Play begins with social-affective play, wherein infants take pleasure in relationships with people.
As adults talk, touch, nuzzle, and in various ways elicit responses from an infant, the infant soon learns to provoke parental emotions and responses with such behaviors as smiling, cooing, or initiating games and activities.
The type and intensity of the adult behavior with children vary among cultures.
Sense-pleasure play is a nonsocial stimulating experience that originates from without.
Objects in the environment (light and color, tastes and odors, textures and consistencies) attract children’s attention, stimulate their senses, and give pleasure.
Pleasurable experiences are derived from handling raw materials (water, sand, food), body motion (swinging, bouncing, rocking), and other uses of senses and abilities (smelling, humming)
After infants have developed the ability to grasp and manipulate, they persistently demonstrate and exercise their newly acquired abilities through skill play, repeating an action over and over again.
The element of sense-pleasure play is often evident in the practicing of a new ability, but all too frequently, the determination to conquer the elusive skill produces pain and frustration (e.g., putting paper in and taking it out of a toy car)
In unoccupied behavior, children are not playful but focus their attention momentarily on anything that strikes their interest.
Children daydream, fiddle with clothes or other objects, or walk aimlessly.
This role differs from that of onlookers, who actively observe the activity of others.
Dramatic or pretend play
Also known as symbolic or pretend play.
After children begin to invest situations and people with meanings and to attribute affective significance to the world, they can pretend and fantasize almost anything.
Children’s toys, replicas of the tools of society, provide a medium for learning about adult roles and activities that may be puzzling and frustrating to them.
The simple, imitative, dramatic play of toddlers, such as using the telephone, driving a car, or rocking a doll, evolves into more complex, sustained dramas of preschoolers, which extend beyond common domestic matters to the wider aspects of the world and the society, such as playing police officer, storekeeper, teacher, or nurse.
Solitary activity involving games begins as very small children participate in repetitive activities and progress to more complicated games that challenge their independent skills, such as puzzles, solitaire, and computer or video games.
Very young children participate in simple, imitative games such as pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo.
Preschool children learn and enjoy formal games, beginning with ritualistic, self-sustaining games, such as ring around the rosy and London Bridge.
With the exception of some simple board games, preschool children do not engage in competitive games.
Preschoolers hate to lose and try to cheat, want to change rules, or demand exceptions and opportunities to change their moves.
School-age children and adolescents enjoy competitive games, including cards, checkers, and chess, and physically active games, such as baseball.