Just play?

As many of us who study early childhood know, the world of make-believe is so much more than meets the eye. I recently rediscovered the work of Bob Hughes. This brief refresher has caused me to, once again, sharpen my eyes to the play I see happening  in my classroom daily.

For this blog I would simply like to share a list of the various types of play identified and detailed by Hughes. He  categorized the following 16 types of play in his 1996 book A Playworker’s Taxonomy of Play Types, London: PLAYLINK, UK.

  • Symbolic play — when children begin to substitute one object for another, for example when a stick becomes a horse
  • Rough and tumble play — close encounter physical play such as play fighting
  • Socio-dramatic play — play which allows children to take on different roles and act out experiences, such as taking care of a baby doll
  • Social play — interacting with others through play
  • Creative play — allows children to explore and discover their creativity
  • Communication play — play which involves any form of communication, for example using words, listening, telling jokes, singing, acting, body and sign languages, facial expressions etc
  • Dramatic play — children using their imagination to act out various roles/events
  • Deep play — risky play that confronts fear and allows children to discover their boundaries
  • Exploratory play — play that allows children to investigate and discover their surrounding environment and factual information
  • Fantasy play — when children rearrange the world in a fantastical way
  • Imaginative play — pretending to be or an object to be someone, something or somewhere
  • Mastery play — when a child is able to control motor movements to a degree where they no longer have to focus on them and can focus on other types of play simultaneously
  • Locomotor play — play which involves movement of any type, for example running, skipping, jumping climbing etc
  • Object play — playing with objects and discovering their uses and potential
  • Recapitulative play — play through which children explore their ancestry and history which could include rituals, story telling, fire and growing food
  • Role play — when children explore different ways of being, such as pretending to be a doctor or a police officer or a cowboy etc



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