Open Access Peer-reviewed Research Article

Gamification in preschool science education

Main Article Content

Aikaterini Xezonaki corresponding author


Over the last few years, rapid technological progress has developed our lives in all areas. The adoption of technology in the everyday lives of both adults and children through smart mobile devices has led to the foreseeable integration of digital tools in the educational process. Smart mobile devices and the applications that accompany them have been proven effective in the educational field since they allow students to acquire knowledge through activities with an interactive and playful character. A technique that has gained popularity among technology users in the last decades is gamification. Gamification combines mechanisms and elements of games, enhancing students' learning, motivation, and interest in various educational fields, such as mathematics and science. The usage of game elements in education is not encountered for the first time due to the spread of gamification in technology, but it has been mentioned since the early ancient Greek years. However, technology has reinforced gamification through components and techniques that provide students with all the necessary supplies leading to positive learning outcomes. This bibliographic review presents the literature findings on gamification through smart mobile devices in science teaching in preschool education.

mobile learning, gamification, science education, natural Sciences, mathematics, preschool education

Article Details

How to Cite
Xezonaki, A. (2022). Gamification in preschool science education. Advances in Mobile Learning Educational Research, 2(2), 308-320.


  1. Adbo, K., & Carulla, C. V. (2019). Designing play-based learning chemistry activities in the preschool environment. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 20(3), 542-553.
  2. Akerson, V. L., Weiland, I., & Fouad, K. E. (2015). Children's ideas about life science concepts. In Research in early childhood science education (pp. 99-123). Springer, Dordrecht.
  3. Ampartzaki, M., & Kalogiannakis, M. (2016). Astronomy in early childhood education: A concept-based approach. Early Childhood Education Journal, 44(2), 169-179.
  4. Andersson, K., & Gullberg, A. (2014). What is science in preschool, and what do teachers have to know to empower children?. Cultural studies of science education, 9(2), 275-296.
  5. Andrade, P., & Law, E. L. C. (2018). User-based evaluation of gamification elements in an educational application. In Proceedings of the 32nd International BCS Human-Computer Interaction Conference 32 (pp. 1-13).
  6. Anthony, G., & Walshaw, M. (2009). Mathematics education in the early years: Building bridges. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 10(2), 107-121.
  7. Blohm, I., & Leimeister, J. M. (2013). Gamification. Business & information systems engineering, 5(4), 275-278.
  8. Bocconi, S., Chioccariello, A., & Earp, J. (2018). The Nordic approach to introducing Computational Thinking and programming in compulsory education. Report prepared for the Nordic@ BETT2018 Steering Group, 397-400.
  9. Bose, K., & Seetso, G. (2016). Science and mathematics teaching through local games in preschools of Botswana. South African Journal of Childhood Education, 6(2), 1-9.
  10. Bovermann, K., & Bastiaens, T. J. (2020). Towards a motivational design? Connecting gamification user types and online learning activities. Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, 15(1), 1-18.
  11. Bruner, J. S. (1972). Nature and uses of immaturity. American psychologist, 27(8), 687.
  12. Bryant, D., Clifford, D., Early, D., & Little, L. (2005). NCEDL Pre-Kindergarten Study. Early Developments. Volume 9, Number 1, Spring 2005. FPG Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina.
  13. Buckley, P., & Doyle, E. (2016). Gamification and student motivation. Interactive learning environments, 24(6), 1162-1175.
  14. Clark, W. & Luckin, R. (2013). What the research says: iPads in the classroom. London Knowledge Lab Report. Retrieved from
  15. Copley, J. V., & Padron, Y. (1998). Preparing Teachers of Young Learners: Professional Development of Early Childhood Teachers in Mathematics and Science.
  16. Copple, C., & Bredekamp, S. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. National Association for the Education of Young Children. 1313 L Street NW Suite 500, Washington, DC 22205-4101.
