References and Inspirational Organizations

This is a (hopefully) regularly updated list of references to scholarly articles, organizations, and other groups that are discussing, studying, and promoting play and enriching environments. It’s as much a reference for myself as for others. If you have something you’d like to contribute to this list, please feel free to shoot me an email. 🙂

Resources not online:

  • Locomotor-rotational movements in the ontogeny and play of the laboratory rat Rattus …SM Pellis, VC Pellis – Developmental Psychobiology, 1983 – Wiley
  • Play: Its role in development and evolution. JS Bruner, A Jolly, K Sylva – 1976
    Refining the motor training hypothesis for the evolution of play. JA Byers, C Walker – American naturalist, 1995
    The ontogeny of locomotor play behaviour in the domestic cat. P Martin, P Bateson – Animal behaviour, 1985
    Play behavior and exercise in young ponies (Equus caballus L.). RM Fagen, TK George – Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 1977 – Springer
  • Martin P., and Caro T.M. 1985 “On the functions of play and its role in behavioral development.” Advances in the study of behavior 15:59-103. New York: Academic Press.
  • Playtime kills young chimps: Social contact leads to disease and death for Ivory Coast apes. John Whitfield
    • Abstract: For young chimpanzees, play can be fatal. Germs spread by play explain why one African group shows waves of infant mortality that peak every three years, say experts who have studied them.
  • The Emotional Lives of Animals By Marc Bekoff, Jane Goodall
  • Affect, Creative Experience, and Psychological Adjustment. By Sandra Walker Russ
    • Abstract: The Affect in Play Scale, which Russ developed, measures the range and kinds of emotions children exhibit while engaged in a five-minute pretend play session, using a boy and girl hand puppet and a set of three blocks. In the 1987 study, the children were videotaped playing with the toys, while the older children were asked to construct a play with a story line using the toys. This test measures 11 categories of positive and negative emotions children can use in play. Students also were given the Alternate Uses Test, which tested creativity by asking them to write as many uses as they could think of for an object like a newspaper.
  • The Origins of Creativity. By Karl H. Pfenninger, Valerie R. Shubik, Bruce Adolphe
  • “Children’s voices: Children Talk About Literacy” edited by Sally Hudson-Ross, Linda Miller Cleary, Mara Casey
  • Play at work: revisiting data focusing on chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)
    Author(s): Palagi E (Palagi, Ellisabetta) Source: JOURNAL OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL SCIENCES    Volume: 85    Pages: 63-81    Published: 2007

    • Abstract: In this article I combine old and new data to provide an up to date contribution on social play in primates and, particularly, in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Play behaviour is an ontogenetic trait in many mammalian species and is widely believed to have an important role in the assembly of adult behaviour. However play may be at work also during some peculiar situations favouring cohesion and social manipulation. Here, I investigate some topics on social play. Firstly, I investigate the social mechanisms which are at the basis of the play-partner choice by exploring the “play intensity watching” hypothesis. Original data are used to examine how young chimpanzees modulate play sessions by using play signals (meta-communication). Secondly, I present data on the distribution Of social play and grooming in the periods around feeding time and in a control condition, showing that play frequencies between adults and unrelated subjects are significantly higher during pre-feeding. I discuss the possibility that play behaviour can be used to prevent conflict escalation and to increase a peaceful co-feeding (pre-conflict management). Finally, in a comparative approach, I contrast data collected on the two Pan species in order to evaluate whether, despite their phylogenetic closeness and similar social structure (fission-fusion society), chimpanzees and bonobos (Pan paniscus) show differences in adult play behavior.
  • Bateson, Gregory. 1955 A theory of play and fantasy. Psychiatric Research resports 2:39-51.
  • Childhood_nature_play_research (Children & Nature Network). 2001

Resources that are online:


Interesting Charts and graphs

Table: Game Types, categorized by Piaget’s development periodsGame Typology, categorized by Piaget development periods




  • Kicker Studio: “There are Wii bowling tournaments now for elders. It takes a sport they love, but there’s no weight of the ball anymore. They can play it in a wheelchair. It’s a huge hit at nursing homes,” said Dan Saffer, a founder of Kicker Studio and author of Designing Gestural Interfaces.
  • Ken Robinson – PhD, Thinker on Education and value of play
  • Felice Frankel – Microphotographer
  • Noah Finkelstein
  • Joe Meeker, PhD      Professor, Union Institute. Ecologist, Ethologist, Classical Scholar.      Author, “The Comedy of Survival”. Expert on the history of the “loss”of adult play with the emergence of the Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian, Industrial Revolution as mainstream traditions.
  • CJ Rogers, PhD,      Founder of “Raised by Wolves” Research Center      Psychotherapist, animal behavior ethologist. Has made original contributions noting the importance of play in the establishment of communal social behavior in wolves and its relevance to the evolution of human cooperation.
  • Bowen White, MD      Board member, NIFP, corporate consultant      Play practitioner, expert in stress medicine, play as therapy. Author of “Why Normal Isn’t Healthy” .
  • Adrienne Zihlman PhD.      Professor, Anthropology, UCSC      Expert in the origins of bipedalism, evolution of primate behavior. Widely published author.
  • Creators Project
  • Adventure School in Seattle
  • Plexipixel
  • Sesame Street