Timeline of Play

Epoch   Age   Description Space Management Material Management Imitation Participation
Sensorimotor 0-2 Automatic style play with sensory integration & motion in first 18 months -Peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake, hide & seek -Imitation with caregivers -Exploration of objects -Simple problem solving -Reaches, plays with hands -Crawls -Sit with balance -Sits down -Bends and recovers balance -Climbs low objects -Handles/mouths toys and brings objects together -Throws, inserts, pushes, pulls, carries, pounds. -Observed facial expressions and physical movement -Simple actions -Present events and adults -Solitary play (no effort to interact with other children) -Onlooker play (watches others-speaking but not entering their play)
Symbolic and Simple-Constructive 2-4 Make believe and pretend play; experiences represented in play -Shift from solitary play to parallel -Builds simple constructions that represent another object or situation Beginning integration of entire body in activities -Complex movements (throwing, jumping, climbing) -More coordinated body movements -Manipulation predominates -Feels, pats, dumps, squeezes -Scribbles, string beads, 4-5 piece puzzles -Small muscle activity (hammers, sorts, insert small objects) -Of adult routines with toy related mimicry (child feeding doll) -More complex imitation of real world (familiar roles, domestic themes) -Parallel play (play besides others) -Snatch and grab, hoarding, no sharing -Associative play (similar activity with groups of 2 or 3) -Some turn taking
Dramatic, Complex, Constructive, and Pregame 4-7 Expansion of social participation; Shift from parallel to associative play; dramatic role play enacting child’s experiences, social roles, fairy tales, and myths. Construction is realistic, complex. Daredevil activities involving strength and skill outside. Can concentrate on goal instead of movement. -Ease of gross motor movements -More sedate; good muscle control and balance -Hops on one foot, skips, somersaults -Plans and enjoys excursions and trips Increase fine motor control allows quick movements, force, pulling -Builds complex structures; 10 piece puzzles -Uses tools to make things; copies; traces More complex imitation of real world -Able to use familiar knowledge to construct novel situation (expand on theme of story or TV show) Cooperative (groups of 2-5 organized to achieve goal, more complex games and dramatic play)
Game 7-12 Games with rules: masters established rules and makes up new ones; risk taking in games; concern with peer status, friendship groups importance; interests in sports and formal groups (e.g., scouts). Interest in how things work, nature, crafts. N/A N/A N/A N/A
Recreational 12-16 Formal peer group orientation: Team work and cooperation; respect for rules; games that challenge skills; competitive sports; realistic constructive projects N/A N/A N/A N/A