SKIP navigation

Play in Early Childhood Development  


Play is crucial for all areas of development. Play skills are related to cognitive development, social and linguistic competence, creativity, divergent thinking and problem solving, reading and academic skills, and impulse control because play is a child’s opportunity to practice these skills. Children learn about the world through play beginning with the first time they reach for a toy (and then put it in their mouth). Perhaps even more importantly, through these progressively more advanced experiments, problem solving exploits, or imaginary scenarios, children are learning how to learn. Play is also important because it’s fun! Research has identified positive affect as a definitive characteristic of play. Children who are enjoying themselves while exploring the world or using their imaginations are more likely to continue to explore and use their imaginations.

Headed by Lisa Kelly-Vance, Ph.D. and Brigette Ryalls, Ph.D. the UNO Play in Early Childhood Development Team is dedicated to the research and teaching of the importance of play in a developing child’s life. We would like to welcome you to our site and invite you to explore our resources. As Skellenger and Everett said, “Play is the business of childhood,” and we want every child’s business to be booming!

Projects, Publications and Presentations on Play in Early Childhood

Online Play Resources

We are currently in the process of developing a training for practitioners in using the Play in Early Childhood Evaluation System (PIECES). If you are interested in going through the training or learning more about play assessment and intervention, please email Lisa Kelly-Vance, Ph.D. or Brigette Ryalls, Ph.D.



“A child’s greatest achievements are possible in play”.

~ Vygotsky ~


Comments or Questions? Email the UNO Play Team: