One of the first things encouraged during an initial coaching cycle with a new team was to see how many ways they could deviate from a kitchen setting in the dramatic play interest area. The home setting was acceptable, just change the materials. This task was also stamped with a request for intentional, child developed meaning in their choice of materials and center theme. These strategies were designed based on best practices of initiating "social pretend play" (Smidt, 2013, p. 41.). We set our scene based on child interest, family suggestion, site/class-related topics of investigation and data collection. Often times we would correlate an investigation topic with a career or hobby of an adult classroom family member in hopes of providing the opportunity for open discussion with an expert. (Helm, & Katz, 2011). When we were fortunate and this occurred, the language and social experiences of the classroom were upgraded considerably.
The father of a team member was a guest speaker in a classroom of 3-year-old students, it is recalled. He brought traditional auto mechanic tools and various 'tool like' objects with the title "Anything Can Be A Tool" (Personal reference, Rockwood, 2013). His brief presentation was followed by student participation with the prompting question "What can you use as a tool in your classroom? How can you use it?". One student was observed using a block as a ruler after a similar example in our guest-speakers' presentation. This example of epistemic play is a display of secondary intersubjectivity as the child is utilizing knowledge obtained from the guide and applying it to a real-world problem (Smidt).
In another instance, the same child took the 'measuring block' to an area in which students were building a train track structure. The child noticed a missing link in the track and placed the block. A nearby student reacted to this with a smile and a 'high-five' offer. The students went through several exchanges discussing the ways in which their families build train sets/other toys. Secondary intersubjectivity is exhibited in this ludic play example (Smidt).
As a different child prepared for departure, he noticed a rest-mat that had fallen out of a cubbie. The child reacted with a surprised/scared demeanor and dove for his backpack. Using his bag as a scoop or shovel, he propped the mat back into the cubbie-space. He spoke of saving the mat and saving something (unknown) away from school. It is remembered hearing him say "...it fell. You were AHHH" to his caregiver when they left. Recalling and matching the affect of an attachment figure is an example of primary intersubjectivity (Smidt).
The grand "Wow moment" came once it was realized that intersubjectivity like many other developmental topics, has been a vocabulary term of interest and intense observational research for several years. I just did not know what it was called.
Helm, J. H. & Katz, L. G. (2011). Young Investigators: The Project Approach in the Early Years. New York, NY: Teacher College Press
Smidt, S. (2013). The Developing Child in the 21st Century: A global perspective on child development. London, NY: Routledge.