Opening an imaginative space? A study of toys and toy play in a Swedish Waldorf preschool

Frödén, S., Rosell, A-L.


The study investigates how the relationships between children, toys and the learning context in a Swedish Steiner kindergarten contribute to strengthening children’s imagination. In the Steiner kindergarten, children get to play with simple toys that have few detailed shapes in order to activate their imagination. The purpose of the study is to investigate whether the relationship between the children, the toys and the context opens or closes opportunities regarding the activation of the children’s imagination. 


The study identifies three specific factors that may influence the activation of children’s imaginations: a) the shape of the toys; b) the location of the toys; and c) the pedagogical intentions of the kindergarten teachers and their interactions with the children.


The researchers used empirical data from a larger ethnographic study in the Steiner kindergarten in question. The empirical data consisted of participatory observations of activities in kindergarten over a year and a half, interviews with two kindergarten teachers, as well as photographs of rooms and toys. The 17 children in the sample (nine girls and eight boys) were between three and seven years old at the time of recording.


Frödén, S. & Rosell, A-L. (2019). “Opening an imaginative space? A study of toys and toy play in a Swedish Waldorf preschool”. Nordisk tidsskrift for pedagogikk og kritikk, 5(1):186-201.

Financed by

Not specified