Assessment of Cognitive and Language Abilities Through Play

Carol E. Westby

This article presents a symbolic-play language scale which describes l0 stages in the development of symbolic play abilities and relates the language concepts and structures associated with each developmental play stage. Use of this scale for evaluation and remediation planning is discussed.

Studies of language development during the 1970's have related certain cognitive attainments to certain features of language development (Sinclair, 1969; 1973; Macnamara, 1972; Bloom, 1973; Nelson, 1974; Leonard, 1974; 1978; Beilin, 1975; Moerk, 1975; Bates, 1976; Greenfield, 1978; Ingram, 1978). Although no one-to-one mapping of language onto cognition has been found, some cognitive abilities consistently precede or occur with certain communicative intentions and linguistic structures. Because of this interrelationship between cognition and language, the assessment of a child's language should include the assessment of cognitive level. Formal psychometric tests yield an estimate of some specific skills, but they do not assess all of the cognitive, representational, and thinking skills necessary for the use of language for communicative purposes. T h e majority o f language and visual-perceptual items on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, the McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities, and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R) might be acquired in stimulus-response training. A child from a stimulating home environment, a preschool, or special education program has had training on the tasks presented on these tests, and therefore, when presented with the test items, he/she may have success. The activities on these tests, however, are based on perception of the immediate context a n d generally do not require mental imagery or use of language for reasoning about perception. It is possible for children to obtain above a two year mental level on the Bayley or McCarthy Scales, yet exhibit little or no symbolic behavior which normally emerges by 18 months and is prerequisite for true language.
Carol Westby is a language specialist on the Prograrm"for Children Developmental Dis'abilities Team and an assistant pr~[essor for the Department of Communicative Dis'orders at the University ~?fNew Mexico, 2600 Marble Northeast, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131.

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cooking utensils. Lowe. miniature food. so must he/she also understand that a word is not the object but only a representation of the object. Nicolich. Symbolic play provides a means of assessing children's representational abilities and a consistent developmental sequence in symbolic skills has been documented by several investigators (Piaget. 1977. Sinclair. The sequence of play stages was the same for normal and handicapped children. windup toys. high chair. shopping cart. New Mexico. requires more abstraction than symbolic play because. Language and pretend play both require that a child mentally represent reality. rattles. telephone (intercom connected to telephone in house area). small table and chairs. Just as the child must realize that a doll is only a representation of a live baby. At that same time. talking toys (Mattell See 'n Say. 1962. 1975. Development of the Symbolic Play Scale The Symbolic Play Scale (Appendix A) evolved from a Piagetian based language program for severely retarded and trainable retarded children conducted in special education classes in East Greenbush. 1977). 1970. and telephone. New York during the 1976-1977 school year. push 'n go cars. on July 18. The household area included dolls. words do not resemble reality in any clear way. Liebergott and Swope. doll carriage. dress-up clothes. talking animals). doctor's kit. New York were observed in order to obtain information on play development in normal children. Chappell and Johnson. 3. unlike play. From June 1978 to May 1979 normal developmental ages were added to the play scale based upon observations of children at the Christian Child Care Center in Albuquerque.asha. 2. 1976. 1975. cleaning tools. vending machine. play money." musical toys. Westby. 1977. WESTBY: Language Abilities Through Play 155 Downloaded from lshss. Although symbolic skills are not sufficient for language development. doll bed. 2010 . Garvey. however. shoeshine kit.The major cognitive development during the preoperational period (18 months to 5-7 years) is the development of representational thought. Language. "busy boxes. and in play the symbolizers can be loosely linked together and do not require the structure of the rulegoverned grammatical relationships of spoken language. dresser. kitchenette with sink. and soft stuffed animals. 1970). or that a piece of paper can serve as a doll's blanket. Five groups of toys. they are essential prerequisites for meaningful communication (Sinclair. The infant stimulation area included pull toys. The store area included cash register. children at the Seton Day Care Centers in Troy. arranged in areas within a large room were available to the children: 1. Fein. refrigerator. stove.

