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COGNITIVE PLAY PIAGETS STAGES OF PLAY Cognitive play reflects childrens ages, conceptual understandings, and experiential backgrounds. The ideas of Piaget (1962) describe the following cognitive stages of play: a) functional play b) symbolic play c) playing games with rules d) constructive play Functional Play Functional play, the only play that occurs during the sensorimotor period, is based on and occurs in response to muscular activities and the need to be active. Functional play is characterizes by repetitions, manipulations, and self-imitation. This is an activity that is done simply for the enjoyment of the physical sensation it creates. Generally speaking, the child engages in simple motor activities (e.g. repetitive motor movements with or without objects). Specific examples are climbing on gym equipment; pouring water from one container to another; jumping on and off a chair; making faces; singing or dancing for non-dramatic reasons; ringing bells and buzzers, etc.

Piaget described functional play (which he also called practice play and exercise play) this way: The child sooner or later (often even during the learning period) grasps for the pleasure of grasping, swings [a suspended object] for the sake of swinging. etc. In a word, he repeats his behavior not in any further effort to learn or to investigate, but for the mere joy or mastering it and showing off to himself his own power of subduing reality.

Functional play allows children to practice and learn physical capabilities while exploring their immediate environments. very young children are especially fond of repeating movements for the pleasure of it. They engage in sensory impressions for the joy of experiencing the functioning of their bodies. Repetition of language also is common at this level.

Symbolic Play The second stage is symbolic play, which Piaget also referred to as the lets pretend stage of play. During this stage, children freely display their creative and physical abilities and social awareness in a number of ways, for example, by pretending to be something else, such as animal. Symbolic play also occurs when children pretend that one object is another (that a building block is a car) and may also entail pretending to be another person (a mummy, daddy or caregiver). As toddlers and preschoolers grow older, their symbolic play becomes more elaborate and involved. Play Games with Rules This third stage of play begins around age of seven or eight. During this stage, children learn to play within rules and limits and adjust their behavior accordingly, and can make and follow social agreements. Games with rules are very comfortable in middle childhood and adulthood. For this type of play, the child accepts prearranged rules, adjusts to them and controls his/her actions and reactions within the given limits. The child and/or his/her playmates prior to the onset of the game may have decided to these rules. There must be an element of competition either between the focal child and other children, or with him/herself. As an example, two children who are taking turns bouncing a ball against a wall are not necessarily engaging in a game-with-rules activity even if they have decided that dropping the ball constitutes the end of a turn. However, if these children are counting the number of bounces successfully completed before the ball is dropped and are trying to beat the other childs previous score, then they are playing a gamewith-rules.

Constructive Play The definition of constructive play is the manipulation of objects for the purpose of constructing or creating something. This is Piagets fourth stage that develops from symbolic play and represents childrens adaptations to problems and their creative acts. Constructive play is characterized by children engaging in play activities in order to construct their knowledge of the world. They first manipulate play materials and then use these materials to create and build things (a sand castle, a block building, a grocery store) and experiment with the ways things go together.

This type is quite similar to functional play. The one major distinction between functional and constructive activity is the childs goal during play. For example, pounding on playdough for the sensory experience of the pounding is considered to be functional play. However, pounding for the purpose of making a pancake is coded as constructive. Similarly, pouring water in and out of containers is a functional activity. Yet, pouring water into a series of containers for the purpose of filling each container to the same level is a constructive play behavior. Additionally, construction may manifest itself as teaching another how to do something. This differs from exploration because the child already knows how to perform the task. For example, the target child shows another child how the elevator on an action figure activity set raises and lowers.

Summary of Cognitive Play TYPE Functional play (practice play) CHARACTERISTIC Uses repetitive muscle movement, with or without objects (e.g., running, filling,

hammering) Symbolic Play (pretend play) Uses imagination and role play to

transform the self and objectives and to satisfy needs. Pretend to take care for a sick animal (role play). Pretends to take a shower (arm movements).

Play Games with Rules






predetermined rules that are goal-oriented Constructive Play manipulates objects or materials (e.g., blocks, wood, collage) to make something.

SOCIAL PLAY Social play, the ability of children to interact with their peers, also develops in agerelated stages. This kind of play often develops rapidly during the preschool years. Mildred Parten (1932) have focused attention on the social aspects of play during early childhood. Parten developed the most comprehensive description and classification of the types of childrens social play: Unoccupied play

This type of play occurs when the child does not play with anything or anyone; the child merely stands or sits, without doing anything observable. They are not engaged in play and do not seem to have a goal. Plays with body, gets on and off chairs, walks about aimlessly, glances around the room. Generally, there are two types of unoccupied behaviors. Firstly, the child is staring blankly into space and the second type when the child is wandering with no specific purpose, only slightly interested, if at all, in ongoing activities. If the child is engaging in a functional activity like twisting hair or fiddling with an object, but is not attending to the activity, then the child is coded as being unoccupied. If it is judged that the childs mind is on the functional activity, the behavior would be coded as functional.

Similarly, a child may be surveying the playroom. At first glance, it may look as thought the child is unoccupied. However the child may actually be visually exploring his or her environment. It is important to distinguish between truly without focus, and actually looking at something such as a poster, a camera and others which would represent exploratory behavior.

Solitary play

The child plays independently and not involved with other children. Playing with own toys is the primary goal. Most typical of 2 and 3 years old child. Other children use solitary play for needed privacy and for elaborate individual dramatic play.

Besides, the child plays apart from other children at a distance greater than three feet (one meter). She is usually playing with toys that are different from those other children are using. The child is centered on her own activity and pays little or no attention to any children in the area. If the child is playing in a small area the three-foot rule is often not applicable. In such cases the observer must rely upon the relative attentiveness of the child to others in her social environment.

Onlooker Behavior Onlooker behavior is play by observing, asks question, and talks to other children but does not enter to play itself. The children also stand within speaking distance to see and hear. They may use onlooker behavior to decide when to enter an ongoing play group or to choose an activity. More active interest and involvement than unoccupied behavior. When on looking, the child watches the activities of others but does not enter into an activity. She or he may also offer comments, or laugh with the other children, but does not become involved in the actual activity.

Parallel Play The children play alongside or nearby, but not with others. Means the child plays independently, but the activity often, though not necessarily, brings him/her within three feet of other children. They use shared toys but plays independently. Besides, they do not share toys. This may occur within typical of young preschool children. They often considered the beginnings of group play.

The child usually seems to be somewhat aware of, and attentive to, his/her playmates, and frequently engages in parallel speech i.e., verbalizing his/her own thoughts for the benefit of the other children. In short, the child plays beside, or in the company of, other children but does not play with his or her companions.

Associative Play Children interact with each other, perhaps by asking questions or sharing materials, but do not play together.

Cooperative Play Children actively play together; often as a result of organization of the teacher (the least frequently witnessed play in preschools).