level, of-ten this continuity is not expressed in everyday life in preschool and school.

    A second strategy is the existence of a superior leading forum that ex-presses leadership and the will to organize from an administration level. This includes both strategies and initiatives undertaken by the municipality ad-ministration and the head of the school, together with the leadership of the connected preschools and leisure-time centers in order to construct the means for cooperation, to provide shared meetings, and to give equal working conditions and joint education. Following on from this, there is a need for structural continuity. This is difficult when policy and provision for children in the preschool years and children attending school fall under different administrative auspices (Neumann, 2002). However, some coun-tries, including Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, have managed to com-bine responsibility for early childhood education and care and compulsory schooling, in order to combine care and learning, and to realize the idea of lifelong learning.

    STBRGul seddelonly one nNeuman

    STBRGul seddelNeuman

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    The third strategy is at the personal level to establish interaction between all involved persons to secure professional continuity (Neumann, 2002). In many countries, policies and practice require preschool, leisure-time cen-ters, and schools to collaborate. For example, in 2006 the Danish School Start Commission recommended the following transition activities:

    1. School groups in preschool 2. The school inviting the parents for meetings and visits 3. School and preschool having lots of mutual visits during the year 4. Production of a joint document defining school readiness 5. Meetings with parents about school readiness 6. Conferences on childrens readiness 7. Children and preschool teachers being involved in lessons in school 8. During spring, shared projects between neighborhood preschools 9. A teacher from preschool following the group of children in school 10. Formation of classes with regard to childrens friendship 11. Teaching in school on the basis of childrens portfolios

    Finally, Neumann (2002) adds a fourth form of continuity, namely the fact that the parents are a central part of a proper transition, and thus there is a need for continuity with families and homes (Johansson, 2002; Perry, Dock-ett, & Howard, 2000).

    Building BRidges

    The transition activities and strategies listed above make up an outline of a transition model where all involved professionals and parents play an im-portant role in supporting childrens transition to school. However, from a critical point of view, one might argue that too much support can lead to helplessness. For that reason, one should trust in the childrens agency (James, Jenks, & Prout, 1998), which means to understand the child as a goal-seeking person who is able to set her own purpose, to deliberate, to reflect, to judge and to involve herself in action in different contexts. Understanding childrens agency assumes that children are resilient and competent and able to make use of their transition experiences. However, to make use of their own competencies, children must achieve a certain lev-el of language development, self-awareness, and conscious reflection. The child needs to have knowledge about why, how, and what he has learned in preschool in order to act independently and consciously in the new envi-ronment. In other words, there is the need for a development of childrens meta-cognition or, according to Leontev (1978; 1981), the scope of their motivation to learn, or the development of a learning motive.

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    play as the Main road inChildrens transition to School 43

    Research based in a cultural-historical approach (Baumer, Ferholt & Lecusay, 2005; Bodrova & Leong, 2007; Elkonin, 1980; Leontev, 1978; Vy-gotsky, 1978) has shown that play and a play-oriented curriculum involv-ing dialogical reading, followed by play, contribute to the abovementioned competencies. This opens the way to make use of play in goal-oriented edu-cational transition practices.

    As already described, a successful transition to school consists of two in-terrelated dimensions. On the one hand, practical transition activities and, on the other hand, the development of a new psychological structure in the childs mind: a learning motive.

    In next section I will define the concept of play and, following this, pres-ent the method of dialogical reading, before combining dialogical read-ing and play in order to expand childrens language and the establishment of a learning motivation at the time of transition to school.

    theoRy of PlAy

    From a cultural-historical understanding of play, it is assumed that im-portant changes take place in the preschool childs psyche through play, which paves the way for the childs transition to a new level of development (Leontev, 1981). Play activity has a number of benefits. Through interac-tion with peers and adults, the child deals with signs and symbols in order to represent the culture. Signs and symbols also influence the development of higher mental functions (Leontev, 1978; Vygotsky, 1978).

