3d International Conference on Imagination and Education, Vancouver, Canada, 2005.

Invited Speaker: Natalia Gajdamaschko, Simon Fraser University.

Despite the obvious interest of educators in the nature of play and its role in development of imagination, theoretical approaches to the analysis of play are so different that at times the picture becomes confusing for teachers.

As educators, we all seem to agree that play is important and that we would like to utilize it in our educational settings. Still, as is the case with most things in educational affairs, not everyone agrees on the answers to two main questions: what is the role of play in a child's development overall and what is the role of teachers in organizing play? With regard to the second question, the proper role of adults in organizing or manipulating children's play still creates heated discussions in educational circles.

Lev Vygotsky, a world famous Russian psychologist who viewed play as the most important activity of early childhood, provided valuable advice on how to analyze play and its role in overall child development. Vygotsky also helped us to understand how we, as teachers, can promote the development of imagination through play.

My presentation will examine Vygotsky's theory of play as the leading activity of childhood.

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