Play is many things to many people. For most of us, it is a self-selected, self-directed activity that children carry out for pleasure. In fact, many leaders in our field, such as David Elkind, Vivian Paley, and Lilian Katz have referred to play as “children’s work” because it provides rich opportunities to learn concepts such as cause and effect (“If you hit a tower of blocks, it will fall down.”) and time relationships (“I will play dress-up with you after lunch, at choice time.”). It also helps children gain understandings of how the world works (“Some things float and some things sink.”), how to get along with others (“If you take Billy’s truck, he will scream at you.”), how to entertain one’s self (“Fingerpaint feels awesome between your toes!”), and how to solve problems (“Fingerpaint is really hard to get off your toes.”).
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