however.asha. The handicapped children were observed twice a week. even those children functioning at a 5 year level are attracted to the infant and mechanical toys and will spend long periods of time exploring them. A separate form for each child was completed for every 5-8 minutes of the play session. and several Fisher-Price toys (village. quickly locates the part 156 Language. blocks. or if the child can be observed on several occasions. puppets. The child displays means-end abilities by locomoting to an object he/she desires or pulling a string to obtain the toy at the end of the string. barn). These "words" are not labels but are part o f the total activity and are uttered only as the activity is performed. riding toys. Some children use performative vocalizations at this stage (Greenfield and on July 18. 1975). 5. As one or two adults interacted with the children in the play situation. steps. Stage II. but will use a few objects appropriately. the examiner can then present toys for either earlier or later play stages. 1976). bean bag toss game. bowling set. The child vocalizes to request or command (Halliday. garage. Based upon how the child plays with these toys. Use of the Play Scale in Cognitive Language Assessment Administration o f the Bayley Scales of Infant Development or the McCarthy Scales o f Children's Abilities provides an estimated developmental age and shortens the time necessary to determine the child's play level. The 9-12 month old child is developing object permanence and will find a toy if it is covered by a scarf. The 13-17 month old child explores toys. The gross motor area included slide. an estimate of the child's developmental level enables the examiner to present first toys which would be expected to be appropriate for that level. When evaluation time is limited. Speech. walking board. Children were brought into the playrooms individually or in groups of up to four children and were permitted to freely explore and play with any o f the toys. two observers completed the forms. If several hours are available for observation. The child is developing different schemas for different toys and no longer immediately mouths or bangs all toys. Descriptions of the Symbolic-play Stages Stage I. airport. the child should be allowed to explore freely. doll house. The observation form in Appendix B was used to record the children's behavior. The session is tape recorded so that the language sample can be analyzed. and Hearing Services in Schools XI 154-168 July 1980 Downloaded from lshss. the day care children were observed once a week. 2010 . Tonka toys. If the children are allowed to choose from all the possible toys. The creative play area included sandbox. rubber animals.

1976). Stage III. No morphological endings occur on words in this stage. protest. 1976). The words have a variety o f functional and semantic roles (Brown. but the child should be re-evaluated in 3-6 months. Some children use single words at this stage.of the toy that is responsible for its operation (levers. The child plays house and WESTBY:Language AbilitiesThrough Play 157 Downloaded from lshss. he/she finds a toy hidden invisibly (as when it is placed in a box and the box is emptied under a scarf). By 17-19 months the child exhibits the beginning of representational abilities. establish interaction. By 24 months the child pretends at activities o f others. the child will feed the doll the bottle. The child attempts more purposeful communication and uses gestures and vocalizations to request. The child does not refer to absent situations. The child has consolidated sensorimotor concepts and possesses internalized action schemas which enable him/her to make reference to objects and people not on July 18. The child now uses word combinations having a variety of semantic relations. command.asha. switches. those who had not been using words for communication began to do so. 1976). Greenfield and Smith. and label (Dore. For example. 1978. Halliday. 1978). He/she exhibits tool-use (attains a toy with a stick). Specific language intervention is not warranted. Children who exhibit autosymbolic behavior but are not speaking may or may not be language delayed. brush the doll's hair. but these words are extremely context dependent and unstable (Bloom. By 19-22 months the child extends the symbolism beyond her/ himself to include other actors or receivers of actions. Stage V. Among the day care children followed in this project. A marked growth occurs in the number of words that a child uses (Corrigan. he/she frequently hands it to an adult and waits for the adult to operate the toy. 2010 . pulling. and attempts a variety o f motor schemas on it (pushing. my ball. turning. shaking). The child exhibits all sensorimotor stage VI behaviors. my baby"). 1973). 1975. Stage IV. strings. call attention to her/himself. He/she may pretend to go to sleep. If he/she is unable to operate the toy. which is critical for language development because language functions as a tool in attaining goals (Bates. buttons). The child engages in autosymbolic play. 1973. greet. to drink from a cup. and cover the doll with a blanket. or eat from a spoon. This handing a toy to an adult for operation is termed a protoimperative and indicates that the child understands that adults are agents who can act on objects (Bates. The symbolism is involved with the child's own body and the child's playful manner indicates that he/she is aware that he/she is pretending. pounding. At this time true verbal language begins. At times the possessive relation appears to predominate when children are in a group ("my truck. 1975). or he/she will brush his/her mother's hair or the hair of another child as well as his/her own hair and the doll's hair. The child re-presents (presents again) his daily experiences. Ingram. With respect to object permanence.

