Play and Literacy in Early Childhood Classrooms

Elizabeth Ann Munger


Recent research shows that play is being replaced in early childhood classrooms by direct instruction, due to academic accountability and other pressures.  This manuscript shares some of the many benefits of play in the classroom on young children.  Many recent studies have shown that play is a developmentally appropriate way to teach and practice literacy skills with early childhood students, while helping them to become successful emergent readers.  This article will examine different ways that play can be used to instruct and reinforce literacy skills with emergent and at-risk readers.

Full Text:



Cavanaugh, D. M., Clemence, K. J., Teale, M. M., Rule, A. C., Montgomery, S. E. (2016). Kindergarten Scores, Storytelling, Executive Function, and Motivation Improved through Literacy-Rich Guided Play. Early Childhood Education Journal, 45, 831-843.

Lynch, M. (2015). More play, please. The perspective of kindergarten teachers on play in the classroom. American Journal of Play, 7, 347-370.

Massey, S. (2013). From the reading rug to the play center: enhancing vocabulary and comprehensive language skills by connecting storybook reading and guided play. Early Childhood Education Journal, 41, 125-131.

McLeod, R. H., Hardy, J. K., Kaiser, A. P. (2017) The effects of play-based intervention on vocabulary acquisition by preschoolers at risk for reading and language delays. Journal of Early Intervention, 39, 147-160.

Moedt, K. & R. M. Holmes (2018). The effects of purposeful play after shared storybook readings on kindergarten children's reading comprehension, creativity, and language skills and abilities. Early Childhood Development and Care.

Peterson, S. (2017). Developing a play-based communication assessment through collaborative action research with teachers in northern Canadian indigenous communities. Literacy, 51, 36-43.

Pyle, A. & DeLuca, C. (2016). Assessment in play-based kindergarten classrooms: An empirical study of teacher perspective and practices. The Journal of Educational Research, 110, 457-466.

Pyle, A., Prioletta, J., Poliszczuk, D. (2018). The Play-Literacy Interface in Full-day Kindergarten Classrooms. Early Childhood Education Journal, 46, 117-127. Retrieved from

Wasik, B. A. & Jacobi-Vessels, J. L. (2017). Word play: scaffolding language development through child-directed play. Early Childhood Education Journal, 45, 769-776.

Weisberg, D. S., Hirsch-Pasek, K., Michnick Golinkkoff, R. (2013). Guided play: where curricular goals meet a playful pedagogy. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7, 104-112.


  • There are currently no refbacks.