Five types of social play among children can be observed. These include Solitary, Onlooker, Parallel, Associative, as well as Cooperative Play. Below, we have outlined the distinctions between these types of play and included how universal and inclusive playground designs promote positive social atmospheres where children can thrive.

During Solitary Play, children are usually preoccupied in learning to navigate their new atmosphere. This includes exploration and often time alone to acclimate to the new environment. Solitary Play can occur in any area of the playground.

The next stage of interaction is Onlooker Play. This occurs when the child observes others playing yet does not engage with them just yet.   However, the child may begin to initiate or engage in social interactions that include conversations. Miracle Playsystems helps facilitate Onlooker Play by installing equipment into groups. In this way, children can observe the ways that other children play, and they can engage when they feel ready and comfortable.  

Parallel Plays occurs when two children are playing next to one another. Usually, Parallel Play happens when children are side by side yet are playing by themselves. During this time, they are given the opportunity to watch, listen, and learn from one another. Examples of Parallel Play include climbing, swinging, going down slides, or playing with musical instruments.

The next type of play is Associative Play. Here, the children are still playing alone yet they are doing what other children are currently doing. One example of this is if one child mimics what another does, such as putting on a particular outfit in dressing up. They often start to engage in conversation with one another and take turns with toys while still playing by themselves. Many Associative Play situations surround pretend play pieces of equipment, sand, or water.

Finally, Cooperative Play includes clear communication among the children and an active play effort in which they share ideas, take on different roles, and even begin to instruct one another as to what to do next. Skills such as speaking and listening are well utilized, and communication is the key that fuels Cooperative Play. Examples of this may be observed in game play, group spinners, or seesaws.



You can assist children in developing critical abilities such as social, verbal, and listening skills, as well as aid them in engaging their imagination, by designing and building a universal and inclusive playground. This will assist each child in the play process, and it will help them grow in confidence while having a great time. Simply contact us to add a Playground for All that children and adults of all ages and abilities can enjoy for years to come.

To learn more about our inclusive play products or to begin designing a unique custom and themed Playground for All, contact us today!