3-1 | Does Play Make a Difference?


Does Play Make a Difference?
How Play Intervention Affects the Vocabulary Learning of At-Risk Preschoolers

Myae Han, Noreen Moore, Carol Vukelich, and Martha Buell


Merging the literatures of how to enhance young children's vocabulary development and how to improve learning through play, this study tested two vocabulary teaching protocols on at-risk preschool children: Explicit Instructional Vocabulary Protocol (EIVP) and shortened EIVP and a play session (EIVP + Play). From a group of 118 lowest-performing students, 49 children were divided into two groups and received either EIVP or EIVP + Play twice weekly in thirty-minute tutoring sessions over the course of four months. A total of 64 words were taught. The results revealed that children who received the EVIP + Play showed more growth on both receptive-vocabulary and expressive-vocabulary measures and that more children who received EIVP + Play met the benchmark on the receptive vocabulary, measured by their performance on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT III). Additionally, children in the EIVP + Play group showed a steeper growth trajectory on the curriculum-based measurement tool. The premise and importance of guided play in literacy learning is discussed, and further research is suggested.