“It is in playing, and only in playing, that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.” – D.W.Winnicott
Older adults are an important part of the population, and according to Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics the older adults are growing in numbers, living longer and are more active than the previous older generations. Research shows that majority of the studies focused on the health of older adults related to problems and diseases. Therefore few researchers have tired to look at the playful disposition of adults and its influence on their health. Yarnal, 2004 opined that playfulness also holds great potential for contributing to healthy aging. Elder, Johnson, and Crosnoe (2003) have also stressed that playfulness and having fun in later life may contribute to the maintenance of cognitive functioning, emotional growth, and healthy aging overall. Bartlett and Peel 2005 define this playfulness of older adults as a “process of adaptation to physical and psycho-social changes across the life course to attain optimal physical, mental and social well being in old-age.”
Guitard, Ferland, and Dutil (2005) identified few playful characteristics of older adults which are creativity, curiosity, pleasure, and a sense of humor. Playful older adults are mischievous, naughty, have a disposition towards being funny. Carver and White opine that these characteristics show the cognitive capacity of older adults.
Playful older adults are happy, joyful and enthusiastic in their approach to life which shows them being positive emotionally. Tugade and Fredrickson refer to this disposition of Playful older adults as being ‘psychologically upbeat’. Research studies by Miller and Ferland suggests that playful older adults can be a very novel and at their creative best too.
Research studies have proved that by encouraging playfulness in older adults it would help them to deal with everyday stressors, leads to healthy ageing, can balance between positive and negative emotional health as well good cognitive functioning.


Yarnal and Xinyi QianOlder (2011), ‘Adult Playfulness An Innovative Construct and Measurement for Healthy Aging Research’, American Journal of Play, volume 4, number 1, pg 52-79.

By Dr Srividya K


Kenneth Rubin and his associates in their research work on social and non social play, have tried to distinguish the difference between social and non social play.

Rubin, Fein and Vandenberg (1983) defined play in terms of the following characteristics:

(1) Play is not governed by appetitive drives, compliance with social demands, or by inducements external to the behavior itself; instead play is intrinsically motivated.

(2) play is spontaneous, free from external sanctions, and its goals are self-imposed.

(3) play asks “What can I do with this object or person?” (this differentiates play from exploration which asks “What
is this object /person and what I do with it/him/her?”).

(4) play is not a serious rendition of an activity or a behavior it resembles; instead it consists of activities that can be labelled as pretense .

(5) play is free from externally imposed rules.

(6) play involves active engagement.

According to Rubin and associates , “Social play compromises the associated constructs of social participation, social competence, and sociability, and typically involves two (or more) children participating in functional-sensorimotor, constructive, and dramatic activities, and games-with-rules. It also comprises active conversations between children as they go about interacting with each other, negotiating play roles and game rules”.

‘Nonsocial play is defined as the display of solitary activities and behaviors in the presence of other potential play partners’.  Thus according to this definition a child sitting and all alone in any given environment is not engaging in nonsocial play are there are not other play mates surrounding them.

To understand more about nonsocial play, a tool named ‘The Play Observation Scale’, was developed by Rubin in the 1970’s to  make observations on the structural components of play. This tool was constructed along the lines of Parten’s and Smilansky’s classification of play. During the administration process of tool, and analysis of the results three distinct sub types of nonsocial forms of play was classified based on the type of play children were involved in.

These sub types are Reticent behaviour is a play behaviour where the children are either onlooker (observing other children at play) or unoccupied (looking aimlessly, just roaming around, without any goal). Solitary – passive play is a play behaviour that characterizes a child quietly involving oneself with exploring objects in a very inert manner playing all alone. Solitary – active play is a play behaviour where the child is actively involved in playing with or without objects and more importantly in the presence of other children.

These nonsocial forms of play can have various meaning, depends on the circumstances and the developmental milestone achievement of a child with various degrees of psycho social development.

By Dr Srividya K


  • March, 23rd, 2018
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Stages of pretend play

Pretend play is a very important part of the developmental aspect which is very normal as well helps in enhancing the cognitive, emotional, language and social skills. Also through pretend play a child is naturally learning to solve problems, think creatively and critically.

Researchers have identified stages in pretend play, and given below is an amalgamation of a few, and these stages are observed in a typical development. Researchers like Weitzman and Greenberg, Sherri Johnson opinionated that pretend play starts by around the age of 12 months and may end up pretend playing for 5-6 hours per day.

During 12-18 months toddlers try to pretend play simple actions like sleeping, brushing or eating with real objects. Pretend play is restricted to pretending about themselves. From 18-24 months the pretend play moves from pretending on oneself to pretending with others. Children will play with toys or other adults, still using real objects for pretending at the same time making imitating adult like actions.

