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Definition

Physical play mostly involves play using one’s own body. Generally split into three main sub-types:

  1. Gross motor/exercise play: includes running, climbing, balancing, gymnastics, skipping, dancing - can be combined with pretence (climbing as part of an imagined adventure) or games with rules (playground games, sports)
  2. Fine motor: includes manipulative practice, hand-eye co-ordination - can be combined with Object play (construction toys) or Semiotic play (colouring in, drawing, clay modelling)
  3. Rough and Tumble: play fighting; includes tickling, rolling around, horse play; always social and mutually consensual (but can be with a pet)

See also: Outdoor play

Archer, C. et al. (2015) Measuring the Quality of Movement-Play in Early Childhood Education Settings: Linking Movement-Play and Neuroscience (Journal Article)

Abstract:

This article explores the links between neuroscience research, movement, and neurological dysfunction in relation to young children's learning and development. While policymakers have recognised the importance of early development the role of movement has been overlooked. A small scale study was undertaken in four early years settings in a London Borough in order to investigate whether an intervention resulted in improved movement experiences for children. This is the first study to assess the quality of movement-play using a newly developed measuring scale. Results showed that an intervention does result in improved movement experiences for young children. Consistently enhanced results were found in relation to the vital role of the adult at the two intervention settings. For Vygotsky the adult role is critical to the quality of play and learning for the child (Siraj-Blatchford 2009). There is scope for a larger scale piece of research spread across different sectors in order to further test the validity and reliability of the scale.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2015
Volume:
23
Page/s:
21-42
Synonyms:
  • Physical play
  • Play assessment
  • Rough and tumble
  • Teacher/caregiver play

Baker, C. (2014) African American Fathers' Contributions to Children's Early Academic Achievement: Evidence from Two-Parent Families from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Research Findings: This study utilized a large sample ("N" = 750) of 2-parent families from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort to examine the contributions of African American fathers' home literacy involvement, play activities, and caregiving at 24 months to children's reading and math achievement in preschool. After family characteristics and child characteristics were controlled for, both mother and father characteristics predicted child achievement. Mother age predicted math achievement but not reading. Furthermore, even after mother predictors were entered into the hierarchical regressions, fathers' education and home literacy involvement also significantly predicted achievement. African American fathers who engaged in more frequent shared book reading, telling stories, singing songs, and provided more children's books in their homes at 24 months had children with better reading and math scores in preschool. Practice or Policy: These findings support growing evidence that fathers contribute to child development. Implications for research on early academic achievement in ethnically diverse samples are discussed.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2014
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
25
Page/s:
19-35
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Literacy
  • Longitudinal
  • Numeracy
  • Parent/Guardian play
  • Physical play
  • Play with Father
  • Socio-economic background
Relevant age group/s:

Bates, B. et al. (2015) Measures of outdoor play and independent mobility in children and youth: A methodological review (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Objectives
Declines in children's outdoor play have been documented globally, which are partly due to heightened restrictions around children's independent mobility. Literature on outdoor play and children's independent mobility is increasing, yet no paper has summarized the various methodological approaches used. A methodological review could highlight most commonly used measures and comprehensive research designs that could result in more standardized methodological approaches.
Design
Methodological review.
Methods
A standardized protocol guided a methodological review of published research on measures of outdoor play and children's independent mobility in children and youth (0–18 years). Online searches of 8 electronic databases were conducted and studies included if they contained a subjective/objective measure of outdoor play or children's independent mobility. References of included articles were scanned to identify additional articles.
Results
Twenty-four studies were included on outdoor play, and twenty-three on children's independent mobility. Study designs were diverse. Common objective measures included accelerometry, global positioning systems and direct observation; questionnaires, surveys and interviews were common subjective measures. Focus groups, activity logs, monitoring sheets, travel/activity diaries, behavioral maps and guided tours were also utilized. Questionnaires were used most frequently, yet few studies used the same questionnaire. Five studies employed comprehensive, mixed-methods designs.
Conclusions
Outdoor play and children's independent mobility have been measured using a wide variety of techniques, with only a few studies using similar methodologies. A standardized methodological approach does not exist. Future researchers should consider including both objective measures (accelerometry and global positioning systems) and subjective measures (questionnaires, activity logs, interviews), as more comprehensive designs will enhance understanding of each multidimensional construct. Creating a standardized methodological approach would improve study comparisons.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2015
Volume:
18
Page/s:
545-552
Synonyms:
  • Literature review
  • Outdoor play
  • Physical health
  • Physical play
  • Well-being outcomes
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Berkhout, L. et al. (2012) Observation Instrument of Play Behaviour in a Classroom Setting (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The objective of this study was to develop an instrument to observe the play behaviour of a whole group of children from four to six years of age in a classroom setting on the basis of video recording. The instrument was developed in collaboration with experienced teachers and experts on play. Categories of play were derived from the literature and daily practice in Dutch classrooms (i.e. sensory, motor, construction, make-believe play and arts-and-games). Analysis of the video with the help of the observation instrument showed that the between-observer reliability was almost perfect. The simple and clearly structured instrument may be used by teachers or in teachers' education.

