Original Research - Special Collection: Early Childhood Development in Theory and Practice

An early grade science, technology, engineering and mathematics dialogue reading programme: The development of a conceptual framework

Hanrie S. Bezuidenhout
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 11, No 1 | a1038 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v11i1.1038 | © 2021 Hanrie S. Bezuidenhout | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 May 2021 | Published: 25 August 2021

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Hanrie S. Bezuidenhout, Department of Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Background: The South African Department of Basic Education (DBE) aims to expand science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning in the national curriculum through a Digital Skills for All Curriculum (DSfAC) for Grade R – 9. The DSfAC intends to educate a STEM-literate future citizenry with refined computational thinking (CT), and coding and robotics skills. As with all learning, foundations are ideally laid when children are young and when they form habits of thinking that can ultimately serve as their first building blocks for successful learning. Current theoretical frameworks describe how teachers can include CT, coding and other STEM related constructs in their teaching. In the curriculum plan, a conceptual framework that underpins the design of teaching materials to support STEM literacy teaching, has, however, not yet been forwarded.

Aim: Presenting a conceptual framework that has served as the design heuristic for a dialogue reading programme (DRP) for young children. The programme consists of three picture books, created to develop young children’s digital skills and related vocabulary as outlined in the DSfAC through story texts and pictures.

Method: I implemented an iterative participatory approach to develop the conceptual framework.

Conclusion: The development of teaching materials, like a DRP, should have its genesis in a confluence of three interdisciplinary components to develop a conceptual framework: (1) scientific research and theories; (2) an iterative participatory approach which involves teachers, parents, children, and other role players in the development process; and (3) systematic utilisation of existing examples of relevant teaching materials.


STEM education; dialogue reading; artificial intelligence; conceptual framework; early grades; computational thinking; coding; digital skills


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