An observational study of children's behaviors across two playgrounds: Similarities and differences

Tina L. Stanton-Chapman, Sinem Toraman, Audra Morrison, Jacinda K. Dariotis, Eric L. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study is to explore similarities and differences in physical activity levels for boys and girls in seven areas across two playgrounds. Two playgrounds in a mid-Atlantic state in the United States were purposefully selected based on their playground design and structure. The System for Observing Play and Leisure Activities in Youth was used to document children's physical activity types, track children's locations, and code activity type. Playground A had five different areas, and Playground B had three different areas. Across the two playgrounds, data were collected across 416 total 1-minute intervals (morning, afternoon, and evening), spanning 13 days (weekend and weekdays) over a three-month period. The implications of this work are detailed observations of children's play equipment and activity choices may provide insight into optimal playground equipment design and layout for play and social interactions between peers; fixed contemporary play equipment and open play spaces should be considered when designing new community playgrounds, as they appear to be equally interesting to boys and girls; and girls’ attire on a community playground and more available play space may contribute to more active play in girls than what was found in studies investigating play patterns on school playgrounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-123
Number of pages10
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Children
  • Observation
  • Physical activity
  • Playgrounds
  • Preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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