  17. Curren, R. R. (2000). Aristotle on the necessity of public education. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  18. Davis, L. L., Kong, X., McBride, Y., & Morrison, K. M. (2017). Device comparability of tablets and computers for assessment purposes. Applied Measurement in Education, 30(1), 16-26.
  19. Deterding, S., Dixon, D., Khaled, R., & Nacke, L. (2011, September). From game design elements to gamefulness: defining ``gamification". Proceedings of the 15th international academic MindTrek conference: Envisioning future media environments (pp. 9-15).
  20. Dicheva, D., Dichev, C., Agre, G., & Angelova, G. (2015). Gamification in education: A systematic mapping study. Journal of educational technology & society, 18(3), 75-88.
  21. Edwards, K. (2011). Learning scientific knowledge from and with others. Early Childhood Folio, 15(1), 7-11.
  22. Ernest, P. (1986). Games. A rationale for their use in the teaching of mathematics in school. Mathematics in school, 15(1), 2-5.
  23. Eshach, H., & Fried, M. N. (2005). Should science be taught in early childhood? Journal of science education and technology, 14(3), 315-336.
  24. Fantozzi, V. B. (2021). ``It's Everyone's iPad": Tablet use in a play-based preschool classroom. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 19(2), 115-127.
  25. Fischer, C., Malycha, C. P., & Schafmann, E. (2019). The influence of intrinsic motivation and synergistic extrinsic motivators on creativity and innovation. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 137.
  26. Fleer, M., Gomes, J., & March, S. (2014). Science learning affordances in preschool environments. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 39(1), 38-48.
  27. Fragkiadaki, G., & Ravanis, K. (2021). The unity between intellect, affect, and action in a child's learning and development in science. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 29, 100495.
  28. Fokides, E., & Zachristou, D. (2020). Teaching Natural Sciences to Kindergarten Students Using Tablets: Results from a Pilot Project. Mobile learning applications in early childhood education (pp. 40-60). IGI Global.
  29. Fromberg, D. P. (1999). A review of research on play. The early childhood curriculum: Current findings in theory and practice, 27-53.
  30. Furman, M., De Angelis, S., Dominguez Prost, E., & Taylor, I. (2019). Tablets as an educational tool for enhancing preschool science. International Journal of Early Years Education, 27(1), 6-19.
  31. Garbett, D. (2003). Science education in early childhood teacher education: Putting forward a case to enhance student teachers' confidence and competence. Research in science education, 33(4), 467-481.
  32. Garcia-Iruela, M., & Hijón-Neira, R. (2020). What Perception Do Students Have About the Gamification Elements?. IEEE Access, 8, 134386-134392.
  33. Gasparini, A., & Culén, A. L. (2011). Childrens Journey with iPads in the Classroom. In Opportunities and Challenges when Designing and Developing with Kids@ School at the Interaction Design for Children Conference (IDC 2011), Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  34. Gasteiger, H., & Benz, C. (2018). Enhancing and analyzing kindergarten teachers' professional knowledge for early mathematics education. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 51, 109-117.
  35. Gomes, J., & Fleer, M. (2019). The development of a scientific motive: How preschool Science and home play reciprocally contribute to Science learning. Research in Science Education, 49(2), 613-634.
  36. Gray, E., Pitta, D., & Tall, D. (2000). Objects, actions, and images: A perspective on early number development. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 18(4), 401-413.
  37. Greenfield, D. B., Jirout, J., Dominguez, X., Greenberg, A., Maier, M., & Fuccillo, J. (2009). Science in the preschool classroom: A programmatic research agenda to improve science readiness. Early Education and Development, 20(2), 238-264.
  38. Guo, Y., Wang, S., Hall, A. H., Breit-Smith, A., & Busch, J. (2016). The effects of science instruction on young children's vocabulary learning: A research synthesis. Early Childhood Education Journal, 44(4), 359-367.
