Play Types

There are 16 different play types developed by Bob Hughes for the purpose of adults who study and facilitate play.

Play which allows control, gradual exploration and increased understanding, without the risk of being out of one’s depth. For example using a piece of wood o symbolise a person, or a piece of string to symbolise a wedding ring. More examples: Objects used to represent something else i.e. using a rope to represent an area of water, using a physical object to create a symbolic representation.

Close encounter play which is less to do with fighting and more to do with touching, tickling, gauging relative strength, discovering physical flexibility and the exhilaration of display. For example playful fighting, wrestling and chasing where the children involved are obviously unhurt and giving every indication that they are enjoying themselves.
More examples: Children engaging in physical contact games, e.g. pile-on, testing of one’s strength, flexibility, and movement.

Accordion Co

The enactment of real and potential experiences of an intense personal, social, domestic or interpersonal nature. For example playing at house, going to the shops, being mothers and fathers, organising a meal or even have a row.
More examples: Playing out scenes from one’s own life, children re-enacting social experiences to understand or gain control.

Play during which the rules and criteria for social engagement and interaction can be revealed, explored and amended. For example, any social or interactive situation which contains an expectation on all parties that they will abide by the rules or protocols, i.e. games, conversations, making something together.
More examples: Board games, conversations, locomotor games, going out on trips, parachute games.

Play which allows a new response, the transformation of information, awareness of new connections, with an element of surprise. For example enjoying creation with a range of materials and tools for its own sake.
More examples: Children being creative, freedom to explore a tool with no end result, self-expression through any medium.

Play using words, nuances or gestures for example mime, jokes, play acting, mickey taking, singing, debate, poetry.
More examples: Use of words, facial expressions, imitations, even graffiti are all means children use to extend and use their communication skills.

Play which dramatizes events in which the child is not a direct participator. For example presentation of a TV show, an event on the street, a religious or festive event, even a funeral.
More examples: Children making plays, miming a song or dance routine.

Play which allows the child to encounter risky or even potentially life threatening experiences, to develop survival skills and conquer fear. For example leaping onto an aerial runway, riding a bike on a parapet, balancing on a high beam.
More examples: Children engaging in activities with a real element of risk or danger (to them, being individual to each child) .i.e. children using apparatus in ways they were not intended for. This can be physical risk or emotional risk; both require the development of resilience. Conquer fear!

(We would just like to say that although we do encourage play with risk we will never let your child/ren put themselves in a ‘life-threatening’ situation to test their resilience!, not on our watch!)

Play to access factual information consisting of manipulative behaviours such as handling, throwing, banging or mouthing objects. For example engaging with an object or area and, either by manipulation or movement, assessing its properties, possibilities and content, such as stacking bricks.
More examples: trying out things for themselves, what things are, what things do, new experiences.

Play, which rearranges the world in the child’s way, a way which is unlikely to occur. For example playing as being a pilot flying around the world or the owner of an expensive car.
More examples: Children using imagination to make up unreal things, i.e. dressing up as a super-hero, princess. Casting spells and performing magic.

Play where the conventional rules, which govern the physical world, do not apply. For example imagining you are, or pretending to be, a tree or ship, or patting a dog which isn’t there.
More examples: putting on makeup or face paint, dressing up.

Movement in any and every direction for its own sake. For example chase, tag, hide and seek, tree climbing.
More examples: gymnastics, jumping, swinging, riding a bike, skateboards, roller skating, leaping, ball games.

Control of the physical and affective ingredients of the environments. For example digging holes, changing the course of streams, constructing shelters, building fires.
More examples: Fire play, building dens, mastering the natural environment.

Play which uses infinite and interesting sequences of hand-eye manipulations and movements. For example examination and novel use of any object e.g. cloth, paintbrush, cup.
More examples: Playing with a ball, Rubik’s cube, PSP, mobile phone, hand held devices etc. new/wider understanding of the possibilities of everyday objects. Finding out what an object will do.

Play exploring ways of being, although not normally of an intense personal, social, domestic or interpersonal nature. For example brushing with a broom, dialling with a telephone, driving a car.
More examples: When a child re-enacts something that they have seen, heard, read about, or experienced. Trying a new role, like being an old woman.

Play which rehearses skills for survival – not only for individual survival but also the survival of the human race.
More examples: Children lighting and using fires, children engaging in rituals, children dressing up in historic clothes and uniforms, children playing wars and using weapons.

As Playworker’s we need to try and ensure that children and young people in our setting have the support, materials and resources to enable them to have the best opportunity to engage in the play types if they choose to