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4 Types of Children’s Play

girl playing soap balloons

A child plays and the development is interdependent. A play promotes the kids’ development and the kids’ development intensifies the play quality. Because of that, if we want to promote the development of a child, we should understand children’s play. But, understanding children’s play isn’t so simple. If we want to understand children’s play, we must be familiar with the children’s motivation, needs, abilities,… Also, we should know the utilities of children’s play, features of children’s play according to their age, etc.

Anyhow, for better understanding children’s play, knowing types of children’s play is also very important. In pedagogical literature, 4 types of children’s play are the most common. Here are examples and explanations of each type of play.

1. Functional play

Functional play involves children’s performing certain functions of their body, toys, or things that they mastered. This type of play is the first play in children’s lives and the only play activity in babies. For example, babies play functional play putting their foot fingers in their mouth.

The most common functional plays are motoric activities. Examples of functional plays also can be: jumping on one foot, walking backward, turning on and off the TV, playing voices, etc.

children's play with baby rattle

2. Imitative role play

Playing an imitative role-play, a child shows the reality in his/her own way.

Children start to play it from about 18 months of age. In the beginning, this type of children’s play is simple, as part of joint activities with adults. One of the most common imitative role play is “feeding”. Holding the spoon, a child feeds other people or themselves by simple hand movements. Later, about 24 months of a child’s age, imitative role-plays start to be more complex. For example, a child feeds other people or themselves using a napkin to wipe their mouth, talking during the play, etc. Also, imitative role plays are games of illusion, drama games, fiction (a girl swings baby, a child plays a doctor or a teacher, ..), etc.

All activities of adults that a child observes and understands may become the subject of this type of play. Your task is to encourage a child to play it. You should provide space, time, and toys. Most important, you should express your interest for play and participating in it.

3. Constructive play

A constructive play includes activities in which a child shapes, builds on the material to achieve a specific goal. The result of those activities doesn’t have to be something functional always, as in the case of sewing clothes for the baby, bedding, and the like. They can be played without any idea and end result. The known constructive plays are playing with lego blocks when children shape these objects as a model of a real object.

types of children's play

4. Games with rules

This type of children’s play includes games in which all players must respect certain rules. Often, children constitute rules during play, so plays without rules became games with rules. Also, the huge number of plays have completed rules that are passed from generation to generation in certain cultures. These games include dominoes, chess, “Ring of Roses”,… Many of these games you can find on Puzzle Master. Puzzle Master has a large and unique collection of games with rules, like jigsaws and chess sets, etc. All family members can playing them! 

Through games with rules, children become aware of the importance of respecting the rules. Children should play by the rules to win the reward given by the goal of the game. In this way, a sense of the system develops. Also, these games promote children’s responsibility, perception, cognition, speech abilities, tolerance, empathy, responsibility, a sense of belonging to a group,… 

description of types of children's play

4 types of children’s play: the final advice

Obviously, the plays are children’s jobs. If you combine play with education, no matter what kind of play it’s, the educational process will become an integral part of children’s life. This is especially important for younger children. Toddlers and preschoolers learn by sensory exchange with the environment. This exchange is mostly accomplished through the play and should be used for pedagogical purposes. Because of that, you should direct a child’s exploratory activities in the cognitive direction, to learning emotional competencies, cultivating social relations, and promoting all aspects of development.


Do you like this article about 4 types of children’s play? Do you understand explanations and examples? If you have any more examples, comments, or suggestions, please, share them with us. 


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