Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Kinesiology, Sport Studies and Physical Education

First Advisor

Dr. Cathy Houston-Wilson


The work of children is play; and in that work, toys can be used to educate, provide enjoyment and help build the foundation of social skills. One of the guidelines from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) regarding developmentally appropriate practice is that children learn through interacting with their environment. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of toys, prompts, and flotation devices on the learning of water orientation skills for preschoolers with or without developmental delays. The 42 participants (ages 3 - 5 yr., male/female) were volunteers from a community preschool aquatics program. They were pre- and posttested with the Water Orientation Skills Checklist - Advanced (WOC-A) developed by Killan, Arena-Ronde, and Bruno (1987). The children were recruited to either the control-19 or intervention- 23 groups. The children received swimming lessons for 4 weeks, 30 minutes twice a week. The control group lessons consisted of demonstration and practice and the intervention group lessons consisted of environmental arrangements enhanced with toys, prompts, and flotation devices. The data were analyzed with the Mann-Whitney U test for nonparametric statistics. The findings demonstrated that with the Mann-Whitney z score of .33 at the .05 level, the toys, prompts, and flotation devices did not significantly enhance the preschoolers' learning of water orientation skills. An important finding, however, is that while the toys, prompts, and flotation devices did not enhance water skills, they also did not hinder the learning of swimming skills, as both groups' mean score of improvement was 11 points.


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