From 24-30 months a toddler’s language development moves past from using single words to speaking in half broken, grammatically not so correct sentences. actions that a child performs are the ones the child is very familiar with. At this point, the child is able to pretend roles by combining lots of actions like putting a baby to sleep, or imitating a cooking process. Cognitively they are able to think of not using realistic objects frequently.  30 – 36 months actions tread the path of less familiar roles and pretending is possible without the real objects and as make believe imaginary objects.

36 months on wards, children are in the preschooler stage, they socialize with other children, have complex thinking capacity, and hence they are able to pretend play in a group. Children role play on imaginary themes, use props, can scrip small dramas.

Pretend play provides for the child with a lot of opportunities to relive moments that they might have observed in their surroundings, giving them a way to vent their feelings and a sense of satisfaction.

By Dr Srividya K








Whenever children say ‘let’s pretend’, a new landscape of possibilities is revealed. When children pretend, they try on new feelings, roles and ideas. They stretch their minds along with their imagination. – Curtis & Carter.

I am a doctor now… Let’s play teacher…. and so on.. the role plays continues. These conversations as so typically heard among children everywhere, especially during the early childhood years. Pretend play or role play, all of it means the same. Researchers believe that pretend play helps in the development of cognitive and social abilities.

Psychologist Sandra Russ (2004) identified a number of different cognitive and affective processes that are associated with pretend play. The research reviewed by Berk, Mann & Ogan, (2006) and Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, Berk, & Singer (2009) suggest that make-believe games are forerunners of the important capacity for forms of self-regulation including reduced aggression, delay of gratification, civility, and empathy.

An important  benefit of early pretend play may be its enhancement of the child’s capacity for cognitive flexibility and, ultimately, creativity (Russ, 2004; Singer & Singer, 2005). Studies have demonstrated cognitive benefits such as increases in language usage including subjunctives, future tenses, and  adjectives.

Parents and teachers can encourage pretend play by keeping in mind Vygotsky’s concept of scaffolding. According Bodorva 2008, who used the Tools of the mind Curriculum, which is based on Vygotsky’s concept of scaffolding proves that cognitive control can be achieved if teachers complex make-believe play, guiding children in jointly planning of play scenarios before enacting them. Teachers also lead rule-switching games in which regular movement patterns shift often, requiring flexibility of attention.

To be continued…

By Dr Srividya K




In social play children learn to negotiate with others, how to please others, and how to modulate and overcome the anger that can arise from conflicts – Peter Gray (Free to learn)

Kenneth H. Rubin is a Professor of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology and Founding Director, Center for Children, Relationships, and Culture at the University of Maryland. Rubin’s area of research work has been mainly related to child and adolescent social development, peer and parent-child relationships.
Rubin and his co research associates have been working in understanding children’s social, dramatic and cognitive play. The research studies conducted in this area lead them to findings which were very similar to Mildred Parten and Sara Smilansky explanations about play. The studies also lead to successful combining of Parent and Smilansky categories of play.

The results obtained from Rubin’s and his associates studies clarifies of children’s play in accordance to their developmental milestone. By combining Parten’s and Smilansky’s play categories Rubin and his associates proposed the below theory of play outlined in the table below;


FUNCTIONAL PLAY Child plays by self with or without objects Child plays parallel to others with or without objects Child plays with a group with or without objects
CONSTRUCTIVE PLAY Child plays by self constructing or creating something. Child plays parallel to others constructing or creating something. Child plays with a group constructing or creating something.
DRAMATIC PLAY Child plays by self in pretending type activity. Child plays parallel to others in pretending type activity Child plays with a group in pretending type activity

By Dr Srividya K.



“Sociodramatic play is the most advanced form of social and symbolic play. In sociodramatic play, children carry out imitation and dramatic and fantasy play together. Sociodramatic play involves role-playing, in which children imitate real-life people and experiences that they have had themselves. Make-believe is also a component because it serves as an aid to imitation. It allows the children to represent real-life events and includes their imaginations in carrying out their roles.” The child’s abilities in sociodramatic play improve with experience, and, as the child plays with different children, play becomes more varied to include new interpretations and ideas.” – WILLIAM H. STRADER

Sara Smilansky, a renowned researcher and a professor from Israel, has researched on the sociodramatic aspect of child’s play. Smilansky has a a lot of publications on play and it’s relation to learning. Initially, Smilansky worked with Jean Piaget, which led to the development of three stages of play, which has been mentioned in the earlier blog, that is sensory motor play, symbolic play and games with rules.

