Guided play as a pedagogical tool for the early grades

Lerato B. Ndabezitha, Sarah Gravett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Research has shown the benefits of play for children’s learning and development. Play can also be harnessed for pursuing pre-determined learning goals related to school curricula through ‘guided’ play. Aim: The research inquired into the implementation of a pre-service teacher education course on play as pedagogy to evaluate and refine the course’s design principles. Setting: The study was conducted at the University of Johannesburg, involving pre-service teachers within the Bachelor of Education in the foundation phase of schooling. Methods: The research formed part of a broader design-based research study. The data were collected via questionnaires, interviews, analysis of students’ work and a research journal. A combination of inductive and deductive data analysis was used. Results: The way in which the course was designed and implemented was successful in helping students develop a basic understanding of guided play, although there were gaps in their understanding of their guiding role; student teachers learnt that creativity could be developed through play. Conclusion: In general, the design principles served the course and its implementation well because students learnt much about guided play. However, a major gap was the insufficient focus on guiding practices. Such practices should receive considerable attention in a pre-service teacher education course on guided play. A stronger focus on the interconnectedness of play and creativity in a course on guided play for pre-service teachers will be beneficial. Contribution: The research on teacher preparation for using play-based teaching and learning is limited. This study contributes to addressing this gap.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera1345
JournalSouth African Journal of Childhood Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • creativity
  • guided play
  • play
  • playful learning
  • pre-service teacher education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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