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Play in Early Childhood Evaluation System



What does it measure?

Exploratory Play

  • First to develop

  • Includes object manipulation, mouthing, using objects together and other basic acts

Simple Pretend Play

  • Emerges around 1 year

  • One-step pretend play acts (e.g., pretending an object is something that it isn't, pretending to be someone else)

Complex Pretend Play

  • Emerges around 2 years

  • Multi-step play acts that incorporate multiple types of simple pretend play

Social Interactions

  • Initations, cooperative acts and conversation

The Play In Early Childhood Evaluation System (PIECES) is an assessment tool that can be used to identify strengths and weaknesses in the area of play skills. It can be used to help identify an area in need of intervention, to screen classrooms for general areas of need or to help determine eligibility.
Specifically, the PIECES provides information on three main types of play: exploratory play, simple pretend play and complex pretend play. For more information on what play skills fall under each category, examples of each skill and the approximate age at which skill emerges, check out the Play Descriptions and Codes guide, below. The PIECES also provides information on basic social exchanges that occur (or fail to occur) during play.
The PIECES should be used to observe a child's play in his or her natural setting. Ideally, this setting would contain toys that lend themselves to pretend play. This includes traditional toys (e.g., kitchen sets, plastic foods, plastic animals, baby dolls) and non-toy items that require a little bit of imagination (e.g., toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes, egg cartons, foam balls).
Play and interactions should be led by the child and the observer should strive to remain a part of the background rather than initiating any sort of play with the child. We want to know what the child currently can do and chooses to do on his or her own, not what he/she can do with adult prompting. It is recommended that the observation last for at least 30 minutes.
The forms that accompany the PIECES can be downloaded for free below.
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