Date:
January 2012
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
182
Page/s:
1325-1333
Synonyms:
  • Object play
  • Physical play
  • Play assessment
  • Pretend play
Relevant age group/s:

Brockman, R. et al. (2010) The contribution of active play to the physical activity of primary school children (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Objective
To examine associations between active play and the physical activity of 10- to 11-year-old children.
Method
Cross-sectional study of 747, 10- tot11-year-olds, conducted between February 2008 and March 2009 in Bristol, UK. Mean minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and mean activity levels (counts per minute, CPM) were assessed by accelerometer. Frequency of active play was self-reported.
Results
Regression models indicated that frequent active play (5 or more days per week) was associated with mean daily activity levels (CPM) (girls: p = < 0.01; boys: p = <0.01), but was only associated with mean daily MVPA for girls (p = < 0.01). For leisure-time physical activity, active play was associated with children's CPM (girls: p = 0.02; boys: p = < 0.01) and MVPA (girls: p = < 0.01; boys: p = 0.03) on weekdays after school, but was only associated with weekend day CPM for boys (p =<0.01).
Conclusion
Active play is associated with children's physical activity with after-school potentially being a critical period. Strategies to promote active play may prove to be a successful means of increasing children's physical activity.

Date:
January 2010
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
51
Page/s:
144-147
Synonyms:
  • Free play
  • Outdoor play
  • Physical health
  • Physical play
  • Well-being outcomes
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Brooker, L. et al. (2014) SAGE Handbook of Play and Learning in Early Childhood (Book)

Abstract:

'This Handbook offers diverse perspectives from scholars across the globe who help us see play in new ways. At the same time the basic nature of play gives a context for us to learn new theoretical frameworks and methods. A real gem!'
- Beth Graue, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, USA

Play and learning scholarship has developed considerably over the last decade, as has the recognition of its importance to children’s learning and development.

Containing chapters from highly respected researchers, whose work has been critical to building knowledge and expertise in the field, this Handbook focuses on examining historical, current and future research issues in play and learning scholarship.

Organized into three sections which consider:

theoretical and philosophical perspectives on play and learning
play in pedagogy, curriculum and assessment
play contexts.

The Handbook's breadth, clarity and rigor will make it essential reading for researchers and postgraduate students, as well as professionals with interest in this dynamic and changing field.

Liz Brooker is Reader in Early Childhood in the Faculty of Children and Learning at the Institute of Education, University of London.

Mindy Blaise is an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education in the Department of Early Childhood Education at the Hong Kong Institute of Education.

Susan Edwards is Associate Professor in Curriculum and Pedagogy at Australian Catholic University.

Date:
January 2014
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Cultural context
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Digital play
  • Learning
  • Outdoor play
  • Physical play
  • Play assessment
  • Playful learning
  • Playfulness
  • Playground
  • Pretend play

Carver, A. et al. (2008) Playing it safe: The influence of neighbourhood safety on children's physical activity—A review (Journal Article)

Abstract:
Date:
January 2008
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
14
Page/s:
217-227
Synonyms:
  • Literature review
  • Outdoor play
  • Physical health
  • Physical play
  • Playground
  • Well-being outcomes
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Feda, D. et al. (2012) Effect of increasing the choice of active options on children's physically active play (Journal Article)

Abstract:

bjectives: To determine whether increasing the choice of physical activity options increases the duration and intensity of children's physically active play. Design: This cross-sectional laboratory study included gender (male and female) and choice group [single toy (no choice), three toys (low choice), five toys (high choice)] as between participant factors. Methods: Boys and girls (. n=. 36, 8-12. y) were stratified, randomly assigned to a choice group that always provided access to each participant's most liked active toy(s), and allowed 60. min of free time. The same sedentary alternatives were freely available to all participants. Physical activity outcomes were measured by accelerometry, heart rate, and direct observation. Results: The number of active toys the children played with increased (. p<. 0.001) across each choice group. Minutes spent in MPA were greater in the low choice (. p<. 0.05) and high choice (. p<. 0.02) groups than the no choice group. Active playtime was greater (. p<. 0.01) in the low choice (79%) and high choice (95%) groups compared to the no choice group. Girls in the low and high choice groups had greater (. p<. 0.05) percent heart rate reserve when compared to girls in the no choice group. There was no difference in the boys' percent heart rate reserve between the no choice, low choice and high choice groups. Conclusions: Increasing the choice of active toys increases both the duration and intensity of physically active play, especially in girls. © 2011 Sports Medicine Australia.

Date:
January 2012
Volume:
15
Page/s:
334-340
Synonyms:
  • Experimental
  • Free play
  • Object play
  • Physical health
  • Physical play
  • Well-being outcomes
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Foundation, . (2015) What is Play? Play experts revealing their secrets... (Film)

Abstract:

Adults talk a lot about play, pretending they know what it is and what it's good for. We have asked a couple of real experts about what it is and what it feels…

What is Play? Play experts revealing their secrets... from LEGO Foundation on Vimeo.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2015
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Object play
  • Physical play
  • Rough and tumble
  • Semiotic play
  • Symbolic play
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Fromberg, D. et al. (2006) Play from Birth to Twelve (Book)

Abstract:

In light of recent standards-based and testing movements, the issue of play in childhood has taken on increased meaning for educational professionals and social scientists. This second edition of Play From Birth to Twelve offers comprehensive coverage of what we now know about play, its guiding principles, its dynamics and importance in early learning. These up-to-date essays, written by some of the most distinguished experts in the field, help students explore:
all aspects of play, including new approaches not yet covered in the literature
how teachers in various classroom situations set up and guide play to facilitate learning
how play is affected by societal violence, media reportage, technological innovations and other contemporary issues
which areas of play have been studied adequately and which require further research.

Date:
January 2006
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Cultural context
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Games with rules
  • Humour
  • Language
  • Learning
  • Object play
  • Outdoor play
  • Peers play
  • Physical play
  • Pretend play
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional