Let's Pretend! A Semantic Analysis of Preschool Children's Play

Chris Marvin, Mary Hunt-Berg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This study explored the semantic content of children's talk during their pretend play at home and at preschool. The spontaneous speech of ten children (C.A. 4:0 to 5:2)was tape-recorded during two hours of preschool activity and two hours following dismissal from school. Transcripts were coded for references to pretend/fantasy time, and references to specific persons and content were noted. There were no significant differences in the frequency with which children used referents to pretend/fantasy time at home and preschool. During their pretend play, the children spoke most often about themselves alone or themselves with others in both settings. Significantly more references were made to family members at home; peers and self were referenced significantly more often during pretend play at school. The actions and locations of themselves or others were frequent referents in both settings. Fantasy/cartoon characters were used by half of the children in each setting but were not used significantly more in one setting or another. Familiar daily routines were common play themes at home and at school, but never were associated with the activity of cartoon/fantasy characters. The results are discussed as they relate to the design and implementation of intervention programs for children with speech-language impairments in integrated settings with nondisabled peers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalCommunication Disorders Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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