without providing much. cue that he/she is changing roles. sharing information. and wash the on July 18. The child is using short sentences that describe what he/she is doing. or putting food in a pan and stirring it. calls the ambulance. takes the patient to the hospital. it is not planned. where. Roles shift quickly and events are still short and isolated. what .asha. The pretend toys need to be realistic in appearance and close to life the mommy. This enables children to give appropriate syntactic and semantic responses to "who. the earlier past tense verbs were those which referred to a change of state and not to a past event. 1975). With a sequence of pretend events the child now has the cognitive basis for using past tense and future aspect. and Hearing Services in Schools XI 154-168 July 1980 Downloaded from lshss. The 3 year old child continues the pretend activities of Stages V and VI. but associative play appears. particularly those which are impressive or traumatic. bake it. 2010 . Speech. not miniatures such as a doll house. Stage VII. Sand and water play is limited to filling and dumping containers. True sequences of events are not present. broke. 1970). but does not necessarily listen to the response. or the doctor checks the patient. Ingram. and questioning. With most children this is the doctor-sick child relation. The child does not build representational structures and blocks are not integrated into pretend play. By 2½ years the child begins to represent events less frequently experienced or observed. "opened. although syntactic question forms may not be used (Halliday. Parallel play predominates. His/her communicative functions expand to include pretend. . At one moment the child is mommy and the next he/she is in another part of the room playing doctor. particularly in response to negative statements made by an adult ("don't touch that" or "you can't go outside"). 1978). Children at this stage can use language selectively to analyze perception (Blank. but the child does engage in some selflimited sequences such as putting food on a plate and then using a spoon to feed a doll. do" questions (Ervin-Tripp. 1975. "Where the bear is?" The child is likely to ask "why" questions. 1976). Although the child uses past tense before this time. The child is still dependent on realistic props. such as. daddy. if any. serve it. Block play is limited to stacking in order to knock down. . . "baby's sick") the child's answers to "why" questions are inappropriate (Blank." but not "walked. but now he/she relates several schemas to one another in a sequence. With the exception of well-known routines ("why is the doctor here?" . They are now asking questions and generally do so by placing the "wh" word at the beginning o f a sentence. or baby. and operates. such as. The child still requires realistic props. whose. The child pretends to mix a cake. 158 Language. Present progressive "ing" markers appear on verbs and plural and possessive word endings may also appear. Stage VI. . fell. T h e sequence evolves. what. ate" (Antinucci and Miller. 1978). Children who are in school or day care programs may portray teacher-child interactions.

