“Girls Don’t Like Cars, They Like ‘Girl’ Cars”: Kindergarten Children’s Conceptions of Gender and Play Materials
Play is a central element of childhood through which children acquire physical, emotional, intellectual, and social skills. The gendered facets of play materials also influence children’s conceptions of themselves as gendered beings and what this implies about their position within the broader social world. Considering that much of the current research on gender and play materials does not actively seek children’s perspectives on their play choices, this research seeks to address this gap in the literature by striving to provide opportunities for children to express their insights and perspectives pertaining to gendered play. This small qualitative study with six kindergarten children focuses on their conceptions of the gender appropriateness of play materials. Themes elicited from participants’ responses include play materials as gender neutral, play materials as gender specific, gender flexibility, and contingent gender flexibility. Implications of these results as well as recommendations for early childhood practitioners and parents are provided.