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Types of Play

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Bob Hughes developed and wrote the list of play types below.
One of the most fascinating things you can do with a cup of coffee in your hand is watch a group of kids at play, and try to spot the various play types in action. 

 •  Rough and Tumble Play – close encounter play which is less to do with fighting and  more to do with touching, tickling, gauging relative strength.  Discovering physical  flexibility and the exhilaration of display.
 • Socio-dramatic Play – the enactment of real and potential experiences of an intense  personal, social, domestic or interpersonal nature.
 •  Social Play – play during which the rules and criteria for social engagement and  interaction can be revealed, explored and amended.
 •  Creative Play – play which allows a new response, the transformation of information,  awareness of new connections, with an element of surprise.
 •  Communication Play – play using words, nuances or gestures for example, mime, jokes,  play acting, mickey taking, singing, debate, poetry.
 •  Dramatic Play – play which dramatizes events in which the child is not a direct  participator
 •  Symbolic Play – play which allows control, gradual exploration and increased  understanding without the risk of being out of one’s depth.
 •  Deep Play – play which allows the child to encounter risky or even potentially life threatening experiences, to assses risk, develop survival skills and conquer fear

 •  Exploratory Play – play to access factual information consisting of manipulative  behaviours such as handling, throwing, banging or mouthing objects.
 •  Fantasy Play – play which rearranges the world in the child’s way, a way which is unlikely  to occur.
 •  Imaginative Play – play where the conventional rules, which govern the physical world, do not apply.
 •  Locomotor Play – movement in any or every direction for its own sake.   

 •  Mastery – control of the physical and affective ingredients of the environment.
 •  Object Play – play which uses infinite and interesting sequences of hand-eye  manipulations and movements.  •  Role Play – play exploring ways of being, although not normally of an intense personal,  social, domestic or interpersonal nature.
•  Recapitulative Play – play that allows the child to explore ancestry, history, rituals,  stories, rhymes, fire and darkness.  Enables children to access play of earlier human  evolutionary stages.      

Devised by Bob Hughes, published in full in ‘A Playworker’s Taxonomy of Play Types’  (PLAYLINK, second edition 2002).    Available from PlayEducation, 13 Castelhythe, Ely, Cambs CB7 4BU

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