    When children enter role-play (symbol-play, pretend play, make-believe play, sociodramatic-play), they make use of symbols. They replace persons and objects from reality with a symbolic representation. A stick symbolizes a gun or a sword, and they themselves pretend to be a policeman, a mother, or a superhero from the outer space.

    Vygotsky states that play is characterized by the fact that in play a child creates an imaginary situation (1978, p. 93). The child is able to symbolize the reality. According to Vygotsky, the reason for this is motivation. The child strives to do what the adults are doing. The child wants to drive Mums car or fly to the moon in a spacecraft. This is not possible, but the child can fulfill this desire through play. [T]he preschool child enters in an imaginary, illu-sory world in which the unrealizable desires can be realized, and this world is what we call play (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 93).

    In play, children are able to master ideas and to take more advanced ac-tions than is possible for them in non-play situations. The child raises the demand on himself and brings himself into the zone of proximal develop-ment (Vygotsky, 1978), which starts new processes of development. Accord-ing to Vygotsky, not only will the independent actions in the zone of proximal

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    development support new developments, but also the childs imitations have a similar effect. The child is able to imitate actions that go beyond his or her possibilities, but not without limits.

    However, the optimistic idea that play has a leading and developmental function (Leontev, 1978) has been over-interpreted, and the (often misun-derstood) phrases: in play a child always behaves beyond its average age and play always leads to a more advanced level of development have been discussed and criticized. For example, van der Veer and Valsiner (1991) argue that play does not in itself contribute to the childs development. From their point of view, play has a development potential only when the play environ-ment has the potential to challenge children to cross their zone of proximal development. This calls for social interaction where the preschool teacher or other adult plays an active role, challenges the child, and provokes him or her to create new meanings and understandings. Such a form of play goes beyond the traditional role-play and is called border play (Leontev, 1981).

    Based on the above understanding of play I will present some research on dialogical reading and childrens language acquisition and develop-ment. The idea is to connect play and dialogical reading in order to con-struct a play method which crosses the zone of proximal development and can serve as a tool for all childrens successful transition for school.

    PlAy As Pivot foR suCCessful tRAnsition

    In transition practice, preschool teachers often read high-quality picture books in order to support childrens language acquisition. This is based in research showing coherence between adults reading aloud and the develop-ment of childrens language and also later reading skills (Robbins & Ehri, 1994; Snchal & LeFevre, 2002; Silvn, Ahtola, & Niemi, 2003; Wells, 1986).

    However, new research shows a stronger effect when reading is followed by conversations about the story, followed by aesthetic activities like play and drawing. Whitehurst and colleagues have shown that dialogical reading not only has an effect on childrens vocabulary, but also on their narrative competencies (Lever & Snchal, 2010; Whitehurst, Arnold, Epstein, An-gell, Smith, & Fischel, 1994).

    dialogical Reading

    In dialogical reading, children are challenged to listen to the story and are invited to speak about the story, which provides an opportunity to make use of words and sentences from the book. They not only imitate sentences from the book, but also engage in selective imitation (Whitehurst & Vasta,

    STBRGul seddelagain I am unsecure. I ask: is "they" missing? Well a sentence like:.... the book, but are also engaged in...?

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    play as the Main road inChildrens transition to School 45

    1975). For example, if children are asked to repeat a sentence that is more difficult than they are able to manage, in order to make sense, they will integrate what they have heard and adjust the sentence at their own level. Based on this knowledge, Whitehurst and colleagues set up the CIP hypoth-esis, Comprehension, Imitation and Production, to express the idea: First the child is able to understand the word without being able to produce the word or sentence; at the next step, the child is able to imitate the word or sentence via a selective imitation (that is not an exact reproduction); and finally the child independently manages the word or sentence, and she is able to play with the word or sentence in new contexts.

