All About The 5th Stage of Play — The Montessori-Minded Mom


In this report, you will master all about the developmental stage of play named Associative Engage in. You will understand what it is, at what age it happens, and you will get some suggestions on how to help this variety of engage in in your little one. 

If you think your toddler or preschooler may well be missing out on educational alternatives because they are “just participating in,” assume all over again.

In a research of 6-7-year-olds by the Universities of Colorado and Denver, it was identified that “children who put in much more time in much less-structured activities demonstrated improved self-directed government operate.”

You can examine that study in this article.

Government features are psychological capabilities required for self-control, multi-tasking, memory, psychological regulation, setting up/organizing, and adaptability.

These skills have an impact on educational performance and behavior, as properly as results as an grownup.

Another term for “less-structured things to do?” Play. Totally free perform, or boy or girl-led enjoy, encourages government working advancement.

Possessing an being familiar with of the levels of enjoy will assist you foster the regular discovering that takes place for the duration of your child’s enjoy.

In this report, we will focus on the 5th stage of play: Associative engage in.

What is Associative Play?

Associative enjoy is one of the 6 Phases of Perform made by sociologist, Dr. Mildred Parten Newhall.

The other 5 phases of participate in are (click on on one-way links for facts on each phase): 

Study additional about the 6 phases of engage in below

Associative engage in typically commences all over the age of 3. During this phase of enjoy, kids are partaking in the exact same activity, but their perform is unorganized and has no widespread goal.

This stage appears a ton like parallel engage in, but for the duration of associative enjoy, they are interacting with each other, while in parallel perform they are not.

During this phase, they are sharing toys, but their perform will be uncoordinated.

young children demonstrating associative play while building with wooden blocks.

Associative Engage in Examples:

Illustration 1

My daughter was taking part in with bristle blocks with a close friend (both of those 3), and they had been speaking to just about every other, expressing what they had been doing, and sharing the items.

My daughter was making a residence, while her friend was scooping them up with a bulldozer and placing them in a dump truck. 

Example 2

My daughters and their cousin have been at a children’s museum in the picket block area.

They every single started constructing things individually my older daughter was lining up blocks, and her cousin was setting up a tower.

They would speak to each individual other, telling the other what they had been doing, setting up right following to every single other.

But they had been not constructing the similar composition with each other.

Why is Associative Perform Essential?

This is an thrilling phase as their planet is increasing! They are turning into considerably less selfish and are starting to truly make mates.

In the course of this phase they find out:

Pursuits to Guidance Associative Perform


Uncover some area playgroups to expose them to distinctive small children who might be at distinctive phases of engage in.


Lesser one-on-a person playdates with good friends they are by now relaxed with will persuade them to truly interact during enjoy.

Indoor engage in destinations or children’s museums

These are equally environments that offer exposure to new little ones and participate in eventualities. They are also a great neutral area to apply sharing.

Tower setting up

This encourages conversation and sharing but doesn’t force cooperative participate in if they’re not quite prepared. You can get out building materials and prompt them to start out a tower and then phase back again.


As often, modeling communication, listening, and sharing though taking part in with your baby will assistance them understand how to respectfully interact and share with other people.

Outdoor pursuits

Go on group character walks or team bike rides. Read through more about Maria Montessori’s belief that out of doors play is very important in a child’s growth listed here.

Sensory functions

Pursuits such as playdough, sand, or h2o are enjoyable things to do to do facet by facet. Test out our listing of h2o tables below.

Arts & Crafts

Developing a group project will motivate conversation in between young children, or just set out a combine of materials and enable them develop aspect by facet.

all about associative play infographic.

Toys to Support Associative Engage in

Just as in most stages of enjoy, open-ended toys and pretend play are excellent to inspire associative play.

Most of the toys we counsel for parallel perform are the same, as you could obtain that they seamlessly go from parallel play to associative engage in all through these functions.

Setting up toys

Wood setting up blocks, legos or Magna-tiles all are perfect for quite a few stages of enjoy. Creating toys are good for parallel engage in all the way by means of to cooperative perform.

It is a wonderful open-ended action that encourages fine motor ability development, spatial awareness, creative imagination, and dilemma-fixing.


Any variety of fake perform can really encourage associative participate in. Gown-up lets for kids to begin role-taking part in and truly can help their creativeness develop.

Participate in kitchen

Little ones can have two individual goals (i.e., cooking a meal, washing dishes, cutting foods) but be proper subsequent to each and every other conversing during their play.

Verify out our listing of play foodstuff to go with your kitchen area listed here.

Animal figures

Animal figures are a excellent open-finished toy that interests small children of several distinctive ages.

Little one dolls

Baby dolls are not just for girls! Enjoying with infant dolls can help develop social and psychological abilities, this sort of as empathy and interaction, as effectively as great motor and self-enable expertise.

Craft materials

Just about anything from markers and crayons to googly eyes and paint! Permit youngsters get innovative collectively. Here‘s our listing of 100 need to-have artwork materials!

Associative play is a seriously interesting time you will get started observing your boy or girl actually make mates. Right before you know it, you will commence viewing them enter the subsequent phase: cooperative play!

Do not fear if they start associative play, but also at times still parallel or solitary play. It is completely ordinary for little ones to continue distinctive levels of enjoy all through their childhood.

Recall, each and every boy or girl develops at their possess speed, and some are more unwilling to be a part of in, and that is ok far too. Enable your little one space, time, and help to flourish!

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