  39. Hamari, J., Koivisto, J., & Sarsa, H. (2014). Does gamification work?--a literature review of empirical studies on gamification. In 2014 47th Hawaii international conference on system sciences (pp. 3025-3034). Ieee.
  40. Hartup, W. W. (1993). Adolescents and their friends. New directions for child and adolescent development, 1993(60), 3-22.
  41. Hirsh-Pasek, K., Zosh, J. M., Golinkoff, R. M., Gray, J. H., Robb, M. B., & Kaufman, J. (2015). Putting education in ``educational" apps: Lessons from the science of learning. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 16(1), 3-34.
  42. Humphreys, A. P., & Smith, P. K. (1987). Rough and tumble, friendship, and dominance in schoolchildren: Evidence for continuity and change with age. Child development, 201-212.
  43. Hunter, D., & Werbach, K. (2012). For the win (Vol. 2). Wharton digital press. https://vr-entertain. com/wpcontent/uploads/BattleHuntersIM_4-US-V1
  44. Huotari, K., & Hamari, J. (2012). Defining gamification: a service marketing perspective. Proceeding of the 16th international academic MindTrek conference (pp. 17-22).
  45. Iskrenovic-Momcilovic, O. (2018). Using computers in teaching in higher education. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 9(4), 71.
  46. Jack, C., & Higgins, S. (2019). What is educational technology and how is it being used to support teaching and learning in the early years? International Journal of Early Years Education, 27(3), 222-237.
  47. Jahn, K., Kordyaka, B., Machulska, A., Eiler, T. J., Gruenewald, A., Klucken, T., ... & Niehaves, B. (2021). Individualized gamification elements: The impact of avatar and feedback design on reuse intention. Computers in Human Behavior, 119, 106702.
  48. Jones, A. J. (2000). Game theory: Mathematical models of conflict. Elsevier.
  49. Jones, S. M., Katyal, P., Xie, X., Nicolas, M. P., Leung, E. M., Noland, D. M., & Montclare, J. K. (2019). A 'KAHOOT!' approach: the effectiveness of game-based learning for an advanced placement biology class. Simulation & Gaming, 50(6), 832-847.
  50. Kalogiannakis, M., Nirgianaki, G. M., & Papadakis, S. (2018). Teaching magnetism to preschool children: The effectiveness of picture story reading. Early Childhood Education Journal, 46(5), 535-546.
  51. Kalogiannakis, M., Ampartzaki, M., Papadakis, St., & Skaraki, E. (2018). Teaching Natural Science Concepts to Young Children with Mobile Devices and Hands-on Activities. A Case Study. International Journal of Teaching and Case Studies, 9(2), 171-183.
  52. Kalogiannakis, M., Papadakis, S., & Zourmpakis, A. I. (2021). Gamification in science education. A systematic review of the literature. Education Sciences, 11(1), 22.
  53. Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: game-based methods and strategies for training and education. John Wiley & Sons.
  54. Karademir, A., & Akman, B. (2021). Preschool Inquiry-Based Mathematics in Practice: Perspectives of Teachers and Parents. Eğitimde Nitel Araştırmalar Dergisi, 9(1), 151-178.
  55. Khan, A., Boroomand, F., Webster, J., & Minocher, X. (2020). From Elements to Structures: An Agenda for Organisational Gamification. European Journal of Information Systems, 29(6), 621-640.
  56. Kickmeier-Rust, M. D., Hillemann, E. C., & Albert, D. (2014). Gamification and smart feedback: Experiences with a primary school level math app. International Journal of Game-Based Learning (IJGBL), 4(3), 35-46.
  57. Kostenius, C., Hallberg, J., & Lindqvist, A. K. (2018). Gamification of health education: Schoolchildren's participation in the development of a serious game to promote health and learning. Health Education.
  58. Lamrani, R., & Abdelwahed, E. H. (2020). Game-based learning and gamification to improve skills in early years education. Computer Science and Information Systems, 17(1), 339-356.
