Khimji, F. and Maunder, R. (2012) Mediational tools in story construction: an investigation of cultural influences on children’s narratives. Journal of Early Childhood Research.10(3), pp. 294-308. 1476-718X.
In this article we investigate how the content of children’s stories can provide insight into their cultural contexts. Informed by sociocultural theory, we use children’s narrative as a methodological tool for understanding the role of cultural influences in their construction of personal experiences and imaginary events. Twelve children in a year one class (five–six years) participated in pairs in three storytelling activities designed to draw on both imaginary scenarios and real world experiences. First, a picture was used as a stimulus and children were asked to formulate a story about what was happening in the image. Second, children were read the first part of a story book, and then asked to explain how they thought the story would finish. Finally, children were asked to recount an experience about a holiday they had been on. Thematic analysis of the stories illustrated how children utilized meditational tools to construct their narratives. Children’s imaginary capabilities were closely entwined with their own personal experiences and developmental context and they drew on beliefs and practices that were culturally situated. As a result we suggest that incorporating storytelling activities into early years classrooms can enable educators to develop a closer understanding of pupils’ cultural development, and provide researchers with a valuable methodological resource for studying sociocultural perspectives.