The 9 Different Types Of Play And Our Outdoor Play Equipment

Because we’re intentional in the commercial playground equipment we provide!


Playtime for kids is so vital in their social, physical, and cognitive skills — especially in their early development. They need time that expands beyond the screens and into the great outdoors. Not only do they experience their world in a new perspective, but they also extrapolate valuable information. 


At MVP Playgrounds, we equip religious organizations, schools, HOAs, city parks, and developers with commercial playground equipment that is safe, durable, and fun! Learn more about the different types of play and playground components have to incorporate fun and learning! 

Why Playtime Is Still Relevant


While screens aren’t the end of the world in a child’s development — there are many great games and activities — it’s important that they’re exposed to the many different types of play. What are the types of play? Let’s dive into them below!


Researcher Mildred Parten developed stages of play in the 1930s that embodied the idea that play is learning how to relate and get along with others, which veered from Jean Piaget’s idea that emphasized that play is for intellectual and cognitive development — at MVP Playgrounds, we’re here to say, though we’re no experts, it’s a little bit of both! 


Common Types Of Play


Unoccupied Play


This is an initial form of play that infants do and there is really no rhyme or reason to it — this is when babies hang out on a play mat and interact with the toys. This is also a time when babies just observe. 


Solitary Play


Ages three months to well over a year get a lot of their play from solitary play, which is exactly what it sounds like — doing things by themselves. This can be both playing by themselves alone at home or playing around others and observing what they’re doing while staying to themselves. 


Bent Old Fort, Brookside Landing, and Cedar Ridge all have playground components that can facilitate solitary play for kids such as the bongos, shop, and ship’s wheel.


Onlooker Play

This is mostly recognized in toddlers and it gives the child a chance to play through observing other kids — children learn new language skills and relating to and interacting is modeled to them. This is what makes a playground such a rich opportunity for development in this play stage because toddlers can easily observe others. 


Parallel Play


Parallel play is observed in kids 18 months through two years and highlights kids playing with others and mimicking their behavior. This is an opportunity for role-playing which can enhance empathy and develop and improve teaching them how to share.


Both Mission Ridge and Pueblo Cliffs, and truly any of our commercial playgrounds provide an environment for parallel play because kids’ imaginations run wild and many adventures await!


Associative Play


This is a common stage of play for toddlers three to four years old, and this is where you might begin to see the transition from onlooker and parallel play to associative play where they begin to interact with others.


Associative play is where the social butterflies begin to emerge! And while at this stage kids seize the opportunities to play with others, they’re still not at the point in their development where they verbally know how to communicate their need to plan a playdate. 


Rules and guidelines along with learning more about what’s right and wrong is strong in this stage as kids navigate sharing and taking turns.   


Help kids sharpen their skills of turn-taking with exciting playsets such as Rocky Point that has a double slide, Silver Plume with a vertical rock climbing wall, and Wright Plains that has the ever-coveted spiral slide!


Physical Play


Physical play highlights the need for kids to get moving — from running and jumping to skipping and playing tag — there is a high need for physical activity. 


Playgrounds are a safe way for kids to indulge in physical play — they can go round and round together on the spiral climber featured in our Trail Ridge playground or monkey around on the overhead straight rung horizontal ladder (aka monkey bars) in the Sand Dunes outdoor playset. 


Coordination and confidence are also fostered when kids have the chance to get out and play.


Constructive Play

Kids like to build and create things in this stage of play and often kids can dig in the sand and construct things while hanging out around the playground. This is also a stage of beginning to discover patterns and problem solve which makes our Gem Hill playground perfect for finding patterns in our tic-tac-toe playground component. Or, identify patterns on the multi-color pod climber in the Brookside Landing outdoor playset.  


Expressive Play


This is the play stage where kids begin to explore their emotions and feelings and learn to express them through art, role-playing, and music. We have a variety of commercial playgrounds that have drums and bongos on the ground level to encourage expressive play through music! 


Dramatic Play


This type of play is all about the imagination and creating fantasies in play. Children develop their language not only through watching but in dramatic play. Here they can use new words and what they’re learning and apply it in this type of play. They’re also able to work through their emotional needs and problem solve by projecting it into these fantasies. 


Playtime is a marriage between developing cognitive and intellectual skills with emotional and physical prowess — and outdoor playgrounds are the heartbeat of all the different kinds of play. 

Provide kids with safe, fun, and durable commercial playgrounds and connect with us today!