?" For example." Without this cognitive realization. 'Jump lady. At approximately 4 years of age the child is able to hypothesize about future events and problem-solve events he/she has not experienced. Playmobile characters. barns. Gleitman. Stage IX. 1973).The children engage in more associative play with each other. but rather only with respect to themselves (Carey and Considine. He did not appear to recognize that the truck was "too big. but the doll hid from the doctor under a blanket. For example. and Shapley. he/she rejected items which WESTBV:Language Abilities Through Play 159 Downloaded from lshss. Thus. and airport (3-3V2 years). for example. such as.' " The frequency of mother-baby play decreases and the child plays with the doll as he/she would a real friend. The child must be able to take context into account when considering the attributes. the child took the doll to the doctor. Stage VIII. Shortly after the appearance o f sequence in pretend play. one child picked up a foot long wooden truck and repeatedly attempted to make it fit on the ramp of the Fisher-Price garage which was designed for cars no larger than 2" by 3". Blocks are now used for building enclosures to serve as houses. In the process of looking for a suitable roof. a child had built an enclosure for circus animals and wanted a roof for his/her building. The doll is given a personality and participates in the play.asha. Ability to play with less realistic toys requires that the child recognize the similarities and differences in the real and pretend on July 18. The child will use one object to represent another (a row of chairs becomes a bus). items are big or little only with respect to the context. barn. Compensatory play was not observed in the handicapped children even at more advanced play stages. the child must be able to abstract the essential attributes of an object. they re-enacted previous events. but do not yet exhibit full cooperative play. . For example. . That is. and Fisher-Price toys such as the village. The normal children in the day care centers began to exhibit compensatory play combinations in this stage. or fences. 2010 . Associated with the child's ability to play with less realistic toys is the child's ability to take another person's perspective and the metalinguistic ability to think about language and comment on it (Gleitman. "The firemen are going to tell the lady to jump. In order to determine what can be substituted for the real object. Such hypothesizing requires reference to two future events as in "what would h a p p e n / f . but with new outcomes--outcomes that appeared to be what the child would have liked to have done in the situation. the child is able to give dialogue to the toys. 1972). the child begins to carry out play with less realistic toys such as doll houses. there is no basis for comprehension or meaningful use of size terms in a comparative sense. Up to this stage the child's play has involved representations of events that he/she has experienced or observed. A marked growth in descriptive vocabulary now occurs as the child becomes aware of perceptual attributes. Children under the age of three do not use qualitative and size terms in a relative comparative sense.

Full competence will not be achieved until 10-12 years of age. . . Doll and puppet play becomes more elaborate as the child uses the dolls and puppets to act out entire scenes o f "what would happen if. after." This is in accord with reports that children begin to reason about perception and use hypothetical statements at four years of age (Blank.asha. and hypotheses by using modals such as "can. The child is no longer dependent on realistic props and is able to rely on his/her imagination to set the scenes. 2010 . and the daddy will go to the store. future events. The ability to hypothesize future events enables the child to plan out pretend situations in advance. if. or too heavy without engaging in a trial and error approach o f trying pieces on the structure. this w o n ' t . 160 Language. Children can be almost nonverbal and yet exhibit play behavior through Stage IX. while. ." and conjunctions such as "and. At age five he/she can organize what he/she will require---other children as well as objects. . t h e n . might. handed the objects down to another child. The child's expression suggested that he/she realized that pulling on the blanket would cause the objects to fall on him/her. He/she grabbed the blanket. but. This is only the beginning use o f such modals and conjunctions and does not indicate that the child has full competence with these linguistic concepts. too small. or at the beginning o f the formal operational period (Beilin. then looked up to the top o f the piano where several objects were holding it in place. Stage X play behavior. next. For example. requires language (either sign or spoken) for the child to effectively organize the situation. when. so. if I do t h i s . The child now builds elaborate three-dimensional block structures and centers his/her pretend play around the structures. will. The ability to plan coordinated sequences of pretend events forms a cognitive basis for use of relative and subordinate clauses to relate two or more propositions to each other. Thus. would. The child makes use of time relational terms such as "then. . this is big enough. too flimsy. may. Cromer. but it's too heavy. 1975)." The child begins to verbalize such intentions. . 1975). The child dropped the corner o f the blanket. however. because. . and Hearing Services in Schools XI 154-168 July 1980 Downloaded from lshss. before. Such behavior appears to indicate that the children were conceptualizing ideas that could best be verbalized as "this c o u l d . 1978. a child announces that she will be the mother and while she is cooking dinner. climbed to the top o f the piano. and then proceeded to pull the blanket off. the children will set the table." As with the modals and conjunctions o f Stage IX. first. this w o u l d . Speech. the child can plan his/her role and what other children in the play situation will be doing at the same time.were too large. the child will be almost 12 years old before she/he develops full competence with such terms (Beilin. Another child reached to pull o f f a blanket that was covering a piano." Stage X. He/she is also able to coordinate more than one event occurring at a time. on July 18. . 1974). Full cooperative play occurs at this stage.

