Exploring the feasibility of outdoor indigenous games and songs to enhance play-based pedagogy in early childhood education

Abstract views: 292 / PDF downloads: 139





Indigenous games, Outdoor play, Songs, Early childhood education, Play-based learning


Indigenous play activities are crucial to cross-cultural knowledge and practice and are gaining ground as a pedagogical approach in early childhood education settings. The study aimed at systematically documenting culturally and developmentally appropriate outdoor indigenous games that could serve as resource materials for play-based learning in ECE centres. Participants comprising teachers, parents, grandparents, and adolescent girls and boys were drawn from Lufwanyama district of Zambia.  Data was generated through Participatory Action Research to allow inter-cultural dialogue. Data was analysed using thematic categorisation. Results showed that documentation of indigenous games can serve as a resource capital for enhancing play-based learning practice in an early childhood education setting. The study further revealed that integrating indigenous games can strengthen home-school linkages through active community engagement. The study recommends that teachers can effectively implement play-based learning when the reservoir of developmentally appropriate indigenous games is easily accessible to them. We further argue for rethinking early childhood education pedagogical practice so that learning and development are seen as being influenced more by contextually responsive play and exploration, than by direct instruction and teaching.


Adjei-Boadi, D., Agyei-Mensah, S., Adamkiewicz, G., Rodriguez, J. I., Gemmell, E., Ezzati, M., Baumgartner, J. & Owusu, G. (2022). Neighbourhood, built environment and children’s outdoor play spaces in urban Ghana: Review of policies and challenges. Landscape and urban planning, 218, 104288. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2021.104288

Baldwin, M. (2012). Participatory action research. In M. Grey, J. Midgley, & S.A. Webb. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of social work. (pp. 467–482). Sage. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446247648.n31

Banja, M. K. (2022). Support systems for newly qualified teachers in Africa: Policies, practices, challenges. Marvel Publishers.

Bellomo, R. O. (2023). How to play hopscotch with your kids. https://www.parents.com/fun/activities/hopscotch

Bergen, D. (2002). The role of pretend play in children's cognitive development. Early Childhood Research & Practice, 4(1), n1.

Cashman, S. B., Adeky, S., Allen Alex J., C. J., Israel, B. A., Montaño, J., Rafelito, A., Rhodes, S. D., Swanston, S., Wallerstein, N., & Eng, E. (2008). The power and the promise: Working with communities to analyse data, interpret findings, and get to outcomes. American Journal of Public Health, 98, 1407–1417. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2007.113571

Clements, R. (2004). An investigation of the status of outdoor play. Contemporary issues in Early Childhood, 5(1), 68–80. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2304/ciec.2004.5.1.10

Davies, M. (1997). The teacher's role in outdoor play: Preschool teachers' beliefs and practices. Journal of Australian Research in Early Childhood Education, 1, 10-20.

Dunbar, T., & Scrimgeour, M. (2006). Ethics in indigenous research–connecting with community. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 3(3), 179 185. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-006-9018-1

Epstein, J. L. (2018). School, family, and community partnerships: Preparing educators and improving schools. Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429493133

Ermine, W., Sinclair, R., & Jeffery, B. (2004). The ethics of research involving Indigenous peoples. Indigenous Peoples' Health Research Centre.

Gagnon, S. G., Nagle, R. J., & Nickerson, A. B. (2007). Parent and teacher ratings of peer interactive play and social-emotional development of preschool children at risk. Journal of Early Intervention, 29(3), 228-242. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/105381510702900303

Gul, S. B. A. (2023). Early childhood care and education (3-6 years) and the role of traditional games: an exploratory study of Jammu and Kashmir. Asian Journal of Education and Social Studies,39(1), 53–59. DOI: https://doi.org/10.9734/ajess/2023/v39i1839

Johnson, A. N., & Samuelsen, K. M. (2018). Learning and teaching traditional indigenous games: implications for physical education. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 43(2), 65-81.

Johnstone, A., Martin, A., Cordovil, R., Fjørtoft, I., Iivonen, S., Jidovtseff, B., & McCrorie, P. (2022). Nature-based early childhood education and children’s social, emotional and cognitive development: A mixed-methods systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(10), 5967. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19105967

Kelly, P. J. (2005). Practical suggestions for community interventions using participatory action research. Public Health Nursing, 22(1), 65-73. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0737-1209.2005.22110.x

Kemple, K. M., Oh, J., Kenney, E., & Smith-Bonahue, T. (2016). The power of outdoor play and play in natural environments. Childhood Education, 92(6), 446-454. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00094056.2016.1251793

Khalid, S. (2008). Value of traditional games. Nurture, (5), 19-21.

