CFP: Special issue on Lev Vygotsky and Play (Abstracts: Dec. 15, 2021)

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
American Journal of Play

Call for Papers: American Journal of Play Special Issue on Vygotsky and Play 

Guest Editors: Elena Bodrova and Deborah Leong, Tools of the Mind 



Abstracts (300 words): December 15, 2021 

Full papers (5,000 to 10,000 words), if accepted: April 15, 2022 


“In play, a child is always above his average age, above his daily behavior; in play, it is as though he were a head taller than himself. As in the focus of a magnifying glass, play contains all developmental tendencies in a condensed form; in play it is as though the child were trying to jump above the level of his normal behavior.”  – Lev Vygotsky


Nearly nine decades ago, Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1896 - 1934) delivered his seminal lecture, “Play and Its Role in the Mental Development of the Child,” at the Herzen Pedagogical Institute in Leningrad, Russia, just months before his death at age 37. From 1924 to 1934, Vygotsky produced a body of work now considered definitive in fields ranging from special education to art studies to psycholinguistics. Though his early interest in play can be seen in earlier works, such as The Psychology of Art (1925), his lecture, and its translation, provided a blueprint for cultural-historical theory of play for scholars all over the world. In the decades since, Vygotsky’s ideas have shaped the work of psychologists, educators, and others studying the role of play in child development. 

This special issue of the American Journal of Play seeks original essays exploring Vygotsky’s continued impact on how we understand and study play—past and present. We welcome a wide range of theoretical, empirical, and experimental papers from a variety of disciplines. Possible topics:  

  • scholarly lineages of Vygotskian ideas (Elkonin, Istomina, Tools of the Mind, etc.)
  • understanding play through Vygotsky’s cultural-historical psychology
  • play in early childhood development and education
  • “zone of proximal development” and scaffolding
  • Imaginative and make-believe play 
  • the role of adults in children’s play
  • Vygotsky’s vs. Jean Piaget’s views on play 

For special issue consideration, please email 300-word abstracts with the subject line "Vygotsky special issue" to no later than December 15, 2021

Style guidelines can be found at 


The American Journal of Play, the oldest peer-reviewed journal devoted solely to play, is written in a straightforward style for a wide readership of scholars, educators, policy makers, museum and industry professionals, public health workers, and others who strive to understand the impact and importance of play in the world. 

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