First literacies: Art, creativity, play, constructive meaning-making

Felicity McArdle, Susan K. Wright

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    In this chapter art and play are considered children's 'first languages', and therefore are placed at the centre of a curriculum for young children. Through art and play, children represent thought and action, which underpins their later understanding of the 'second languages' of reading, writing and numbering. Key issues such as image-making, graphic action, imagination, narrative, empathetic engagement and internalised thought are analysed as evidence of children's construction of knowledge through art and play. Symbol making is the essence of being human. In children's art and play, their symbol use captures their sensory modes in emotional and embodied ways, as children know their worlds and their place. The chapter addresses how children's creation, manipulation and meaning making through engaged interaction with art materials are precursors to learning to read and write and, as first languages, should not be discarded nor replaced. The notion of creativity is explored in relation to pedagogical approaches. In a climate of testing regimes that emphasise 'academic' achievements, teachers are encouraged to not lose sight of imagination, pretence, constructive meaning making, holistic teaching and being a co-player and co-artist.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLiteracy in the arts
    Subtitle of host publicationRetheorising learning and teaching
    EditorsGeorgina Barton
    Place of PublicationCham
    PublisherSpringer-Verlag London Ltd.
    Number of pages17
    ISBN (Electronic)9783319048468
    ISBN (Print)9783319048451
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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