Views of play since late 1800s

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Views of play since late 1800s

Late 1800s

Play was thought to be character building and to strengthen good moral character but children were not thought to learn anything eg Play is aimless and it gets rid of surplus energy (Spencer) 1873.

Early 1900s

Play allows a child to practice adult behaviours. Children are more interested in the process rather than the products of play. Play changes as the child develops (Groos) 1901.

Play used as a way to gain insights into a child’s phobia. Role play used to eliminate the phobia (Freud) 1909.

Mid 1900s

Each child goes through the same stages of development and play in the same order. Stages of play: sensorimotor stage with six sub-stages (birth to 2 years), preoperational/ symbolic stage (2–7 years). Play includes solitary, social, imaginary and object play (Piaget) 1962

This was implemented through Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) where observations of young children were recorded and analysed in accordance with social, emotional, physical, cognitive and language domains – “ages and stages.”

Late 1900s

Frobel popularised the idea that the types of activities children engage in are crucial to their learning.  He developed kindergartens and toys/activities e.g. blocks, puzzles, construction kits, collage trolleys, child-sized home corner or dramatic area, child-sized tables and chairs, trestles and planks, slides, jumping mattresses.

Early 2000s

This period saw the emergence of EYLF and post-developmental theories of play. Play complexity is related primarily to children’s experiences and activities rather than their age.


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