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Am J Occup Ther. 2008 Sep-Oct;62(5):522-7.

Playful interaction: occupational therapy for all children on the school playground.

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  • 1Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Lidcombe New South Wales, Australia.


We examined the impact of an intervention on the playfulness of 5- to 7-year-old children who are developing typically. Materials that had no defined purpose were placed on a school playground for 11 weeks. The Test of Playfulness (ToP) was used to compare videotaped play segments pre- and postintervention. Teachers who did playground duty were interviewed regarding changes in play. ToP data were analyzed using a Wilcoxon signed-ranks test. Interview data were analyzed for themes. ToP scores were significantly higher after intervention (Z= -1.94; p = .025, one-tailed; Cohen's d = 0.55). Teachers reported that children were more social, creative, and resilient when the materials were on the playground. Children who were creative, rather than very physically capable, became leaders in activity. Our results revealed a potential role for occupational therapists with typically developing children in schools. This finding has clear implications for children with disability.

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