Mary D. Sheridan’s Play in Early Childhood is a classic introductory text to play and development – key topics for all those who work with young children. Drawing on the most up-to-date evidence, it explains how children’s play develops and how they develop as they play.

With over 100 illustrations and observations of play from birth to six years, this new edition presents classical and contemporary literature, making clear links between play and all areas of children’s development. It includes updated activities to consolidate thinking and suggestions for further reading throughout. This text considers:

  • the development, value and characteristics of play
  • issues relating to culture, adversity, gender, attachment and brain development
  • play from recreational, therapeutic and educational perspectives
  • the role of parents/caregivers and professionals in supporting play
  • how to develop observation and reflection skills for use in your own practice

Suitable both for those new to the area and for more experienced workers wanting a quick reference guide, this easy-to-follow book meets the needs of students and professionals from a wide range of health, education and social care backgrounds, including early years professionals, playworkers, children’s nurses, play therapists and social workers.

chapter |3 pages


chapter 1|24 pages

Theorizing about play

chapter 4|11 pages

Outlines of some particular play sequences

chapter 5|16 pages

Variation in children’s play

chapter 6|26 pages

Providing for play

chapter |3 pages

Useful play links