Boys, weapon toys, war play and meaning-making: prohibiting play in early childhood education settings?

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This article aims to summarise research on this topic; analyse, reflect on and discuss earlier research on play and learning using a few empirical examples; and determine what constitutes an appropriate educational approach concerning war and weapon within an early childhood education and care (ECEC) setting. This is done by putting feminist theories on masculinity (Connell, 2005; Kimmel, 2008) beside social semiotic multimodal theories of meaning making and learning in order to try to understand the aspects in focus (Kress, 2010, Kress & Bezemer, 2016). The research question has been: How can boys’ creation and use of war toys and weapon play be understood in terms of meaning-making in an ECE setting? The boys in the two empirical examples that are presented in the article can be said to use elements of learning; they talk, discuss, explain, argue and create a play, around guns and cookery. One of the themes is acknowledged by the ECE institution, one of the themes not. How the modes are displayed can be related to the gender of the children whereas boys displaying war toys and weapon games don’t seem to fit into the context. Key words: war toys, war play, meaning making, early childhood education, multimodality, masculinity, gender.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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