org on July 18. Procedures for training sensorimotor prerequisites for language and using play experiences as a way o f developing general symbolic skills have been reported (Bricker and Bricker. semantic concepts. WESTBY: Language Abilities Through Play 161 Downloaded from lshss. structured language lessons should not be the primary focus of remediation. rather than facilitate. progress (Nelson. The pathologist should begin at the child's language level. 1974. and (2) if language remediation is indicated. the speech-language clinician has two options. a child's cognitive play level is in advance o f her/his language level. determining what communicative functions. inappropriate ways. and then give formal training on those concepts and structures that the child has shown she/he needs. It is unlikely that speech-language remediation would result in significant changes in the child's communication abilities. 1972). A few autistic and hydrocephalic children have exhibited syntactic structures which were above what would be expected considering their play level. however. the pathologist should observe the child in an interactive play setting and model the structures that the child needs for communicating. 1978).Interpretation of the Symbolic-play Assessment The symbolic play assessment serves two purposes: (1) determining if a child should be given priority for receiving language remediation. and syntactic structures should be taught. Directive adult-led teaching has been shown actually to retard. A cognitively based orientation to language acquisition implies that language training can never do more than assist the child in expressing what she/he already understands (Leonard. 2010 . (2) If the pathologist does choose to work with the child. If. 1973). however. Instead of first teaching semantic concepts and syntactic structures to criterion levels in formal remediation sessions. or if her/his cognitive level is at Stage II or below. use both structured remediation sessions and play sessions to develop the necessary language skills. remediation should provide experiences to facilitate development o f the cognitive sensorimotor or preoperational symbolic abilities rather than emphasizing language skills. following a developmental sequence. (1) She/he can choose not to see the child and assume that the child's present environment is providing language stimulation that is appropriate and sufficient for the child's cognitive level. Even with truly language delayed children. It is uncertain if it is possible to influence what the child understands. If the symbolic play assessment indicates that a child's language level is commensurate with her/his cognitive level. additional speech-language remediation is warranted.asha. and. but much of their language was echolalic or used in stereotyped. In no evaluation has a child's meaningful use of language been above his/her cognitive play level. Morehead.

In J. Aaronson and R. F. The emergence of the child as grammarian.. Harmondsworth. Hayes (Ed.J. W. Schools. Cognition and the Development of Language. R... Mass. and MILLER. G. and Christian Child Care Center and the many graduate students who have assisted in the project. Lloyd (Eds. Middlesex. and SnWLEY. BLANK. The development of language and cognition: The cognition hypothesis. "]':. L. One Word at a Time. In B.. References ANTINUCCI. BROWN. The domain of comparative adjectives. L.. S. A Firs't Language: The Early Stages.: University Park Press.. Psychol. R. H. CROMER. l. Cognition. New York: Academic Press (1975). 2010 .J. G. L. Speech. C.Summary Decisions regarding linguistic concepts and structures taught to language delayed children are sometimes based on a developmental sequence. R. New York: Grune & Stratton (1978). Schiefelbusch and L. 1 l. CORRmAN. M. E. R. R. 292-296 (1975). In D.: Harvard University tS-ess (1977). Speech Hearing Serv. BLooM. Cambridge.). Retardation and Intervention. In R. R.. 137-163 (1972). MIT (1973). Foss (Ed. GLEITMAN. and at other times upon what the teacher believes would be most useful for the child to learn. FEIN.. BATES. and CONSIDINE. E. Unpublished working paper. Md. ROSE... and JOHNSON. DORE. ERVIN-TRIPP. Evaluation of cognitive behavior in the young nonverbal child. L. 21-40 (1975). and BERLIN. 17-27 (1976). Mass. J. Although semantic concepts and syntactic structures can be trained in a stimulus-response program. and BRmKER. Rieber (Eds. she/he will not use them in actual interpersonal situations. Lang. Language development as related to stage 6 object permanence development. 431-468 (1974). Child Lang. unless the child possesses the cognitive prerequisites for the linguistic structures she/he is learning. speech acts.. S. H. Cambridge. A. A transformational analysis of pretending... S. Acknowledgment The original project was made possible by a Title VI mini-grant. W.. Dev. Discourse agreement: How children answer questions.). Developmental Psycholinguistics and Communication Disorders.. Language and Context: The Acquisition of Pragmatics. New York: Academic Press (1976). New Perspectives in Child Development.. 162 Language. New York: Academic Press. Language Perspectives-Acquisition. J. 5. The Hague: Mouton (1973). A. 173-190 (1978). How children talk about what happened. J. L.). BLANK. Mastering the intangible through language.asha.). E. GLEITMAN. Seton Day Care Centers. Holophrases. New York: New York Academy of Sciences.. 167189 (1976)... D. 44-58 (1975). GARVEY. Play. The Language of Learning: The Preschool Years. 70-107 (1970). and Hearing Services in Schools XI 154-168 July 1980 Downloaded from lshss. An early language training strategy.. Child Lang. Studies in the Cognitive Basis of Language Development. CHAePELL.: Harvard University Press (1973). BRmKER. BmLm. M. 2. and language universals. G. England: Penguin Books (1974). F. Child Lang. on July 18. 3. CAREY. Baltimore. The author wishes to thank the teachers at Red Mill School. Assessment of a child's language skills with respect to her/his symbolic play skills provides a basis for determining the language skills that should be taught.

