Characteristics of play are "flexibility, nonliterality, positive affect, intrinsically motivated" (Krasnor & Pepler, 1980).

Add to the above list a preoccupation with means to a goal rather than the end in itself and remove intrinsic motivation (Smith, Takhvar, Gore, & Vollstedt, 1985).

Some play activities are marked by inflexibility, involuntary actions, and portrayal of negative affect, which negates the above list of characteristics (Sutton-Smith & Kelly-Byrne, 1984).

Play is intrinsically motivated, concerned with means rather than ends, is child-directed, nonliteral, free from externally dictated rule structures, rules that do exist can be modified by players, and requires active engagement of players (Rubin, Fein, & Vandenberg, 1983).

"An activity with or without materials in which bodily movement is an end in itself (Buhler, 1935)."

"A special from of violating fixity (Bruner, 1976, pp. 31)."

Animal play is "persistent manipulative or locomotor experimentation with objects, with the environment, with one's own body, and/or with other organisms (Fagan, 1976)."

Provisional definition of play is "behavior formally resembling optimal learning by experimentation but not serving immediate adaptive goals such as maintenance, survival, or reproduction (Fagan, 1976, pp. 99)."

"Optimal generic learning by experimentation in a relaxed field (Fagan, 1976, pp. 99)."

Free self-expression for the pleasure of expression (Seashore)

The natural unfolding of the germinal leaves of childhood (Froebel).

The motor habits and spirit of the past persisting in the present (Hall).

Instinctive practice, without serious intent, of activities which will later be essential to life (Groos).

Activities not consciously performed for the sake of any result beyond themselves (Dewey).

The aimless expenditure of exuberant energy (Schiller).

Superfluous actions taking place instinctively in the absece of real actions.... Activity performed for the immediate gratification derived without regard for ulterior benefits (Spenser).

Activity in itself free, aimless, amusing, or diverting (Lazarus).

A type of play directed at the maintenance of joy (Shand).

An instinctive form of self-expression and emotional escape value (Dulles).

Highly motivated activity, which, as free from conflicts, is usually, though not aways, pleasureable (Curti).


Types of Play:

Piaget (1951)

  1. Practice play
  2. Symbolic play
  3. Games with rules

Smilansky (1968)

  1. Functional play
  2. Constructive play
  3. Dramatic play
  4. Games with rules

Parten (1932) Categories of social participation:

Fagan (1976) Structural characteristics of play:



The use of preexisting knowledge in manipulating objects (Belsky & Most, 1981).

Counterfactual reasoning involving a created reality that is alternative to the perceived reality (Au, 1992; Harris et al., 1991, 1993, 1994; Harris & Kavanaugh, 1993; Bretherton et al., 1989; Leslie, 1987, 1994; Perner, 1991, 1994; Lillard, 1993, 1994).

"The projecting of a supposed situation onto an actual one (Lillard, 1993, pp. 349)."

"Action without ojects; whereas imagination is in the head (Welch-Ross, 1995)."




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