American Journal of Educational Research
ISSN (Print): 2327-6126 ISSN (Online): 2327-6150 Website: Editor-in-chief: Ratko Pavlović
Open Access
Journal Browser
American Journal of Educational Research. 2017, 5(12), 1200-1207
DOI: 10.12691/education-5-12-5
Open AccessArticle

Being Pulled into the Drama - How Early Childhood Educators Motivate Children by Way of Bodily Contact and Movements

Ole Lund1,

1Faculty of Education and Social Studies, VIA University College, Aarhus

Pub. Date: December 19, 2017

Cite this paper:
Ole Lund. Being Pulled into the Drama - How Early Childhood Educators Motivate Children by Way of Bodily Contact and Movements. American Journal of Educational Research. 2017; 5(12):1200-1207. doi: 10.12691/education-5-12-5


Movement lies at the core of what it means to be human. Our most primary mode of relating to others is by way of movement. However, existing research literature has not sufficiently investigated the role of bodily interaction in the promotion of motivation in kindergartens. Typically, verbalised and intellectualised communication is emphasised with less attention paid to what can be communicated by way of bodily movements. The purpose of this article is the promotion of motivation in concrete bodily interactions between educators and children during educator-controlled activities. The study is based on a fieldwork study conducted in a Danish kindergarten. Two examples from this study are used to illustrate the profound and dramatic effect bodily interactions can have on children’s motivations. The study concludes that educators’ bodily ‘manipulative’ and dramatised engagement with children during pedagogical activities can be an effective and profound way of affecting children’s immediate experiences and motivations for participating.

motivation kindergarten pedagogy movement embodiment body manipulation suspense fieldwork educator participation

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Ryan, R., & Deci, E. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 54-67.
[2]  Deci, E. L., Eghrarl, H., Patrick, B. C. & Leone, D. R. (1994). Facilitating internalization: The self-determination theory perspective. Journal of Personality, 62(1), 119-142.
[3]  Carlton, M. P., & Winsler, A. (1998). Fostering intrinsic motivation in early childhood classrooms. Early Childhood Education Journal, 25(3), 159-166.
[4]  Brinkmann, S. & Tangaard, L. (2010). Toward an epistemology of the hand. Studies in Philosophy of Education, 29, 243-257.
[5]  Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1985). Emergent motivation and the evolution of the self. New York: JAI Press.
[6]  Brinkmann, S. (2007). Motivation gennem handling og gøremål - et pragmatisk perspektiv. KvaN, 78, 91-101.
[7]  Bjørgen, K. (2015). Children's well-being and involvement in physically active outdoors play in a norwegian kindergarten: playful sharing of physical experiences. Child Care in Practice, 21(4), 305-323.
[8]  Bjørgen, K., & Svendsen, B. (2015). Kindergarten practitioners’ experience of promoting children’s involvement in and enjoyment of physically active play: Does the contagion of physical energy affect physically active play? Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 16(3), 257-271.
[9]  Andersson, J., Öhman, M. & Garrison, J. (2016). Physical education teaching as a caring act—techniques of bodily touch and the paradox of caring. Sport, Education and Society.
[10]  Brostrøm, S. (2002). Børns lærerige leg. Psyke & Logos, 23, 451-469.
[11]  Tobin, J. (2004). The disappearance of the body in early childhood education. In L. Bresler (Ed.), Knowing bodies, moving minds (pp. 111-125). Springer Netherlands.
[12]  Munk, K.P., Larsen, P.L., Leander, E. B. & Sørensen, K. (2013). Fear of child sex abuse: Consequences for childcare personnel in Denmark, Nordic Psychology, 65(1), 19-32.
[13]  Burke, R.S. & Duncan, J. (2016). Culturally contested corporeality: Regulation of the body in New Zealand and Japanese early childhood education, Global Studies of Childhood, 1-11.
[14]  Smith, B. (2013). Depression and motivation. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 12, 615-635.
[15]  Wrathall, M. A. (2005). Motives, reasons, and causes. In T. Carman & M. B. N. Hansen (Eds.) The Cambridge Companion to Merleau-Ponty (111-128). Cambridge University Press.
[16]  Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962). Phenomenology of Perception. Routledge.
[17]  O’Conaill, D. (2013). On being motivated. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 12(4), 579-595.
[18]  Sheets-Johnstone, M. (2003). Kinesthetic memory. Theoria et Historia Scientiarum, 7, (1), 69-92.
[19]  Sheets-Johnstone, M. (2011). The primacy of movement. John Benjamins Publishing.
[20]  Kretchmar, R. S. (2000). Moving and being moved: Implications for practice. Quest, 52, 260-272.
[21]  Crossley, N. (2004). Ritual, body technique and (inter)subjectivity. In K. Schilbrack (Ed.), Thinking through rituals - Philosophical perspectives (pp. 31-51). Routledge.
[22]  Kretchmar, R.S. (1975). From test to contest: An analysis of two kinds of counterpoint in sport. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 2, 23-30.
[23]  Guidry, J. A. (2005). The experience of... suspense: understanding the construct, its antecedents, and its consequences in consumption and acquisition contexts (Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University).
[24]  Dolezal, L. (2017). The phenomenology of self-presentation: describing the structures of intercorporeality with Erving Goffman. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 16(2), 237-254.
[25]  Gallagher, S. (2008). Direct perception in the intersubjective context. Consciousness and Cognition, 17(2), 535-543.
[26]  Atkinson, P., & Hammersley, M. (2007). Ethnography: Principles in practice. Routledge.
[27]  Pink, S., & Morgan, J. (2013). Short- term ethnography: Intense routes to knowing. Symbolic Interaction, 36(3), 351-361.
[28]  Spradley J. P. (1980). Participant observation. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.
[29]  Emmerson, R. M., Fretz, R. I. & Shaw, L. L. (2011). Writing ethnographic fieldnotes. The University of Chicago Press.
[30]  Pink, S. (2009). Doing sensory ethnography. Sage Publications.
[31]  Kvale S., & Brinkmann S. (2009). Interviews: Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
[32]  Huizinga, J. (1949). Homo ludens: A study of the play-element in our culture. Routledge & Kegan Paul.
[33]  Crossley, N. (2004). Key concepts in critical social theory. Sage.
[34]  Thøgersen, U. (2010). Desire as response to experience: Reflections on motivational aspects of adult learning. In M. Horsdal (Ed.), Communication, collaboration and creativity: researching adult learning (53-67). Syddansk Universitetsforlag.
[35]  van Manen, M. (1991). The tact of teaching: The meaning of pedagogical thoughtfulness. State Univeristy of New York Press: Albany.
[36]  Abuhamdeh, S. Csikszentmihalyi, M. & Jalal, B. (2014). Enjoying the possibility of defeat: Outcome uncertainty, suspense. Motivation and Emotion, 39(1), 1-10.