Young children's free play and problem‐solving ability

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This study was initiated to experimentally demonstrate a relationship between young children's play behavior and problem‐solving ability. Preschool children were initially given the opportunity to either view a puppet show demonstration or engage in undirected play with a variety of materials which were later presented in a task. The children in the free play group were shown to perform as well on both aspects of the task as those who viewed the demonstrations. The four demonstration groups were shown either the solution to the first or both phases of the problem‐solving task and were either allowed to physically manipulate and repeat the demonstration instructions or to passively view them. It was concluded that the exploratory and manipulatory characteristics of play contributed to a general problem‐solving ability which can be specifically applied to successful solution of a task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-46
Number of pages22
JournalLeisure Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1985


  • Children's play
  • Divergent thinking
  • Play theory
  • Play training
  • Problem solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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