Guiding Preschool Play for Cultural Learning: Preschool Design as Cultural Niche Construction

Samuelsson, R.


The study investigates how kindergartens can be organised in a way that supports cultural learning through supervised play. The study investigates how kindergarten teachers facilitate interaction and create an environment that offers children cultural affordances for play. The research questions are: 1) How does the design of kindergartens support cultural learning through play? 2) In what ways do different cultural niche constructions affect each other and how does such mutual influence manifest itself in children’s play interaction?


The results of the study support the idea that the play environment in kindergarten is also a learning environment. Learning environments involving play can promote cultural learning through local forms of cultural interaction and influence. Supervised play can support kindergarten children in their cultural learning through the cultural affordances that take place in play. Play in kindergarten should therefore be considered a preparation for the children’s later cultural actions. Kindergarten teachers also play a role in children’s cultural exploration and affordances, as the combination of free play and supervised play enriches the children’s play environments and learning environments. Because kindergarten teachers’ practices are to some extent shaped by the physical and cultural affordances of kindergarten, it is important to focus on the physical and cultural design of kindergarten.


The study has collected data from three ethnographic studies conducted in three departments in multilingual kindergartens in Sweden. The three studies include a total of 49 children who were observed in natural play situations. The children’s free play and communication, both verbal and non-verbal, were video or audio recorded. The audio/video recordings were supplemented with field notes. This material, together with interviews of kindergarten teachers and photographs of the kindergarten environment, constituted the overall data material for this study. The data material for the three individual studies was compared through qualitative synthesis.


Samuelsson, R. (2020). “Guiding Preschool Play for Cultural Learning: Preschool Design as Cultural Niche Construction” Frontiers in Psychology, 11(2020): artikkel 545846.


Södertörn University, Sweden