Kjorholt, A.-T., Matafwali, B., & Mofu, M. (2019). ‘The knowledge is in your ears, in the stories you hear from the grandparents’: Creating intercultural dialogue through memories of childhood. In A.-T. Kjorholt & H. Penn (Eds.), Early Childhood Development work, palgrave studies on children and development (pp. 165–191). Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91319-3_9

Laely, K., & Yudi, D. (2018). The impact of hopscotch game towards the growth of kinesthetic intelligence on 3-4 year old children. Early Childhood Research Journal, 1(1), 21-28. DOI: https://doi.org/10.23917/ecrj.v1i1.6581

Lester, S., & Russell, W. (2010). Children's right to play: An examination of the importance of play in the lives of children worldwide. Working papers in early childhood development (No. 57). Bernard van Leer Foundation.

Lester, S., &, Russell, W. (2008). Play for a change. Play policy and practice: a review of contemporary perspectives. NCB and Play England.

Lungu, S., & Matafwali, B. (2020). Play based learning in early childhood education (ECE) centres in Zambia: A teacher perspective. European Journal of Education Studies, 7(12), 356-368.

MacDonald, C. (2012). Understanding participatory action research: A qualitative research methodology option. The Canadian Journal of Action Research, 13(2), 34-50. DOI: https://doi.org/10.33524/cjar.v13i2.37

Madondo, F., & Tsikira, J. (2021). Traditional children’s games: Their relevance on skills development among rural Zimbabwean children age 3–8 Years. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 36(3), 406-420. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02568543.2021.1982084

Matafwali, B. (2022). Inclusive early childhood education in Zambia: A call for policy action. Journal of Education and Practice, 13(36), p. 44-50

Matafwali, B., & Bus, A. G. (2013). Lack of familiarity with the language of instruction: A main cause of reading failure by grades 1 and 2 pupils in Zambia. Insights of Learning Disabilities, 10(2), 31-44.

Matafwali, B., & Chansa-Kabali, T. (2017). Towards sustainable access to early childhood development in Zambia: Re-envisioning the role of community-based early childhood programs in promoting school readiness. Creative Education, 8(6), 901-911. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4236/ce.2017.86065

Matsekoleng, T. K., Mapotse, T. A., & Gumbo, M. T. (2022). The role of indigenous games in education: A technology and environmental education perspective. Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15595692.2022.2160436

Mendelsohn, A. L., Cates, C. B., Weisleder, A., Johnson, B. S., Seery, A. M., Canfield, C. F., Huberman, S. H., & Dreyer, B. P. (2018). Reading aloud, play, and social-emotional development. Pediatrics, 141(5), e20173393. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2017-3393

Ministry of Education Zambia. (1996). Educating Our Future. Zambia Educational Publishing House.

Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education Zambia. (2013). National Literacy Framework. Curriculum Development Centre.

Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education Zambia. (2014). Primary literacy program approach to teaching reading in local languages teacher’s handouts. Curriculum Development Centre.

Moloi, T. J., Mosia, M. S., Matabane, M. E., & Sibaya, K. T. (2021). The use of indigenous games to enhance the learning of word problems in grade 4 mathematics: a case of Kgati. International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research, 20(1), 240-259. DOI: https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.20.1.13

Moyo, S., & Chinamasa, E. (2022). Mathematics pedagogical characteristics of traditional games: Case of Tsoro in primary schools in Zimbabwe. International Journal of Education Humanities and Social Science, 5(4), 52-67. DOI: https://doi.org/10.54922/IJEHSS.2022.0412

Mtonga, M. (2012). Children’s games and plays in Zambia. University of Zambia Press.

Mwanza-Kabaghe, S., & Mofu-Mwansa, M. (2018). Lecturers' experiences, challenges and prospects on continuing professional development. The Namibia CPD Journal for Educators,4 (1) 88-105.

Nsamenang, A. B., & Tchombe, T. M. (Eds.) (2012). Handbook of African educational theories and practices: A generative teacher education curriculum, (pp. 5-20). Human Development Resource Centre.

