Playing for Keeps

About Playing For Keeps

Playing for Keeps logoWhat if there were a way to make play not only more wholesome, creative and imaginative for children, but also more targeted to their developmental needs? Could promoting an environment of constructive play in our schools be part of the solution to school-based violence? Shouldn’t all children have access to play that fits their developmental level, regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances or abilities? Shouldn't parents be encouraged to remember that kids need unstructured time in their day for imaginative free play?

Playing for Keeps was founded in 1998 to promote and protect the role of play in our society. ACM adopted the former nonprofit as one of its leadership initiatives in 2008, with transitional funding from past Playing for Keeps supporters. Play has always been at the core of ACM’s work and that of its members. Yet play opportunities for young children are diminishing, drawing increased concern from educators, parents and the general public. Promoting the necessity of play and advocating that communities and families make play a daily habit has become more important than ever.

Goals for the ACM Playing For Keeps Leadership Initiative

  • To elevate the discourse about the importance of play
  • To empower and support ACM members with resources and advocacy tools
  • To position children’s museums as vital early learning partners in their communities

Pretend Play Glossary

Developed for ACM by Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Download Glossary PDF with citations

  • Cognitive development: The development of the ability to imagine, perceive, reason and problem solve.
  • Correlation: The association between two variables.
  • Dual representation: Thinking about one thing in two ways at the same time—as both an object and a symbol.
  • Executive functioning: Cognitive processes that aid in the monitoring and control of thoughts and actions (such as self-regulation, planning and inhibition).
  • Free play: Play which is child-led play, without the constant interference or involvement of an adult.
  • Imaginary companion: A type of role-play in which children impersonate characters by creating pretend identities and interact with stuffed animals and invisible characters.
  • Imitation: Purposeful reproduction of another’s body movements, whether novel or familiar.
  • Individual differences: The aspects of people’s personalities that make them different from other people.
  • Metacognition: One’s knowledge of their own cognitive processes or anything related to them.
  • Metarepresentation: Representing how oneself or another represents the world.
  • Narrative: A sequence of events and/or states of affairs.
  • Narrative absorption: “Seeing” or experiencing a fictional scene as vividly as if one were personally experiencing it.
  • Object substitution: A type of pretend play in which an object (real or imagined) can be used “as if” it were another object (e.g., pretending a block is a car or pretending with an imagined car).
  • Parallel play: When children play along side others but do not interact.
  • Perspective taking: The ability to step outside one’s own perspective and adopt the perspective of another person.
  • Play therapy: A therapeutic model that uses the benefits of play to facilitate treatment with an emphasis on the relationship between therapist and client.
  • Pretend play: Acting “as if” something is real when it is not. The term is also used interchangeably with other related terms such as dramatic play, make-believe play, imaginative play, and fantasy play. The fact that pretend play goes by so many names highlights its complexity and the numerous interpretations of this behavior.
  • Pretense: See pretend play.
  • Representational insight: The realization that something is a symbol that stands for something else.
  • Role play: A type of pretend play in which children create imaginary roles or characters, and act “as if” they are another character or animal (e.g., Batman or a cat).
  • Scaffolding: A process in which more competent people provide a temporary framework that supports children's thinking at a higher level than children could manage on their own.
  • Script: A well-rehearsed and remembered set of actions and remarks that is associated with a particular character or context.
  • Sensorimotor play: The exploration of sensations and movements through play.
  • Social development: The ways in which individuals’ social interactions and expectations change across the lifespan.
  • Structured play: Play which is adult-led, guided and planned.
  • Theory of mind: The understanding that behavior is guided by unobservable mental states, such as beliefs, intentions and desires.

Play Advocates

Alliance for Childhood • Academy of Pediatrics • American Association for the Child's Right to Play • American Specialty Toy Retailing Association • Association for the Study of Play • Association of Children’s Museums • Children & Nature Network • Children, Youth, and Families Education and Research Network • Children’s Play Information Service • Connect for Kids • Good to Grow! • Hands On! Europe • Institute of Play • International Play Association • International Toy Library Association • The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop • The Judy Center Partnership • KaBoom! • Kiwanis International • The Media Group of Connecticut, Inc. • National Association for the Education of Young Children • National Institute for Early Education Research • The National Institute of Play • National Toy Hall of Fame • The Parent-Child Home Program • Parenting Counts • Parents Action for Children • Parents’ Choice Foundation • PBS Ready to Learn • Play England • Project Play • Toy Industry Association, Inc. • TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment) • United Way Born Learning Campaign • United Way of America • Voice of Play • Youth Service America • ZERO TO THREE

Playing for Keeps Transition Supporters

Alex Panline USA, Inc. • Gerber Foundation of the Bank of America Charitable Gift Fund • John W. Lee II • RC2 Corporation • ThinkFun, Inc.