Teaching science through play in kindergarten: does integrated play and science instruction build understanding?

Bulunuz M.

EUROPEAN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION RESEARCH JOURNAL, vol.21, no.2, pp.226-249, 2013 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 21 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/1350293x.2013.789195
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.226-249
  • Keywords: teaching through play, science, kindergarten, understanding


This study investigates kindergarten children's understanding of science concepts when experiencing science through play versus direct instruction. Teaching science through play not only includes children's active participation in several hands-on activities related to a concept or a phenomenon, but also includes children's participation in variations of the same activity to explore different aspects of the concept/phenomena. Among the science concepts suggested by the Turkish National Preschool Education Program, the following science concepts were selected to teach in kindergarten classrooms: colors, living/non-living things, gravity, magnets, existence of air and air related phenomena, floating and sinking, and the phases of water. The research study was conducted in two classrooms of a public kindergarten using a quasi-experimental pre-test/post-test design. The data collection tools were semi-structured interviews, coded for understanding according to a rubric. The result of the study indicated that children taught science through play had greater understanding of science concepts than children taught science through direct instruction. The findings suggest that teaching science through playful experiences is an important approach to promote kindergarten students' developing understanding of science concepts.