7 It’s Time to Mow the Yard

Kylie Saunders

The child involved in this co-construction was 3 years of age and was in Phase 1 of their early reading development (Fellowes & Oakley, 2019). A child within this stage usually enjoys listening to, viewing, and discussing texts as well as engaging in reading and writing attempts through pretend play and role-playing scenarios (Fellowes & Oakley, 2019). Children of this age typically view drawing and writing as the same thing and will draw when asked to write something (Fellowes & Oakley, 2019).

To create the multimodal text, it was planned that a discussion would be used, along with pretend/role-playing activities, to encourage the children involved with creating the language and text for the story. As children relate writing to images at this stage of development, the child would be encouraged to recount the conversation into their own text and thereby create the images for the text that were meaningful to them.


  • Specific emphasis on play-based learning
  • Recognises the importance of communication and language (including literacy)
  • Literacy in the Early Years Learning Framework:
    • Incorporates a range of modes of communication i.e. movement, story telling, visual arts, drama, talking, listening, viewing etc.
    • Children benefit from opportunities to explore their world using technology

The aim of the Early Learning Years Framework is to extend and enrich children’s learning from birth to five years and it was developed to provide young children with opportunities to maximise their potential and develop a strong foundation for future learning (DEEWR, 2009). The framework holds a strong emphasis on play-based learning that incorporates early literacy through its recognition of the importance of communication and language (DEEWR, 2009). The framework states “literacy incorporates a range of modes of communication including music, movement, dance, storytelling, visual arts, media and drama, as well as talking, listening, viewing, reading and writing” (DEEWR, 2009, p. 41). This co-construction was developed with this statement in mind as it included play-based literacy experiences in the form of role-playing activities as well as the skills of talking, listening and viewing integrated together to engage the child in a literacy experience. The use of technology further coincided with the framework, allowing the child to develop confidence using digital media and to explore their world using technology.

Use of ICT

It has been embedded into both the Australian Curriculum and the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF, Department of Education, Employment and Work Relations [DEEWR], 2009) that it is the role the educator to assist children to learn about Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and learn through ICT (Fellowes & Oakley, 2019). The EYLF acknowledges that for children to become confident and involved learners they must be able to resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies, and natural and processed materials (DEEWR, 2009). This is done by allowing them the opportunity to experiment, investigate and problem solve using ICT and different technologies (DEEWR, 2009). The EYLF also outlines the benefits of using technologies for children to explore their own world and develop confidence using digital media (DEEWR, 2009).

The technology used in an early childhood setting needs to be age appropriate and integrated with play-based learning (Department of Education, 2022). Developmentally appropriate technology for the child involved in this co-construct can be used to encourage role-play (Fellowes & Oakley, 2019). ICT in an early childhood setting, for literacy, should encourage the child to be interactive with the digital media, reading aloud to the child as they read stories (Churchill et al., 2013).

The importance of integration between ICT and play-based learning for a 3-year-old child is important. It was the aim of this multimodal text to incorporate the way in which the child plays. As previously mentioned, the child would engage in reading and writing through pretend/role-playing activities therefore these moments were captured as digital images/videos to assist the children in recounting their experience and creating meaningful texts.

Planned Teaching Strategies

Electronic Learning Experience Approach (e-LEA) :

Educator scribes using the computer/tablet and the illustrations accompanying the text are digitally produced.