    Dialogical reading is based on the assumption that childrens language acquisition is affected by three techniquesnamely, practice, feed-back, and scaffoldingin order to construct a zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978). This is in accordance with the work of Tomasello (1999) who shows that childrens communicative competencies are embedded in cultural learning. Via general sociocultural skills like imitation, shared atten-tion, categorization, symbolic thinking, and understanding of other people as intentional persons, the child becomes able to appropriate cultural tools and symbols that are used in the childs specific world (Vygotsky, 1978).

    dialogical Reading and Play

    Dialogical reading has an effect on childrens language development in general. Changes are noted in increased vocabulary, language comprehen-sion plus communicative competence, and also in relation to their narra-tive competences (Lever & Snchal, 2010; Whitehurst et al., 1994). The effect seems to be increased when the reading of the story is followed by different forms of verbal dialogue and by role playing and drawing (An-dresen, 2005; Anning, 2003; Baumer et al., 2005; Pellegrini & Galda, 1998; Silvn et al. 2003).

    Inspired by Gunilla Lindqvist (1995) and Vygotsky (1978), an American study (Baumer et al., 2005) made up a play world based on a story, which the preschool teachers and children captured once a week and played together in this fantasy world. Children were prompted to reflect on the relation be-tween the play world, fantasy world, their pretend world and the real world. Compared with a control group, the experimental group achieved a higher level of narrative competencies.

    Based on a Vygotskian approach, Bodrova and Leong (2007) have gener-ated a range of adult guided play activitiessuch as sociodramatic playin order to promote childrens literacy. In the program Tools of Mind, Bodrova and Leong (2007) describe 40 Vygosky-inspired activities which have been shown to have a positive effect on childrens development. Also a numbers

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    of studies (such as Neeley, Neeley, Justen, & Tipton-Summer, 2001) have used scripted play, where children carry through dialogues on visits to res-taurants, hospitals, and the like to demonstrate effects on childrens lan-guage development. Another study (Klein, Moses, & Jean-Baptiste, 2010) investigated childrens involvement in scripted play, free play, and the re-telling of a story, concluding that these experiences contribute to childrens ability to use complex sentences, supporting Leungs (2008) conclusions.

    To sum up, there might be a basis to create a play-based curriculum with a combination of reading, dialogue, and play. In the following section this idea will be elaborated.

    Play embedded in dialogical Reading

    In my understanding, play connected to dialogical reading can be seen as a form of border play. In dialogical reading, the children influence both the content of the dialogues and the drawing and play. However, the pre-school teacher or other adult also has an active role. She leads the conserva-tion about the book, puts forward questions, and organizes both the draw-ing and play sessions. In some play sessions, the children themselves set up play episodes related to the reading; in others, the preschool teacher orga-nizes the frame and the children fill out the frame. Sometimes the teacher acts as play leader/supporter and organizes play in advanced defined play scenes. Other times, she may be a player.

    However, regardless of forms of play organization, the preschool teacher has to be very attentive and sensitive to both children and the play pro-cess. She has to be aware of the characterization of play, while at the same time not neglecting the soul of play. Four dimensions (Bateson, 1972; Levy, 1978; Lillemyr, 2009) seem to characterize (role) play:

    Play is intrinsically motivated, involving feelings of enjoyment, moti-vations is a strong dimension.

    Play puts reality aside, suspension of realityfreedom to imagine, use of creative abilities. The child knows it is make-believe play. The child cannot fail.

    The child himself has control of what happens. He can take initia-tives, chose roles; the child can decide.

    Play is characterized by interactions and communication. The child understands the signal that this is play (Bateson, 1972).

