Often in play theory, textbooks and even research, play is defined from the perspectives of adults, and often those with specific interests in development and learning theories. Current policies have incorporated play into teaching practice. However, speculation as to the definitions of play have cause variances in the implementation of these policies. The aim of this research is to analyse play and its meaning from recollections of childhood play experiences.
The study utilized both quantitative and qualitative methods to collect rich detailed accounts of university students’ recollections of play. In total, 30 participants responded to an online questionnaire, and nine students attended semi-structured interviews. Recordings were transcribed and coded thematically.
Results concurred with previous literature in most cases. Findings showed that play was defined as ‘fun’ and ‘enjoyable’ activities. Play was often associated with social and physical requirements. Common play types included outdoor, imaginary and risky play. Despite research suggesting changes in society and culture are influencing play experiences, this was not indicated in the findings. Additionally, results showed a possible correlation between experiences of play as a child and how play is conducted as adults.