  1. Educator or child takes digital photographs or video during the experience
  2. Educator and child talk about the experience, dramatize it
  3. Educator helps child to create an oral retelling of the experience
  4. Illustration accompanying the text is produced digitally
  5. Educator eliciting a story or recount from the child
  6. Educator and child listen to recorded sentences and the educator types them
  7. Child rereads the story

(Fellowes & Oakley, 2019)


The EYLF identifies that “literacy is the capacity, confidence and disposition to use language in all its forms” (DEEWR, 2009, p. 41). A child’s oral language development can be assisted with the use of digital technologies. To achieve this the Electronic Language Experience Approach (e-LEA) was utilised for this co-construction experience. There are 7 steps involved in e-LEA as outlined above. The steps within e-LEA reflect an integration of technology and play-based learning, and I planned to implement the steps in the following ways:

  1. The child had displayed a strong and frequent interest in assisting his Dad in mowing the yard. Digital photographs would be taken during this experience.
  2. These photographs would be used to prompt a discussion about the experience, dramatizing it to assist the child in remembering the experience, sequencing it and visualising it (Fellowes & Oakley, 2019).
  3. Using prompting questions, the child would be encouraged to create an oral retelling of the experience that would be digitally recorded for playback purposes.
  4. The child would be encouraged to draw parts of the experience that would later be digitally added to the multimodal text and used as context for scaffolded talk.
  5. Using digital images/video recorded during the experience in sequence of events, I aimed to build upon this and prompt the child to talk, eliciting a recount that was recorded.
  6. While the child would not be doing the scribing, the recording would be used with the sentences repeated and text added to the multimodal text.
  7. Once the child’s drawings and text were added together, both individuals would reread the story.

Role-Playing of Experience

Series of five photos of child role playing gardening activites such as mowing, whipper snipping and leaf blowing

Digital images of the child engaged in the experience of mowing the yard with his Dad were used to prompt a conversation. This conversation used a role-playing activity to assist the child to remember the experience, sequence of events and to visualise it. Prompting questions encouraged the oral retelling of these events that would be used for playback purposes when creating drawings.

Unfortunately, the child would not engage in a drawing activity to create the illustrations for the text and wanted to continue in the role-playing activity. Due to this, digital images were taken of this activity instead. The child would also not engage in a recount, using these images, that would be used to scribe the text and as the story’s narrative. The recording taken during role-playing was used instead to assist with scribing the text however the child’s verbal language was not clear enough to use as the narrative.

Adjusted Teaching Strategies

The child was very engaged during steps 1-3 of the co-construction plan using the e-LEA steps however became disinterested and would not be involved in steps 4-7 therefore changes had to be made to this strategy. Recordings and images already taken were utilised to complete the steps. As the child refused to draw, the digital images during the role-playing activity were used. At this early age, some children are not proficient or confident about drawing their experiences and as a result they may draw something unrelated or nothing at all (Fellowes & Oakley, 2019). The child also did not want to view these images to provide a recount to be used for text scribing or the narrative. Instead, the child’s verbal answers to the earlier prompting questions were used to create and produce the text. A possible disadvantage of e-LEA is that children’s speech may not be clear or loud enough to record (Fellowes & Oakley, 2019). Unfortunately, the child’s speech was limited and not always loud or clear, therefore the narrative was rerecorded on the child’s behalf and played back for the child.

In future, a less time-consuming approach would be beneficial to ensure the child remains engaged and involved in the full co-construction process. The e-LEA appeared to be more of a direct teaching strategy that is conducted step by step and scripted for a pre-determined outcome (Queensland Government, 2022). I believe a more blended approach would be beneficial as it would still allow for direct teaching moments but also allow the child to be actively and imaginatively engaged (Queensland Government, 2022). A blended approach would also allow opportunities for the children to further develop narrative and oral language skills through recreated experiences and new play possibilities (Queensland Government, 2022).

Links to Constructivism and Play-based Learning

Constructivism is an approach to teaching that identifies an individual’s prior knowledge and understanding as essential in shaping how a person learns as they continue to construct their understanding rather than absorb new information (Churchill et al., 2013). A key element of constructivism is that the child plays an active role in the learning process and has a focus on what the child can bring to the learning process (Rowe, 2006). This theory describes the role of the teacher/educator as a facilitator in the learning process by providing the child with opportunities to acquire knowledge and understanding through their own activities, discussions, reflections, and ideas (Rowe, 2006). There is an identifiable connection between the constructivism theory and play-based learning as outlined in the EYLF. Both focus on the importance of the child creating meaningful learning experiences by organising and making sense of their world, actively engaging with others, objects, and representations (DEEWR, 2009). By designing this co-construction around a child-centred approach, both constructivism and play-based learning were evident within the learning practice.

