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10 Types of Play

Children are born to learn and they absorb information through play. They parrot back words that they hear, copy household activities such as sweeping the floor, imitate grooming tasks such as brushing their hair, and they learn how to behave based on their observations. Children watch others and they learn how to interact with adults and peers and they understand acceptable and unacceptable behaviors based on what is reinforced (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1963).

Interactive play helps children develop a healthy emotional development of their social role, self-concept, self-esteem, and identity; peer engagement is essential for social, cognitive, and language development. Fostering peer interaction helps boost a child’s social emotional skills, enhances their confidence, offers them the ability to build foundational relationship skills with others, allows children to learn to problem-solve, and fosters effective communication skills.

There are several different types of play and each stage increases in complexity and builds on earlier stages. Below is a list of different types of play and the importance of each type of play.

10 types of play


Associative play. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Baby with bunny. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S.A. (1963). Vicarious reinforcement and imitative learning. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 6, 601-607.

Competitive play. (2013). Retrieved from

Constructive play. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Cooperative play. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Fantasy play. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Grablewski, A. (n.d.). Solitary play [photograph]. Retrieved from

Onlooker play. (n.d.). Retrieved from,nId,1882399

Parallel play. (n.d.) Retrieved from

Physical play. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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