  59. Lamrani, R., Chraibi, S., Qassimi, S., & Hafidi, M. (2018). Gamification and serious games based learning for early childhood in rural areas. In International conference on model and data engineering (pp. 79-90). Springer, Cham.
  60. Larimore, R. A. (2020). Preschool science education: A vision for the future. Early Childhood Education Journal, 48(6), 703-714.
  61. Lee, J. J., & Hammer, J. (2011). Gamifcation in education: What, how, why bother? Academic Exchange Quarterly, 15(2), 1-5.
  62. Lo, C. K., & Hew, K. F. (2020). A comparison of flipped learning with gamification, traditional learning, and online independent study: the effects on students' mathematics achievement and cognitive engagement. Interactive Learning Environments, 28(4), 464-481.
  63. Loganathan, P., Talib, C., Thoe, N., Aliyu, F., & Zawadski, R. (2019). Implementing Technology Infused Gamification in Science Classroom: A Systematic Review and Suggestions for Future Research. Learn. Sci. Math, 14, 60-73.
  64. López-Belmonte, J., Segura-Robles, A., Moreno-Guerrero, A. J., & Parra-González, M. E. (2021). Projection of e-learning in higher education: a study of its scientific production in web of science. European Journal of Investigation in Health, Psychology and Education, 11(1), 20-32.
  65. Major, L., Haßler, B., & Hennessy, S. (2017). Tablet use in schools: impact, affordances and considerations. In Handbook on digital learning for K-12 schools (pp. 115-128). Springer, Cham.
  66. Markopoulos, A. P., Fragkou, A., Kasidiaris, P. D., & Davim, J. P. (2015). Gamification in engineering education and professional training. International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education, 43(2), 118-131.
  67. Marlow, S. L., Salas, E., Landon, L. B., & Presnell, B. (2016). Eliciting teamwork with game attributes: A systematic review and research agenda. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, 413-423.
  68. Matchacheep, S., Chookeaw, S., & Nilsuk, P. (2019, October). A Gamification Digital Storytelling Learning Based on Cooperative Social Cloud to Promote Students' Teamwork Skill in Primary School. In Proceedings of The 3rd International Conference on Digital Technology in Education (pp. 132-135).
  69. Metwally, A. H. S., Nacke, L. E., Chang, M., Wang, Y., & Yousef, A. M. F. (2021). Revealing the hotspots of educational gamification: An umbrella review. International Journal of Educational Research, 109, 101832.
  70. Mohamad, S. N. M., Sazali, N. S. S., & Salleh, M. A. M. (2018). Gamification approach in education to increase learning engagement. Int. J. Humanit. Arts Soc. Sci, 4(1), 22-32.
  71. Morris, B., Croker, S., Zimmerman, C., Gill, D., & Romig, C. (2013). Gaming science: the ``Gamification" of scientific thinking. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 607.
  72. Mowafi, Y., Abumuhfouz, I., & Redifer, J. (2019). A play-based interactive learning approach for fostering counting and numbers learning skills for early childhood education using QR codes mobile technologies. In International Conference on Mobile Web and Intelligent Information Systems (pp. 16-26). Springer, Cham.
  73. National Science Teachers Association. (2014). NSTA position statement: Early childhood science education. Science and Children, 51(7), 10-12.
  74. Nayfeld, I., Fuccillo, J., & Greenfield, D. B. (2013). Executive functions in early learning: Extending the relationship between executive functions and school readiness to science. Learning and Individual Differences, 26, 81-88.
  75. Outhwaite, L. A., Faulder, M., Gulliford, A., & Pitchford, N. J. (2019). Raising early achievement in math with interactive apps: A randomized control trial. Journal of educational psychology, 111(2), 284.
  76. Papadakis, S., & Kalogiannakis, M. (Eds.). (2019). Mobile learning applications in early childhood education. IGI Global.