OUTLINE OF The Child’s Learning

The EYLF describes literacy in the early years as including “a range of modes of communication including music, movement, dance, storytelling, visual arts, media and drama, as well as talking, reading and writing” (DEEWR, 2009, p. 44). Learning Outcome 5 of the framework relates to children as effective communicators. It centres around children using literacy with confidence and dispositions to use language in all its forms (DEEWR, 2009). There are clear descriptions of how these outcomes are evident in the child’s learning as outlined by the related evident links below:

Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes:

  • Use language and representation from play, music, and art to share and project meaning
  • Exchange ideas, feelings and understandings using language and representations in play

Children engage with a range of texts and gain meaning from these texts:

  • Take on roles of literacy and numeracy users in their play
  • Begin to understand key literacy and numeracy concepts and processes, such as the sounds of language, letter-sound relations, concepts of print and the ways that texts are structured

Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media:

  • Use language and engage in play to imagine and create roles, scripts, and ideas
  • Use the creative arts such as drawing, painting, sculpture, drama, dance, movement, music, and storytelling to express ideas and make meaning

Children use information and communication technologies to access information, investigate ideas and represent their thinking:

  • Use information and communication technologies to access images and information, explore diverse perspectives and make sense of their world
  • Engage with technology for fun and to make meaning

(DEEWR, 2009, p. 47)

What worked well?

Understanding the child’s development level is vital in successfully creating a co-construct multimodal text. The child who participated in in this activity was within Phase 1 of their early reading development. Children within this stage enjoy listening to, viewing, and discussing texts however they become engaged in reading and writing through pretend/role-play. The use of pretend/role-play was a successful strategy to encourage the child to share their ideas and provide the narrative for the text.

What should readers avoid?

When working with children to co-create a multimodal text, readers should avoid influencing the child’s narrative and having them tell this narrative in a specific order that is not meaningful for the child. Children relate writing to images during this stage of development, therefore the child should be encouraged to recount the conversation into their own text and create an image or depiction that is meaningful to them.

Overall, how was the activity of creating a multimodal text with a child?

Creating a multimodal text with a child with a play-based approach was very rewarding. The use of pretend/role-play allowed firsthand observation within this activity that children become confident and involved learners when they can resource their own learning through connecting with people, places, and materials. Flexibility for strategies used was important although the child did not want to engage in illustration for text and a final recount and narrative recording. Recording the pretend/role-play experience was sufficient to scribe the story’s narrative. A blended approach would be more beneficial than direct teaching to ensure the child remains actively and imaginatively engaged.

The Co-constructed multimodal text


Churchill, R., Ferguson, P., Godinho, S., Johnson, N.F., Keddie, A., Letts, W., Mackay, J., McGill, M., Moss, J., Nagel, M.C., Nicholson, P., & Vick, M. (2013). Teaching: Making a difference (2nd ed.). John Wiley & Sons Australia.

Department of Education. (2022). Approaches. https://earlychildhood.qld.gov.au/early-years/age-appropriate-pedagogies/approaches

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. (2009). Belonging, being & becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia. https://www.education.gov.au/child-care-package/resources/early-years-learning-framework

Fellowes, K. & Oakley, G. (2019). Language, literacy and early childhood education (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press.

Rowe, K. (2006). Effective teaching practices for students with and without learning difficulties: Constructivism as a legitimate theory of learning and of teaching? https://research.acer.edu.au/learning_processes/10/


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Co-creating Multimodal Texts with Young Children Copyright © 2023 by Kylie Saunders is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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