J. Merrill.asha. A. In T.).. Gesture and Symbol: The Emergence of Language. 415-445 (1978).. Structure and strategy in learning to talk.E. Withrow and C. SINCLAIR. B. Monogr. K. Developmental psycholinguistics. Waterson and C. Acta Symbolica. Snow (Eds. (1977). E.M. P. Action. (1977) and poster session presented at the annual Convention of the American Speech and Hearing Association. Early grammatical and semantic relations: Some implications for a general representational deficit in linguistically deviant children.J.J. Bases of Language Intervention. 1-12 (1972). 79. D. 21. L. Nygren (Eds. LXEBEROOa"r. 67-99 (1974). and SwoPE. Concept. 16... M. Psychol. From reflex to remark. Cognitive factors in early language development. Soc. In R. M. Papers Reports Child Lang. 1979 Accepted October 8.. NICOLICH. Rev. INGP. In A.. 38 (1973). 1-13 (1972). 52-63 (1976). 23. New York: Norton (1962). Play as a base for language acquisition. 315-336 (1969). D. H. SINCLAIR. Psychol. Language. C. 119-125 (1970). AM...ET. 9-63 (1973). Rochester. K. Received May 29.. Materials... 4. Structural parallels between language and action in development.).org on July 18.. 89-99 (1977).Chicago. Language acquisition and cognitive development. L.151-170 (1975). LEONARD.J. Seminar presented at the New York Speech and Hearing Convention. NELSON. New York: Academic Press. OH: Charles E. Language training through cognitive assessment. Child Psychol. 2010 .). Child Dev. Trends in the development of representational play in infants from one to three years: an observational study. MO~HEAn. Md.). In D. 1. Lock (Ed. word.. LEONARD. New York: Academic Press (1976).: University Park Press. Dev. The transition from sensory-motor behavior to symbolic activity. 5. WESTB'¢. 67-96 (1978). Piaget's research applied to the explanation of language development. 379-389 (1978). HALLmAY. and Curriculum Management for the Handicapped Learner. Dreams and Imitation. M. K.. Cognitive Development and the Acquisition of Language.. Merrill-Palmer Quart. GP~ENrIELD. and sentence: Interrelations in acquisition and development.. Merrill-Palmer Quart. Beyond sensorimotor intelligence: assessment of symbolic maturity through analysis of pretend play. Rev. 81. London. England: Edward Arnold (1975). Interchange.GREENFIELD.). H. Columbus.. 33-48 (1975). Schiefelbusch (Ed. The Structure of Communication in Early Language...H. Elkind and J.. N. Language development during the sensorimotor period. M. Flavell (Eds.. S. In N. New York: Oxford University Press. Moore (Ed.). In F. New York: Academic Press..Y. P. 1979 WESTBY:Language Abilities Through Play 163 Downloaded from lshss. MACNAMARA. Ill.. New York: John Wiley. Cognitive basis of learning in infants. Learning How to Mean: Explorations in the Development of Language. L. LOWE..267-285 (1974). SINCLAIR. Play. J. Res.. J. PIA¢.. NELSON. Studies in Cognitive Development. MORRIS. and SMXTH. Baltimore. The Development of Communication. L.

