Different Types of Play and Their Benefits

This is part of articles about learning through play. 

Play can be divided into a number of different categories.

Solo Play

Solo play involves any type of play activity that a child does by themselves.This may include drawing, coloring, puzzles, playing with dolls, stuffed animals, cars or any other similar toy while engaging in imaginative play.

Group Play

It involves your child and one or more children or adults engaging in a fun activity.This can include any activity that can be a solo activity, as well as a number of other activities including organized sports, hopscotch, tag, and hide and seek.

Active Play

Active Play includes any type of play with a great deal of movement, such as running, jumping, sports, climbing, skipping and more.

Quiet Play

This includes any activity that doesn’t require a great deal of physical movement or a lot of noise.Activities such as crafts, coloring, building with blocks, solving a puzzle, and art are all great examples of quiet play.

Manipulative Play

Manipulative Play involves any type of play where your child physically moves pieces of objects to get certain desired results, or to see what happens when they move around these pieces.Toys involved in this type of play can involve building and stacking toys, nesting toys, toys that produce sounds when you push a button, shake it or squeeze it, or toys such as puzzles, models and crafts.

Creative Play

Creative Play involves any type of play that allows your child to use their imagination, such as crafts, story telling, painting, drawing, pretend or make believe.


Game Playing

Game Playing involves playing any games that normally have set rules. This can include board games, computer games, and even organized activities and sports.

Organized Play normally involves a group of participants and is also usually supervised by an adult. This type of play includes playdates, sports, clubs, and other types of activities.

Free Play simply means that a child is free to engage in any fun activity that interests them.The child not only chooses the activity (within limits), but they also make up the rules if any rules are involved.

Normally in free play, a parent or other adult may observe and sometimes redirect or settle disputes.

But the adult usually does not direct the activity in any way.

Free play can involve anything from playing in sand and water, to swinging or using other playground equipment, to playing pretend and many other activities.

As you can see by looking at the different categories, a child may engage in two or more types of play when enjoying a single activity.

For example, a child who plays pee-wee football is engaging in active, organized and group play all at the same time.

A child who is enjoying working on a jigsaw puzzle is engaging in quiet and manipulative play.

As a parent, you also need to keep in mind that your child learns different skills from different types of categories of play.

For example, solo play allows your child to gain skills in self reliance and in individual thinking.

Group play helps your child to develop skills such as co-operation, verbal communication skills, and taking turns.

Active play helps your child develop gross motor skills, balance and physical strength.

And many quiet activities help your child to develop skills such as fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

One type of activity or category of play is not any better than another.

In order for your child to learn and develop a range of skills, engaging in a balance of all the different categories of play will provide the greatest benefit.


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