Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Published on 22 April 2020
Last updated on 11 June 2021
Play in a Crisis
Information on the importance of playing during a crisis.
Supporting your Child’s Play
Information on supporting your child's play during a crisis.
Information on managing play at home that feels noisy or destructive.
Information on messy play at home.
There are many types of play and sometimes play can involve two or more different types of play. When children play they don’t decide first what type of play they will engage with - they just play.
Here’s how Bob Hughes describes types of play in his book 'A Playworker’s Taxonomy of Play Types, London: PLAYLINK, UK.'
Play using words, nuances or gestures for example, mime, jokes, play acting, singing, debate, poetry.
Communication play used the whole body – from facial expressions, hand gestures, body demonstrating and vocally.
Play which allows a new response, the transformation of information, awareness of new connections, with an element of surprise.
This play type is one of the most visual by allowing a child to access loose parts, arts and craft materials.
Play which allows the child to encounter risky or even potentially life threatening experiences, to develop survival skills and conquer fear.
This type of play is defined by play behaviour that can also be classed as risky or adventurous. This has important benefits to a child’s development.
Play which dramatises events in which the child is not a direct participator.
Children may also wish to use make up and costumes in this type of play.
Play to access factual information consisting of manipulative behaviours such as handling, throwing, banging or mouthing objects.
Play which rearranges the world in the child’s way, a way which is unlikely to occur, for example being a superhero or sitting on a cloud.
Play where the conventional rules, which govern the physical world, do not apply, for example pretending to be an animal, or having a make-believe friend to being an object, for example a tree.
Control of the physical and affective ingredients of the environments, for example making a dam in a stream, building a bonfire and digging holes in the earth or sand.
Play which uses infinite and interesting sequences of hand-eye manipulations and movements, for example examining an item and looking into how and why something works.
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.
Skipping, Jumping, playing Chase.
A stick is a wand or the grass is molten lava.
Enacting real life through play, like playing house or mums and dads.
Playing a game together and deciding on rules for that play.
Acting a role like driving a train or having a tea party.
Discovering physical flexibility and the exhilaration of display. This will not involve any deliberate hurting but children should be laughing and having fun.
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