TitleThe playful learning curriculum: A randomized controlled trial
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsStørksen, I, Rege, M, Solli, IFoldøy, Braak, Dten, Lenes, R, Geldhof, GJ
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
Pagination36 - 46
Date Published02/2023


  • Norway lacks a well-defined and age-appropriate curriculum for early childhood
  • Play and natural exploration is the prevailing pedagogical approach
  • Playful learning theory suggests enriching free play with guided play
  • We examined effects of a Playful Learning Curriculum on school readiness
  • Results showed significant effects on early mathematical skills


Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Norway has play, exploration, and discovery as foundations for children's learning, but lacks a curriculum that describes and supports principles of playful learning. The present study examines the effects of the Playful Learning Curriculum in ECEC on children's school readiness skills in the play-based ECEC context of Norway. A total of 96 ECEC centers signed up for the project and recruited 1,313 children. Centers were randomly assigned to an intervention (n = 49) and a control group (n = 47). Intervention centers were asked to implement the curriculum for at least eight hours per week for nine months, and control centers continued as usual. Outcomes included the Ani Banani Math Test (ABMT), the Preschool Early Numeracy Skills Screener (PENS), the Norwegian Vocabulary Test (NVT), and the Weschler's Intelligence Digit Span Test (DS). Analyses clustered by centers and controlling for blocks showed a significant effect of the intervention on children's mathematics skills, ABMT (d =.079, p =.03) and PENS (d =.104, p =.01), but no significant effects on working memory assessed by DS (d =.070, p =.14) or expressive vocabulary assessed by NVT (d = -.011, p = .65). This study shows that a well-defined age-appropriate curriculum based on playful learning may strengthen children's preschool mathematics skills in a play-based ECEC context.

Short TitleEarly Childhood Research Quarterly