Play, as a teaching tool, has long been associated with the development of language, social, and motor skills in children. Despite the overwhelmingly positive effects of play on early development, increased screen time and ubiquitous technology is redefining the traditional notions of what constitutes play. A new genre of app that uses reflective artificial intelligence technology (RAIT) bridges the gap between traditional play and modern technology. This quantitative study explored OSMO’s RAIT app Words as an intervention tool, which uses an iPad’s built-in camera to integrate physical manipulatives into an onscreen app, ostensibly shifting the focus away from the iPad’s screen and back into the physical environment, as compared to traditional, play-based intervention facilitated by a pre-service teacher. Twenty-three kindergarteners participated in the study and were randomly placed into RAIT intervention or traditional, play-based intervention groups in either an individual or group learning context. As part of the study, participants engaged in three, 15-minute sessions of their respective intervention type, and completed a pre- and post-assessment. Based on the results of this study, participants either improved or remained the same in their knowledge of emergent literacy skills. However, the type of intervention did not affect the amount of learning that occurred, meaning RAIT interventions and traditional, play-based interventions and individual and group interventions fostered emergent literacy skills at approximately the same rate. These findings are valuable for early childhood practitioners, as they provide evidence of the positive impact of devoting time to emergent literacy interventions, as well as the possibilities of using OSMO’s Words app as a supplemental instructional tool.


Furey, Joan

Second Advisor

Broda, Matthew


Communication Studies; Education


Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research


reflective artificial intelligence technology, emergent literacy, play-based interventions

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Abigail L. Frank