Play and Social-Emotional Behaviors

Date of Award


Document Type

Research Project

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)




The purpose of this study was to observe and analyze the relationship of children’s behaviors during free play and teacher-directed play. Play is an important aspect of children’s development and is decreasing in today’s early childhood programs (Ashiab, 2007). Observations and a social-emotional behavior checklist were used to determine the types of behaviors visible during play in two kindergarten classrooms from an Upper New England elementary school. Twenty students were observed during free play and teacher-directed play. Observations were then coded based upon the types of play and what behaviors occurred during each type of play. Results for this study show that free play choices were of child interest, while teacher-directed play were academic based. Free play resulted in less aggressive behaviors due to children being more engaged in choices that were of interest to them. Further research is necessary to better understand behaviors that occur in various play situations.


Affiliation: AOS 92- George J. Mitchell School