    Many play researchers and preschool teachers have interpreted these di-mensions to mean that play must be a matter for children without adult in-fluence. Thus, free-flow play has been a hallmark of play in early childhood

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    play as the Main road inChildrens transition to School 47

    (Lillemyr, 2009) accompanied by warnings against extended play-directed pedagogy (Heinsohn & Knieper 1975). However, during the last decade, re-searchers and practitioners have argued for greater adult involvement in play in recognition of the role of play to promote educational goals (Brostrm, 1999; Dockett & Fleer, 1999; Lillemyr, 2003; Lindqvist, 1995; Singer, Golinkof, & Hirsh-Pasek, 2006; Smilansky & Shefatya, 1990; Vedeler, 1997).

    In this instance, the role of the adult is to play with children not as a teacher but as a play partner. Although adults never can play as a child, they can act playfully, based on knowledge both of childrens development and the essence of play. According to Leontev (1981), the preschool teacher has to understand and respect the dynamic and legality of the play, reflecting a proper respect for both children and play (Lillemyr, 2009, p. 152).

    Based on reading sessions and dialogues about a story, it is possible to create play sessions that on the one hand relate to the story and, on the other hand, go beyond this. This is seen in play where the child imitates a role or sequence from the story and transforms and expands this in new ways. This is not merely reproduction of roles and actions; this is creation of quite new dimensions and, with that, new moments of learning can appear. According to Engestrm (1987), new knowledge, skills, and actions often emerge through such activities. Engestrm names this kind of learning activity learning by expanding. However, to achieve such learning, children need to be provided with the raw materialsfor example, participating in field trips, reading quality literature, and engaging in interesting dialogues with adults. This is exactly what dialogical reading provides.

    Using different kinds of play, border play or expansive play (Brostrm, 1999) like frame-play, aesthetic theme play, and drama-play, the boundaries of traditional role-play will be crossed. Such kinds of play can be seen as an activity situated between Leontevs (1981) concepts of play and learning. Thus it can be described as a transitory activity that may have the potential to enrich the individual child to support the development towards a learning motive (Leontev, 1981).

    Such a transitory activity system contains different elements, and I pro-pose different kinds of border play. Driven by the use of childrens story-telling (Brostrm, 2002b), the concepts of frame-play (Brostrm, 1999), play-drama, and play-world (Baumer et al., 2005) plus aesthetic theme play (Lindqvist, 1995), form the basis for the development of a new play concept that combines reading, literature dialogues, drawing, and play.

    diAlogiCAl ReAding And PlAy

    When frame-play, aesthetic theme play, and drama-play are connected to dia-logical reading, children and the preschool teacher plan and play together,

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    and the preschool teacher takes an active and challenging role called teach-er in role (Lindqvist, 1995). On the basis of common experiences from the story, they decide a general theme (for example, What happens in the witchs forest?), or they invite loved characters from childrens literature into their playfor example, Pippi Longstocking (Lindqvist, 1995).

    The concept frame is used with reference to the importance of the imaginary play situation (Elkonin, 1980). In role-play, the imaginary play situation often refers to a situation with only narrow limits. But creating a frame-play with older preschool children makes it possible to generate an extended and common imaginary play situation, a shared frame the chil-dren can use for a long time.

    When the children make plans for the play, and also during the play, the content, or in Batesons (1972) words, the text, is expressed. Simulta-neously, the children give signals about how to interpret the message, or the context. These signals help the play participants to understand each other. According to Bateson (1972), the establishment of the context is a psychological frame. In play with older preschool children, the psychologi-cal frame is usually clear. Its function is to include certain messages and ac-tions and to exclude others. A psychological frame has the same function as a picture frame: It tells the viewer what he or she should notice. The frame defines the context.

    In this new form of play, the childrens consciousness of the psychologi-cal frame is strengthened through the establishment of a real frame. For ex-ample, they have read a book about a child going to school, and then they construct the frame together: They turn the classroom into a school. Sup-ported by this physical frame, children and adults imagine themes, roles, and actions. In other words, they share a fantasy, which they collectively construct and modify (Fine, 1983, p. 12). The frame-play contains several elements decided in advance by the children and the adults. Because of the time interval between reading the book, formulation of the plan, and real-ization of the play, the roles, rules, and actions are prepared thoroughly. In this way, the frame-play is more organized and more purposeful than role-play. As well, the motives of the two kinds of play are different.

