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3.3: Types of Play

  • Page ID
    153779
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    Mildred Parten (1932) observed two to five year-old children and noted six types of play. Three types she labeled as non-social (unoccupied, solitary, and onlooker) and three types were categorized as social play (parallel, associative, and cooperative). The table below describes each type of play. Younger children engage in non-social play more than those older; by age five associative and cooperative play are the most common forms of play (Dyer & Moneta, 2006). [1]

    Table 3.2: Parten’s Classification of Types of Play[2]

    Category

    Description

    Unoccupied Play

    Children’s behavior seems more random and without a specific goal. This is the least common form of play.

    Solitary Play

    Children play by themselves, do not interact with others, nor are they engaging in similar activities as the children around them.

    Onlooker Play

    Children are observing other children playing. They may comment on the activities and even make suggestions, but will not directly join the play.

    Parallel Play

    Children play alongside each other, using similar toys, but do not directly interact with each other.

    Associative Play

    Children will interact with each other and share toys, but are not working toward a common goal.

    Cooperative Play

    Children are interacting to achieve a common goal. Children may take on different tasks to reach that goal.


    This page titled 3.3: Types of Play is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Jennifer Paris, Kristin Beeve, & Clint Springer.