Does Play Help Children Learn Words?: Analysis of a Book Play Approach Using an Adapted Alternating Treatments Design

Lisa A. Lenhart, Kathleen A. Roskos, Jeremy Brueck & Xin Liang

Increasing young children’s vocabulary remains one of the most challenging areas of early literacy instruction. Progress has been made in identifying techniques that, while often complex, work to implement routinely. This study examines the effects of an easy-to-implement technique, say-tell-do-play (STDP), that integrates proven “active ingredients” of direct instruction embedded in shared book reading and structured play on preschoolers’ word awareness and word meaning. Effectiveness of the technique was tested with 18 preschoolers enrolled in a university-based child care setting. Children were pretested on vocabulary selected from two topic studies spanning 8 weeks. In the first period, half were instructed using the technique with play and the other half without play. Midstudy, they were tested, and the play feature was swapped for the second period. Children were then posttested and tested again after 2 months. Results indicate implementing the technique with play made a difference in children’s word awareness (recognition), but not for children’s understandings of word meanings. The study corroborates research that shows the benefits of intentional, direct instruction for helping children learn new words.

Lisa A. Lenhart, Kathleen A. Roskos, Jeremy Brueck & Xin Liang (2019) Does Play Help Children Learn Words?: Analysis of a Book Play Approach Using an Adapted Alternating Treatments Design, Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 33:2, 290-306, DOI: 10.1080/02568543.2019.1577776

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Siftables

Have you seen the TED talk with David Merrill yet? The one where he demos these little building block thingies that are actually computers and can communicate with one another? While it’s over a year old, if you haven’t seen it yet, I’d highly recommend you take a look at it. The objects in the video are called Siftables and they are a product of work that Merrill started at the MIT Media Lab along with his partner Jeevan Kalanithi. Recently, Merrill and friends formed a start-up company called Sifteo to continue their work. They are closing in on a commercial launch of the product. From their website, Siftables are:

…sets of cookie-sized computers with motion sensing, neighbor detection, graphical display, and wireless communication. Siftables act in concert to form a single interface: users physically manipulate them—piling, grouping, sorting—to interact with digital information and media. Siftables provide a new platform on which to implement tangible games...

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This is a personal blog. The resources, information and views presented on Raised Digital are solely the opinion of Jeremy S. Brueck, and are not meant to reflect the views of my employer.


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