Nsamenang, A.B. (2008). (Mis)Understanding ECD in Africa: The force of local and global motives. In M., Garcia, A. Pence and L.J. Evans (Eds), Africa’s future Africa’s challenge: Early childhood care and development in sub-Saharan Africa, (pp.135-148). World Bank.

Nyanhongo, C. (2015). African children’s games: Tsoro. Baker-Berry Library.

Orminston, C. (2010). Reconceptualising research: An indigenous perspective. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 45(1), 93-106.

Pence, A.R., & McCallum, M. (1994). Developing cross-cultural partnerships. In P. Moss, & A.R. Pence (Eds.), Valuing quality in early childhood services: New approaches to defining quality (pp.116–122). Teachers College Press.

Petrovska, S., Sivevska, D., & Cackov, O. (2013). Role of the game in the development of preschool child. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 92, 880-884. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.08.770

Polevoy, G. G., Fuentes-Barría, H., Aguilera-Eguía., R. (2023). Effect of a program adapted the "Hopscotch" on the sense of rhythm in the movements of Russian children: Quasi-experimental study. Retos: Nuevas Tendencias en Educación Física, Deporte y Recreación, 49(3), 813-816. DOI: https://doi.org/10.47197/retos.v49.99133

Ransbury, M. K. (1982). Friedrich Froebel 1782–1982: A reexamination of Froebel's principles of childhood learning. Childhood Education, 59(2), 104-106. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00094056.1982.10520556

Reason, P. & Bradbury, H. (Eds.) (2008). The SAGE handbook of action research: Participative Inquiry and Practice. Sage. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4135/9781848607934

Röttger‐Rössler, B., Scheidecker, G., Funk, L., & Holodynski, M. (2015). Learning (by) feeling: A cross‐cultural comparison of the socialization and development of emotions. Ethos, 43(2), 187-220. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/etho.12080

Sanga, D. N. (2017). Factors affecting the participation of children in traditional games in Tanzania. Utafiti, 12(1-2), 131-148. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/26836408-0120102008

Selenger, D. (1997). Participatory action research and social change. Cornell University.

Semmar, Y., & Al-Thani, T. (2015). Piagetian and Vygotskian approaches to cognitive development in the kindergarten classroom. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 5(2), 1-7. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/jedp.v5n2p1

Serpell, R. (2009, 10-13 November). Implications of a developmental african research program for the design of ECD services in rural communities. contribution to a panel on ‘Strengthening Africa’s Voice in and Africa’s Contribution to Child Development Research’ at 4th African International ECD Conference-Forum Policy to Action: Expanding Investment in ECD for Sustainable Development. Dakar, Senegal.

Singer, D. G., Singer, J. L., D'Agnostino, H., & DeLong, R. (2009). Children's pastimes and play in sixteen nations: Is free-play declining?. American Journal of Play,1(3), 283-312.

Smørdal, G. P. (2012). Contemporary childhood in Bagamoyo: A child-focused study on perceptions and experiences of childhood in coastal Tanzania (Master's thesis, Norwegian University of Science and Techninology). http://hdl.handle.net/11250/269065

Sriwidari, N. A., Mustaji, M., & Hasibuan, R. (2018, December). The modification of hopscotch for developing children’s gross motor and social. In 2nd International Conference on Education Innovation (ICEI 2018) (pp. 119-124). Atlantis Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2991/icei-18.2018.26

Usman, M., & Yusuf, N. (2021). The utilization of traditional games for early childhood development. In Proceedings of International Conference on Multidisciplinary Research, 4(1), 146-152. DOI: https://doi.org/10.32672/pic-mr.v4i1.3761

Utete, C., Ilukena, A., & Sindano, G. (2017). Exploring how modern sciences impede the development of indigenous knowledge (IK) [Ethno-science and ethno-mathematics] In The Kavango East region: A case study. Journal for Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, 6 (2), 68-88.

Vaughn, L. M., & Jacquez, F. (2020). Participatory research methods – Choice points in the research process. Journal of Participatory Research Methods, 1(1). DOI: https://doi.org/10.35844/001c.13244

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.




How to Cite

Matafwali, B., & Mofu, M. (2023). Exploring the feasibility of outdoor indigenous games and songs to enhance play-based pedagogy in early childhood education. Journal of Childhood, Education & Society, 4(3), 391–405. https://doi.org/10.37291/2717638X.202343270