To help students understand children’s play in contemporary society, students will
observe children’s play in the SJSU toddler and preschool labs on campus in order to
recognize the interaction of social institutions (i.e., child care centers), culture (i.e.,
gender role expectations, ethnicity), and environment (i.e., indoor and outdoor play areas)
that shape the nature of young children’s play. Students will use an objective, reliable,
and valid measure (PLAY: Farmer-Dougan & Kaszuba 1999) of children’s play to help
categorize and understand what they observe.
Half the class will observe toddlers and half the class will observe preschoolers. In both
cases, students will observe 4 children (1 Euro-Anglo boy, 1 Euro-Anglo girl, 1 non
Euro-Anglo boy, and 1 non Euro-Anglo girl) once when they are outdoors and once when
they are indoors). Students will write up their observations.
You should begin by describing the four children you are observing (age (preschool
versus toddler), gender, ethnicity (roughly Asian, African American, Latino, Middle
Eastern, South-East Asian, Polynesian, Native American, or Euro-Anglo), the clothes
they are wearing, who they are interacting with (teacher, peers, # of peers), and what
activity they are engaged in. This should be done for both indoor and outdoor
observations. You should use the labels from the observation code to discuss the play you
observe and explain why the children fit into that particular category.
Next, in your write-up, you will compare and contrast the types of play you observed by
location (indoors vs. outdoors), gender, and ethnicity. You should read the article by
Farmer-Dougan and Kaszuba (1999). Their results can help you place your results in
context and will help you to understand what you observe. Feel free to (and I strongly