Drawing and Play as Windows into a Child’s Multimodal Meaning-Making Development during COVID-19


  • Laura Brass The University of British Columbia
  • Dr. Jennifer Jenson University of British Columbia




multimodality, literacy, semiotics, meaning-making, drawing and play


Framed within multimodality and situated in a bounded socio-geographical context (i.e., Vancouver), this ethnographic case study provides an in-depth analysis of a bilingual 8-year-old girl’s literacy practices of meaning-making established across varied semiotic modes (i.e., linguistic, visual, audio, spatial, embodied, kinesthetic) during COVID-19. The study draws upon 13 open-ended informal interviews, three sessions of imaginative play, and 16 participant-generated artifacts. The findings revealed two themes (i.e., drawing as collective meaning-making; play as embodied, anthropomorphic meaning-making) that show how the child’s interactions with humans and nonhumans (e.g., toys, objects) contributed to her multimodal meaning-making during the pandemic, which might be beneficial for children in different contexts.

Author Biographies

Laura Brass, The University of British Columbia

Laura Brass is a Ph.D. candidate in Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia and an SSHRC and UBC Public Scholars Initiative fellowship holder. She received her MEd in TESL from the University of Calgary. Her research interests include bi-/multilingual language teachers’ identity, immigrant women’s issues, multimodal digital literacy, new materialism, and feminist theory.

Dr. Jennifer Jenson, University of British Columbia

Dr. Jennifer Jenson is a Professor of Digital Languages, Literacies, and Cultures in the Department of Language and Literacy Education, Faculty of Education, The University of British Columbia. Her research interests include digital, multimodal, and game-based literacies, gender and education, and online learning.




How to Cite

Brass, L., & Jenson, J. (2023). Drawing and Play as Windows into a Child’s Multimodal Meaning-Making Development during COVID-19. Language and Literacy, 25(2), 28–56. https://doi.org/10.20360/langandlit29641