pulls string toys Does not m o u t h or b a n g all toys .crawls or walks to get what he wants. and Hearing Services in Schools XI 154-168 July 1980 Downloaded from lshss. child may use the word "car" when riding in a car.some used appropriately Stage II .org on July 18.19 to 22 m o n t h s Symbolic play extends beyond the child's self: Plays with dolls. feeds doll a bottle. Speech. child p r e t e n d s to go to sleep or pretends to drink from cup or eat from spoon _ _ Uses most c o m m o n objects a n d toys appropriately _ _ Tool-use (uses stick to reach toy) Finds toys invisibly h i d d e n (when placed in box and box e m p t i e d u n d e r scarf) Beginning o f true verbal communication. but not when he sees a car. brushes doll's hair.9 to 12 m o n t h s Awareness that objects exist w h e n not seen: finds toy h i d d e n u n d e r scarf Means-end behavior . may have p e r f o r m a tive words.17 to 19 m o n t h s __Autosymbolic play. o r covers doll with blanket Child p e r f o r m s p r e t e n d activities on m o r e than one person or object.asha. for example. 2010 . Words have following functional and semantic relations: __ _ _ __ __ Recurrence Existence Nonexistence Rejection Denial __ __ __ Agent Object Action or state Location Object or person associated with object or location Stage IV . feeds self. a doll. puts spoon in pan o r pours from pot into cup __ Refers to objects a n d persons not present Beginning o f word combinations with following semantic relations _ _ Agent-action Action-locative Action-object Object-locative _ _ Agent-object Possessive _ _ Attributive _ _ Dative 164 Language. words tend to come and go in child's vocabulary _ Language i __ No true language. discovers operation o f toys t h r o u g h trial and error: uses variety o f motoric schemas Hands toy to adult if unable to operate Context d e p e n d e n t sir~gle words.13 to 17 m o n t h s Purposeful exploration o f toys. for example. (words that are associated with actions o r the total situation) Exhibits following communicative functions: _ _ Request (instrumental) C o m m a n d (regulatory) Exhibits following communicative functions: _ Request _ _ Protesting __ Command _ _ Label _ _ Interactional _ _ Response _ _ Personal Greeting Stage III . for example. and a n o t h e r child Combines two toys in p r e t e n d play.A p p e n d i x A Symbolic Play Scale Check List Play Stage I . mother. for example.

re-enactment o f e x p e r i e n c e d events with new outcomes Associative play _ _ _ _ Uses past tense. such as. plays house . such as. but often inappropriate and does not attend to answer Uses earlier pragmatic functions and semantic relations in phrases and short sentences T h e following morphological markers appear: _ _ Present progressive (ing) o n verbs _ _ Plurals _ _ Possessives Language Stage VII . . objects used are realistic and close to life size __Events short and isolated. such as. daddy. for example. C o m p e n s a t o r y toy . or doctor checks patient. and d u m p i n g Stage VI . I walked. washes the dishes. . "I ate the cake ." _ _ Asks why. particularly impressive or traumatic events __ Doctor-nurse-sick child Teacher-child Store-shopping Events still short and isolated• Realistic p r o p s still required• Roles shift quickly. . . . . " I ' m g o n n a wash dishes. takes patient to hospital and on July 18. . stirs. calls ambulance. R e s p o n d s appropriately to the following W H questions in context: What __ Who _ _ Whose __ Where _ _ W h a t . .24 m o n t h s Represents daily experiences." WESTBY: Language Abilities Through Play 165 Downloaded from lshss. no true sequences. some self-limiting sequences puts food in pan.generally puts W H at b e g i n n i n g o f sentence Responses to why questions inappropriate except for well-known routines.A p p e n d i x A (cont) Symbolic Play Scale Check List Play Stage V . serves it. pouring. .is the m o m m y . or baby. "Baby sick. Sequence evolves • . and eats __Block play consists o f stacking and knocking down _ _ Sand a n d water play consist o f filling.3 years _ _ Continues p r e t e n d activities o f Stages V a n d VI.2Y2 years Represents events less frequently experienced o r observed." Uses future aspect (particularly "gonna") forms. 2010 .asha. do Asks W H questions . not planned. bakes it. but now the play has a sequence• Events are not isolated. child mixes cake. "Why is the doctor here?" .

