Shall we play? Listening to Children’s Voices using a Playful Approach

Lynsey Burke (Lead / Corresponding author), Divya Jindal-Snape, Anne Douglas

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There is a paucity of research that has effectively listened to children's voices on matters important to them and has asked them how they would like to be listened to. This study used a playful approach to listen to children's voices about play spaces in their primary school. The research questions were:

•How can a playful approach be used to listen to children's voices about what children would like their new play space to look like?
•Why did children choose particular resources to communicate their thoughts about those spaces?

Forty-two primary school children (ages 5-6 years) chose which method/s they would like to engage with to share their voices from blocks, clay, drawings, percussion instruments and loose parts storytelling. In line with our Playful Research Ethics Framework (PREF), interactive ethics sessions were delivered using puppets, music and Makaton and on-going assent was monitored.

This article focuses on clay and blocks data; children's favourite and preferred methods to listen to their voices. Rich data were collected through artefacts, photographs and conversations. The findings suggest that incorporating a playful approach and providing multiple ateliers and resources to choose from, can ensure children's voices can be heard and amplified.

The study makes several original contributions, namely, designing a Playful Research Ethics Framework, aligning the research design of multiple ateliers with free-flow play and including a large sample size. This study also highlighted children's agency within the research process as children chose how and when their voices should be heard, and invited children to share their preferences for being listened to in future.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Early Years Education
Early online date15 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Apr 2024


  • children’s voices
  • early childhood education
  • primary school
  • Playful approach
  • PREF


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