Clowns and explosions: Drawings as reflections of children’s humor

Clowns and explosions: Drawings as reflections of children’s humor


Author(s): Juli-Anna Aerilaa (, Timo Laesb & Tuula Laesb

Source: Journal of Early Childhood Education Research; Vol 6(1), p. 108-135.

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Abstract: Using and understanding humor is important for every child. Humor enhances well-being and helps children cope with different situations they face in social interaction. However, children’s humor is not widely researched. In this study, we investigate the humor of Finnish children and evaluate, whether there are gender differences in their individual use of humor. The research design of this study is inspired by Roger Piret (1941). His aim was to understand the development and features of children’s humor by asking them to draw pictures, which would make others laugh. The data of this study is collected during year 2013 in Finnish primary schools. The data consist of 143 drawings made by 72 boys and 71 girls aged 6 to 8 years. The drawings are analyzed trough qualitative content analysis using Piret’s categories of children’s humorous pictures as a framework. The main data were supported by children’s individual narrations based on their drawings and the observations of the researchers. The results of this study indicate that Piret’s research model could still be a valid and child-centered method for contemporary humor research. The study highlights the differences in the humor between boys and girls. For boys humor is about surprising and entertaining others and their drawings are full of action, imaginary characters and aggressive elements. In girls’ drawings humor seems to aim at delighting others and the connection to real life experiences is apparent. However, both genders seem to appreciate and understand each other’s humorous drawings. The results of this study serve as an example of the versatile possibilities of children’s individual drawings and gives both the educators and researchers perspectives to the complexity of the individual sense of humor.

Author-Supplied Keywords: Roger Piret, children, humor, humorous drawings, gender differences

ISSN: 2323-7414

ISSN-L: 2323-7414 online

Author Affiliation: aUniversity of Turku, Department of Teacher Education, Rauma, Finland, bUniversity of Turku, Department of Teacher Education, Finland