    In a form similar to frame-play, Lindqvist has created aesthetic theme play. With reference to Vygotskys (1971) book The Psychology of Art, Lindqvist (1995) argues for an open and dynamic approach to play, where childrens imagination and creativity are stressed. Lindqvist states that dra-ma is linked to play more directly than is any other form of art: Children can compose the text, improvise the roles and prepare the scenic accesso-ries: scenery and costumes, which they can paint, stick on, cut out and joint together (1995, p. 53).

    Together with a group of children, Lindqvist creates a play world. She introduces children to specific child literature and sets up a themefor

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    example, Alone in the big, wide world. Loneliness is one of the most im-portant existential questions, especially for small children who have to leave their parents to go to preschool every day (Lindqvist, 1995, p. 73).

    From this starting point, children and the teachers create a play-world that can last for weeks or months. The idea is to move between reality and imagination and to establish a creative and playful atmosphere and at the same time become familiar with the chosen theme.

    Very close to Lindqvists aesthetic theme play, Baumer et al. (2005) de-scribe a form of play named drama-play. Here three elements are integrated:

    Explorative play experimenting with roles, actions, and dressing-up Dramatization involving the preschool teachers and focused on

    creating a product, a story Reflection via dialogue, a kind of philosophical conversation with

    children

    An example of how these elements of drama-play can be integrated is when the Russian folktale Baba Yaga was read aloud by the teacher and children were shown scenes of the film based upon the tale. Inspired by class discus-sion of the story, the children recreated the witchs house and are visited by the character of Baba Yaga, who shows them how to perform a conjuring trick.

    ConClusion

    When children are involved in the above forms of play, they not only have fun, but they are also challenged to reflect on their play and to discuss what and how they play. Thus, one might argue that such play activities pave the way for the development of childrens learning motives. Achieving a learn-ing motive enables the child to go beyond passive learning and to become an active learner. In addition, and as earlier mentioned, data relating to childrens language acquisition and reading skills in grade one show that children involved in play sessions acquire higher scores compared with the control group (Baumer et al., 2005). A play-based approach seems to hold potential as a possible transition strategy as regard to creating a so-called transitory activity system, which is a new psychological structure. In other ways, the use of dialogical reading and play both in preschool and in the first year(s) in school might contribute to the construction of an advanced form of school readiness: the establishment of learning motive.

    Besides the development of a transitory activity system, that is, a sense of transition in childrens mind, the dialogical reading and play approach might be a tool for realizing the recommended transitions activities. Physi-cal discontinuity can be reduced when children realize that the school

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    classroom is similar to the preschool classroom. For example, it may have play corners, which contain both toys and play material. This can also change childrens view about preschool. At a visit in school before school start, a boy bursts out: Wow, look there are toys! The communication discontinuity plus the pedagogical and philosophical discontinuity are low-ered when preschool teachers and school teachers together discuss edu-cational principles and create curricula where play has a central place. No doubt it is not easy to bring the two professions together and build a play-oriented transition bridge. However, when some preschool teachers and some teachers from school overcome the barriers, it paves the way for other preschools and schools.

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    Author Queries:On manuscript p. 2, you cite Kienig, 2002, but in your references the authors name

    is spelled Kiening. Also in that same paragraph, you cite Margetts, 2002, but in your references you have it spelled Margretts. Please check both spellings and make the citations and references match.

    On ms p. 6 and the following pages, you cite Neumann, 2002, but in your references the authors name is spelled Neuman. Please check the spelling.

    In your references, please double check the issue number for Napier, J. (2002). That seems like a very high number for an issue number.

    Please list all editors, not et al. for Vygotsky, L. S. (1978).

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