Further, Smilansky reworked on Piaget’s theory of explaining that play does not occur in stages but rather children engage in four types of play which is present at all stages of development. The four types of play are;
Functional play, where children use their muscles and senses to explore things around
Conditional play, where children use the muscles and senses at the same time are trying to be creative.
Games with rules, where children are trying to understand the use of rules in play.
Dramatic play, which according to Smilansky is the most complex form of play involving the imitative capacities of the children.
According to Smilansky, these types of play effects academic success in children. Smilansky worked further on Sociodramatic play of children to understand it’s relevance to learning. According to Smilansky, “Sociodramatic play is also considered as dramatic play children engage in at a social setting”. This play occurs at two levels imitative and imaginative. Imitative is the first level where the child imitates real persons and real situations. Imagination goes a level higher than imitative, when the child begins to enact and create a whole imaginary situation to include whatever they imitate.

Sociodramatic play and the four types of play as explained by Smilansky are the key components for understanding the relation between play and learning.

Smilansky’s research greatly contributed to the world of developmental psychology. It greatly impacted research on the effects of play and learning. The research she’s contributed to says that sociodramatic play allows for preparation for children’s school years. It was also found that the type of background children come from has an effect on sociodramatic play, which affects their learning and academics.

By Dr Srividya K.



“In play, children work together to change the rules to meet the situation they face, which is powerful social experience.” – Joan Almon

Mildred Bernice Parten Newhall, was an American Sociologist and a researcher at the University of Minnesota Institute of Child Development. Parten is very well know for her research on social play among children from the age group of 2-5 years during the late 1920’s. She observed children in a one minute time frame and recorded their behaviours which lead to explaining the different types of play occurring in different age groups. The observation lead her to explaining that play also varies in complexity as the age varies and also depends on the type of interaction the children have among them. Based on her observations Parten categorized six stages of play; Unoccupied, Onlooker, Solitary, Parallel, Associative and Cooperative play.

Unoccupied play behaviour is observed among children from 2-3 years of age, where the child is not involved in any form of play and will be randomly moving around watching or not watching other children in play.

Onlooker play behaviour is usually observed in toddlers where the children are not involved in any play activity but will be very keenly observing and enjoying other children at play. Unoccupied and Onlooker are almost similar.

In solitary play the child or children play by themselves; all alone and do not involve any other children. There is no interaction happening in this stage of play.

Parallel play involves 3 or 4 children playing together with or without the same toys, without any interaction.

Associative play is that stage of play where the child plays by interacting with other children. The child is in a group, sharing materials and interacting but will not be involved in any common activity. Here the child is learning to associate with others.

Cooperative play is the most social form of play where a group of children are involved in a common activity with a lot of interaction, striving to achieve a goal, with different members involved in various roles leading to a meaningful outcome.

Parten’s findings suggests that the children involve in complex activities as they grow and mature and play becomes more complex with age. The stages identified by Parten does not overall disappear as the child matures, she in fact observed that glimpses of earlier stages of play is sometimes observed in children of higher age groups.

By Dr Srividya K.


Tackle Summer Camp 2016

For more details Click here

The summer camp dates are: Shivanapura – 28th to 31st March; JC Nagar – 4th to 7th April; Bellur – 4th to 7th April; Kyalanur – 11th to 14th April; A Narayanapura – 18th to 21st April

  • March, 24th, 2016
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Play based Learning

Arivu’s focus is on improving English reading and comprehension for children in Karnataka middle schools (Grades VI, VII and VIII). Unlike the traditional teacher led instruction, the focus of the programme is to introduce play based learning in schools.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) included the right “to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child” as one of the undeniable rights of children. This is in line with the views amongst many theorists from multi-disciplinary backgrounds, that play has a significant role in the development of children

The English curricula for students which has been designed by experts, is   child-centered. Classes are activity based where students are encouraged to be creative, think out of the box and interact. Teachers play the role of facilitators and not just information providers

Source: Nurturing Early Learners,MoD,Singapore

When we see a child playing with a flower, or in the dirt or kipping or playing tag, we should remind ourselves that what we are looking at is the child-like result of a deep and irresistible urge to interact with and have knowledge of the world and everything in it.

  • September, 19th, 2015
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Digital Learning

We explore various games and videos in the Arivu-Disha class, which helps our minds grow.

Learning facilitated by tablets, is a unique feature of the progamme. Every content class is followed by a digital learning session where students are provided with tables to explore and learn from a range of selected e-content, games and videos.  

Use of tablets aid in high rates of information retention, shorter learning time and  
greater engagement of students in class. The programme encourages a combination of digital content and facilitator led class in schools.

People remember 20% of what they see, 40% of what they see and hear and about 75% of what they see, hear and do simultaneously

Where the Arivu-Disha programme has been launched, it has been observed that students enthusiastically learn, participate, communicate and perform better in class

  • September, 19th, 2015
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