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Play is a jumbo category, a big umbrella term. Since so many different actions, expressions, movements, and thoughts are called play, a singular definition of the construct is not possible. Play is easier to describe or to indicate by example. Any definition of play is not true or false but useful or not useful for a given situation or purpose, such as found in a specific research study or early childhood program.

A popular approach in early childhood education (ECE) research, policy making, and practice is to characterize play as mental or physical activity that possesses certain attributes. Many scholars have pointed out that in ECE an overt action or expression is more likely to be called play if the expression meets the additive criteria of ...

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