Full cooperative play _ _ __ Uses relational terms (then. "Mommy lets me have cookies for breakfast. because) Note: Full competence for these modals and conjunctions does not develop until 10-12 years of age Begins to respond appropriately to why and how questions that require reasoning about perception Stage X . Uses doll or puppet as participant in play Descriptive vocabulary expands as child becomes more aware of perceptual attributes. Uses terms for the following concepts (not always correctly): shapes sizes Colors __ texture spatial relationships Gives dialogue to puppets and dolls Metalinguistic language use. before. such as. village). " Uses indirect requests. last. Verbalizes events: intentions and possible future _ _ Uses modals (can. airport. so." Changes speech depending on listener Stage IX .3 to 3½ Language _ _ C a r r i e s out play activities of previous stages with a doll house and Fisher-Price toys (barn. such on July 18.Appendix A (cont) Symbolic Play Scale Check List Play Stage VIII . next. if. will. Child uses one object to represent another. " Uses dolls and puppets to act out scenes Builds 3-dimensional structures with blocks which are attempts at reproducing specific structures child has seen. and Hearing Services in Schools XI 154-168 July 1980 Downloaded from lshss. . while. 2010 . Sets the scene without realistic props. first. "He said . after) Note: Full competence does not develop until 10-12 years of age 166 Language. . would. Hypothesizes "what would h a p p e n i f . but. Organizes what he needs . garage.5 years Plans a sequence of pretend events. Coordinates more than one event occurring at a time Highly imaginative. might. _ _ Uses blocks and sandbox for imaginative play. Blocks used primarily as enclosures (fences and houses) for animals and dolls Play not totally stimulus bound.both objects and other children. may. Plans ahead. . . could) Uses conjunctions (and.3½ to 4 years _ _ _ _ Begins to problem-solve events not experienced. when.asha. Speech.

2010 on July 18. ~9 WESTBY:Language Abilities Through Play 167 Downloaded from lshss.Appendix B Observation Form Onlooking 09 Solitary Parallel Associative Cooperative E =.

. . . strings beads. . T h e observers using the forms record a description of the child's behavior within the appropriate box on the form.. T h e child's play is of a companionable nature with similar materials. talking toys. and materials. etc. and is of relatively long duration and complexity. but does not participate... fills and empties containers.T h e child engages in gross motor activities such as running..T h e child engages in rule-governed game behavior and exhibits some understanding or appreciation of the rules. Symbolic Imitauve Symbolic Spontaneous Game Onlooking Solitary Parallel Associative Cooperative riding on bikes or wagons. the behaviors are sequentially numbered.T h e child engages in pretend play.asha.. 2010 . but with no personal interaction. stacks blocks and knocks them down. and Hearing Servicesin Schools XI 154-168 July 1980 Downloaded from on July 18. but it is initiated and guided by another child or an adult. "busy" boxes. . common goals. . operates cause-effect toys such as music boxes. Child works puzzles. 168 Language.T h e play includes different roles. climbing.T h e children's play is loosely organized around a common activity. If a child engages in several different behaviors during a recording time.T h e child observes.. usually with one or two leaders.Speech.Appendix C Definition of play behaviorsfor the observationform Practice . . shared interests. . throwing balls.T h e child plays without reference to other children.T h e child initiates the pretend activity.

org on July 18. 2010 This Downloaded from lshss.Assessment of Cognitive and Language Abilities Through Play Carol E.asha. along with updated information and otherarticles This information is current as of July 18.11. Westby Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch 1980. 2010 .154-168 This article has been cited by 8 HighWire-hosted article(s) which you can access for free at: http://lshss. is located on the World Wide Web at: http://lshss.asha.