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The Pretend Play Episode: Location and Resemblance to Story
  • Kathleen A. Roskos, John Carroll University

his paper describes a procedure used to locate pretend play episodes in streams of play activity of 4- and 5-year-olds. A story grammar was used to compare pretend play episode activity with story construction. Participants were five girls and three boys attending the same preschool. Pretend play schemes and episodes were defined in terms of three transformational categories: changes in the here and now (decontextualization), changes in the you and me (self-other referencing), and changes in the this and that (substitution). Two research strategies were employed: (1) a series of unstructured interviews with the children and their primary caregivers for a total of 43 transcribed interviews; and (2) the videotaping of pretend play activity during 'free play' time on a regular basis as a form of nonparticipant observation. Domain analysis was used to analyze interview data and classify play into kinds of play. A checklist was developed for the purpose of locating episodes, and analytic induction and domain analysis were used to analyze 41 videotaped episodes of pretend play and accompanying transcriptions. Three key features of pretend play episodes emerged: the presence of an organizing topic, stages of construction, and a tendency for recurrence. Stages of construction included readying, directing, and acting stages. Episodes were examined for story-like qualities, and episode 17 is analysed in detail in this paper. The three basic story elements of setting, plot, and resolution were observed. A close resemblance between episode construction and story construction was revealed. Implications of the findings are discussed in terms of structure, fictionalizing, and storying as literacy connections. Five figures supplement the account, and appendixes include sample interview probes, player profiles, and a taxonomy of pretend play activity.

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Kathleen A. Roskos. "The Pretend Play Episode: Location and Resemblance to Story" (1988)
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