Original Research

Proposing and modifying guided play on shapes in mathematics teaching and learning for Zambian preschool children

Nagisa Nakawa
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 10, No 1 | a802 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v10i1.802 | © 2020 Nagisa Nakawa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 August 2019 | Published: 04 June 2020

About the author(s)

Nagisa Nakawa, Architecture and Environmental Design, Kanto Gakuin University, Yokohama, Japan


Background: Early childhood education (ECE) has recently been introduced in Zambian government schools, leading to a need to examine the quality of mathematics lessons.

Aim: This study focussed on guided play lessons on shapes in pre-mathematics classes and examined how they could be implemented and what children could learn in the class.

Setting: The lessons were conducted in two early childhood mathematics classes in two different schools in Zambia.

Methods: A qualitative design-based research method was applied. For data collection, teachers implemented a trial lesson in one school and a main lesson in another school in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.

Results: In the first lesson, the activity differed from what was planned and discussed. In the second lesson, the content and objective of the guided play were changed from those of the trial lesson. In the main lesson, children engaged in a more basic activity involving shapes and created many kinds of shapes that they were familiar with in and out of school. This was particularly effective for children in terms of explicitly learning the basic features of the shapes and important mathematical ideas such as congruency, similarity and symmetry.

Conclusion: The main lesson was successful because the level of mathematical content was more appropriate for the children and allowed them to enjoy the activity. Two points regarding developing more effective lessons for ECE, to identify pupils’ readiness and sociocultural status, were also assessed and discussed.


mathematics; early childhood mathematics; playing; guided play; shapes


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