What are some properties of Play?
apparent purposelessness (done for its own sake)
inherent attraction
freedom from time
diminished consciousness of self
improvisational potential
continuation desire

(Play by Stuart Brown)

What are some characteristics of a good learner?
curious, enjoys exploring and investigating
enjoys experimentation
skeptical and willing to ask why
willing to take risks and make mistakes
open-minded about different perspectives
imaginative and creative, yet still disciplined and
rigorous in their thinking
sociable; able to give and take suggestions, advice
reflective and able to do metacognition

(What’s the Point of School? by Guy Claxton)

Which are your play personalities? How might you use your play personalities to learn better?

The Joker

you like entertaining others with magic tricks, weird trivia, practical jokes, absurd situations, etc.

The Kinesthete

you like to move, whether by dancing, skateboarding, yoga, running etc. You may tend to concentrate better on tasks when you are moving.

The Explorer

you like exploring the world around you, whether you like to explore new places, new sensations, or new subjects.    

The Competitor

you like to compete and win, whether playing a video game, beating your best time in running, or playing football.

 The Director

you like to plan and execute events, like school plays, social outings, birthday parties, etc.      


The Collector

you like to collect things of a certain pattern, whether they are coins, photos of the food you've eaten at nice restaurants, surfing at all best sites, etc.

The Artist / Creator

 you like to make things. This may involve painting, building computers, fixing broken appliances, cooking, decorating, etc.  

The Storyteller

you like to be transported or transport others into an alternate reality. You like to read books, watch movies, act, direct films, write short stories, tell elaborate stories to friends, etc.

Some Play research:

Students pay more attention to academics after they’ve had recess--an unstructured break in which kids are free to play without direction from adults (Pellegrini, Holmes 2006).

A convergent problem has a single correct solution; a divergent problem can have multiple solutions. Kids given divergent play materials performed better on divergent problems. They also showed more creativity in their attempts to solve the problems (Pepler, Ross 1981).

Play is important for building social competence and confidence in dealing with peers (Howes, 1998; Raver; Howes & Matheson, 1992; Singer & Singer, 2005)

Extrinsic rewards often reduce intrinsic motivation to learn (Deci, 1971)

Stages of Play:

  1. Anticipation: waiting with expectation, wondering what’s going to happen, curiosity, feeling a little anxious about the slight uncertainty and risk
  2. Surprise: finding the unexpected, discovering a new sensation or idea, seeing a shifting perspective
  3. Pleasure: feeling like we do when we hear a good joke with an unexpected twist at the end, or when we finally find a solution to a problem
  4. Understanding: the acquisition of new knowledge, synthesizing of distinct and separate concepts, incorporation of ideas that were previously foreign
  5. Strength: empowerment coming from having gone through a scary experience unscathed, mastery coming from constructive experience and understanding, knowing more of how the world works
  6. Poise: feeling contentment, composure, grace, a sense of balance in life

(Play by Stuart Brown. Scott Eberle is the Director of Play Studies at the Strong National Museum of Play)