Understanding Children’s Free Play in Primary Schools

Pradthana Jarusriboonchai, Janis Lena Meissner, Teresa Almeida, Madeline Balaam

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Various technologies (e.g., tablets, toolkits, and digital toys) are used in schools. However, they are often designed to introduce new play practices for serving pre-defined learning purposes. In this study, we are interested in constructive play ’in the wild’ and how technologies can be integrated more organically into the ways young school children are already playing. This paper presents 4 one-week ethnographic study in four early primary school class- rooms (children aged 5-7). The aim is to gain insights in children’s free play and identify design opportunities for technology serving children’s constructive play. Our findings illustrate children’s interactions with resources and peers during free play, which often involve imitations and dynamically change between being solitary and social. We observed that children’s constructive play was often associated with other forms of play. On this basis, we suggest three design implications for technologies that support and encourage constructive play during fee play in schools.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication9th International Conference on Communities and Technologies (C&T 2019)
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication dateJun 2019
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-7162-9/19/06
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Early childhood
  • play
  • constructive play
  • free play
  • free-time activities
  • design implications
  • design opportunities
  • primary school


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