  77. Papadakis, S., Kalogiannakis, M., & Zaranis, N. (2016a). Comparing tablets and PCs in teaching mathematics: An attempt to improve mathematics competence in early childhood education. Preschool and Primary Education, 4(2), 241-253.
  78. Papadakis, S., Kalogiannakis, M., & Zaranis, N. (2016b). Developing fundamental programming concepts and computational thinking with ScratchJr in preschool education: a case study. International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation, 10(3), 187-202.
  79. Papadakis, S., Kalogiannakis, M., & Zaranis, N. (2018). Educational apps from the Android Google Play for Greek preschoolers: A systematic review. Computers & Education, 116, 139-160.
  80. Papadakis, S., Kalogiannakis, M., & Zaranis, N. (2021). Teaching mathematics with mobile devices and the Realistic Mathematical Education (RME) approach in kindergarten. Advances in Mobile Learning Educational Research, 1(1), 5-18.
  81. Pechtelidis, Y., & G Stamou, A. (2017). The ``competent child" in times of crisis: A synthesis of Foucauldian with critical discourse analysis in Greek preschool curricula. Palgrave Communications, 3(1), 1-11.
  82. Peixoto, M., & Silva, C. (2017). A gamification requirements catalog for educational software: results from a systematic literature review and a survey with experts. In Proceedings of the Symposium on Applied Computing (pp. 1108-1113).
  83. Perryer, C., Celestine, N. A., Scott-Ladd, B., & Leighton, C. (2016). Enhancing workplace motivation through gamification: Transferrable lessons from pedagogy. The International Journal of Management Education, 14(3), 327-335.
  84. Plowman, L., & Stephen, C. (2005). Children, play, and computers in preschool education. British journal of educational technology, 36(2), 145-157.
  85. Putra, S. D., & Yasin, V. (2021). MDA Framework Approach for Gamification-Based Elementary Mathematics Learning Design. International Journal of Engineering, Science and Information Technology, 1(3), 35-39.
  86. Rahman, M. H. A., Ismail, D., Noor, A. Z. B. M., & Salleh, N. S. B. M. (2018). Gamification elements and their impacts on teaching and learning-A review. The International Journal of Multimedia & Its Applications (IJMA) Vol, 10.
  87. Ramos-Vega, M. C., Palma-Morales, V. M., Pérez-Marín, D., & Moguerza, J. M. (2021). Stimulating children's engagement with an educational serious videogame using Lean UX co-design. Entertainment Computing, 38, 100405.
  88. Ramsey, L. C. (2018). A qualitative study: Perception of preschool teachers use of technology in preparing for school readiness (Doctoral dissertation, Northcentral University).
  89. Razali, N., Nasir, N. A., Ismail, M. E., Sari, N. M., & Salleh, K. M. (2020). Gamification elements in Quizizz applications: Evaluating the impact on intrinsic and extrinsic student's motivation. In IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering (Vol. 917, No. 1, p. 012024). IOP Publishing.
  90. Sailer, M., & Homner, L. (2020). The gamification of learning: A meta-analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 32(1), 77-112.
  91. Sánchez-Rivas, E., Ruiz-Palmero, J., & Sánchez-Rodríguez, J. (2019). Gamification of Assessments in the Natural Sciences Subject in Primary Education. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 19(1), 95-111.
  92. Sanmugam, M., Mohd Zaid, N., Mohamed, H., Abdullah, Z., Aris, B., & Md Suhadi, S. (2015). Gamification as an educational technology tool in engaging and motivating students; An analyses review. Advanced Science Letters, 21(10), 3337-3341.
  93. Saracho, O. N., & Spodek, B. (1994). Matching preschool children's and teachers' cognitive styles. Perceptual and motor skills, 78(2), 683-689.
  94. Schöbel, S. M., Janson, A., & Söllner, M. (2020). Capturing the complexity of gamification elements: a holistic approach for analyzing existing and deriving novel gamification designs. European Journal of Information Systems, 29(6), 641-668.
