This accessible and focused text for early childhood studies and early years students takes the reader through a detailed exploration of the nature of play. It begins by examining definitions of play and supports students to understand some of the key concepts of play. It goes on to consider the benefits of play, creativity and risk and the contexts for play. The final section considers children's rights and the adult role in the facilitation of play. Interactive activities and theory focus features are included throughout, helping students to arrive at an understanding of their own practice in relation to play.

Understanding Concepts of Play

Understanding concepts of play

In reading this chapter you will be encouraged to consider:

  • the difference between perspectives on and theoretical concepts of play;
  • some key perspectives relating to children and play;
  • a range of common theoretical concepts used to categorise, explore and understand play behaviours;
  • the terms ‘involvement’, ‘flow’ and ‘free-flow’ as applied to play.

You are asked to consider throughout how you use theory to support your practice.


This chapter aims to introduce and explore some common theoretical concepts relating to play. We begin with a consideration of what we can see when children are at play and how we can categorise this into types to help our analysis and understanding. We will consider children's exploratory play and symbolic behaviour and finally progress to a ...

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