Original Research

Imaginative play and reading development among Grade R learners in KwaZulu-Natal: An ethnographic case study

Mitasha Nehal, Peter N. Rule
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 8, No 1 | a518 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v8i1.518 | © 2018 Mitasha Nehal, Peter N. Rule | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 December 2016 | Published: 27 June 2018

About the author(s)

Mitasha Nehal, School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Peter N. Rule, Faculty of Education, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


This article argues that imaginative play can fulfil a valuable role in the development of reading among pre-school children. It uses Feuerstein’s Mediated Learning Experience as a theoretical lens and defines the concepts related to imaginative play, focussing particularly on symbolic and dramatic play. Drawing on an ethnographic case study of the reading development of four pre-schoolers, aged between 5 and 6, in their home environments in KwaZulu-Natal, it shows how imaginative play is a generative aspect of early reading in the home. It is through imaginative play that the children were able to make sense of what they had read, transfer it to other contexts and explore its implications in a child-centred way. Imaginative play can take early reading from the realms of print and digital media into those of movement, dressing-up, role-playing, visual and aural stimulation – holistic and integrative ways of ‘comprehending’ the text. The article concludes with a discussion of the challenges and potential pedagogical implications of the research findings.


Childhood reading development; mediated learning; imaginative play


Total abstract views: 3187
Total article views: 4499

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.