  95. Schwarz, C. V., Passmore, C., & Reiser, B. J. (2017). Moving beyond ``knowing about" science to making sense of the world. Helping students make sense of the world using next generation science and engineering practices, 3-21.
  96. Seo, K. H., & Ginsburg, H. P. (2004). What is developmentally appropriate in early childhood mathematics education? Lessons from new research. Engaging young children in mathematics: Standards for early childhood mathematics education, 91-104.
  97. Setiawan, A., & Soeharto, S. (2020). Kahoot-based learning game to improve mathematics learning motivation of elementary school students. Al-Jabar: Jurnal Pendidikan Matematika, 11(1), 39-48.
  98. Sezgin, S., Bozkurt, A., YILMAZ, E. A., Van der Linden, N., & Learning, P. (2020). Gamification, education and theoretical approaches: Motivation, engagement and sustainability in learning processes.
  99. Sudarmilah, E., & Arbain, A. F. (2019). Using Gamification to Stimulate the Cognitive Ability of Preschoolers. Int. J. Innov. Technol. Explor. Eng., 8(6), 1250-1256.
  100. Surendeleg, G., Murwa, V., Yun, H. K., & Kim, Y. S. (2014). The role of gamification in education-a literature review. Contemporary Engineering Sciences, 7(29), 1609-1616.
  101. Sylva, K., Bruner, J. S., & Genova, P. (1976). The role of play in the problem-solving of children 3-5 years old. Play: Its role in development and evolution, 244-257.
  102. Thiebes, S., Lins, S., & Basten, D. (2014). Gamifying Information Systems-a synthesis of Gamification mechanics and Dynamics. In ECIS.
  103. Toda, A. M., Valle, P. H., & Isotani, S. (2017). The dark side of gamification: An overview of negative effects of gamification in education. In Researcher links workshop: higher education for all (pp. 143-156). Springer, Cham.
  104. Tsai, F. H. (2018). The development and evaluation of a computer-simulated science inquiry environment using gamified elements. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 56(1), 3-22.
  105. Udjaja, Y., Guizot, V. S., & Chandra, N. (2018). Gamification for elementary mathematics learning in Indonesia. International Journal of Electrical and Computer Engineering (IJECE), 8(6).
  106. Umboh, D., Tarusu, D., Marini, A., & Sumantri, M. S. (2021). Improvement of student mathematics learning outcomes through Kahoot learning games application at elementary school. In Journal of Physics: Conference Series (Vol. 1869, No. 1, p. 012124). IOP Publishing.
  107. West, D. M. (2013). Mobile learning: Transforming education, engaging students, and improving outcomes. Brookings Policy Report, 9, 1-7.
  108. Williams, I. (2010). Plato and education. The SAGE Handbook of Philosophy of Education, 69-84.
  109. Wood, L., & Bennett, N. (1997). The rhetoric and reality of play: Teachers' thinking and classroom practice. Early Years, 17(2), 22-27.
  110. Zakaria, N. S., Saripan, M. I., Subarimaniam, N., & Ismail, A. (2020). Assessing Ethoshunt as a gamification-based mobile app in ethics education: pilot mixed-methods study. JMIR serious games, 8(3), e18247.
  111. Zaranis, N., Kalogiannakis, M., & Papadakis, S. (2013). Using mobile devices for teaching realistic mathematics in kindergarten education. Creative Education, 4(7), 1-10.
  112. Zichermann, G., & Cunningham, C. (2011). Gamification by design: Implementing game mechanics in web and mobile apps. O'Reilly Media, Inc.
  113. Zourmpakis, A. I., Papadakis, S., & Kalogiannakis, M. (2022). Education of preschool and elementary teachers on the use of adaptive gamification in science education. International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 14(1), 1-16.
  114. Zsoldos-Marchis, I. (2020). Gamification of the mathematics course for pre-service preschool and primary school teachers. In Proceedings of 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies (pp. 6787-6794).