Three Stages of Play


On Friday, March 26th I watched a videotape of five children playing in Room 211 some 16 days earlier. Those children were Nicole (7), Kyle (5), Teagan (3), Ryan (10 mo.), and Trenton (5 mo.). According to Freud and Erikson’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Play, children use play to work out unconscious wishes and desires, cope with the real world, and play out wishful fantasies. From the tape I would guess that Nicole displayed this behavior the best; she showed an unconscious desire for responsibility when she played teacher, wrote on the board, and held up paper in front of the class as if instructing them. Since Nicole is at an age where school plays a large role in development, it makes sense that she would be interested in taking on the role of a teacher.


Jean Piaget formed Three Stages of Play, which were Practice or Functional Play (Sensorimotor), Symbolic Play (Preoperational), and Games with Rules (Concrete Operational). Kyle play with memory cards in the Concrete Operational stage. He was able to follow the rules of the game, although he lost interest quickly. Trenton repeatedly displayed behavior belonging to the first stage of play, Sensorimotor. He would often put toys in his mouth to explore them, and he would also use his hands to feel out the toy’s shape. Just as often he would bounce or throw the toys, experimenting with what would happen. As previously mentioned, Nicole played the role of a teacher in Symbolic/Preoperational play by creating the pretend situation that she was a classroom instructor.