Practical and conceptual aspects of children’s play in Hong Kong and German kindergartens

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This study examines the practical and conceptual dimensions of children’s play in German and Hong Kong Chinese kindergartens. German (n = 24) and Chinese (n = 24) children (3–6 years) were randomly selected and videotaped during their free play for 5 min continuously on five consecutive days. Play behavior was analyzed by adopting the Parten-Smilansky play scale. Ten teachers were interviewed to elicit their views on play, learning, and play arrangements. The findings indicate that a significant difference was found between all the play categories of Hong Kong and German children. The most frequent behavior in both contexts is non-playing behavior (Non-Play), which includes completing assignments and onlooker behavior. German children show a slightly higher level in the social and cognitive dimensions of play, compared with their Chinese counterparts. Moreover, there is an association between children’s play and teachers’ views on play and, to some degree, the curriculum foci. This comparative study has implications for the curricula currently under reform, based on consideration of whether play should be applied to or removed from the curriculum. Copyright © 2013 TACTYC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-66
JournalEarly Years: An International Research Journal
Issue number1
Early online dateAug 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Hong Kong


Wu, S. C. (2014). Practical and conceptual aspects of children’s play in Hong Kong and German kindergartens. Early Years: An International Research Journal, 34(1), 49-66.


  • Play
  • Curriculum
  • Beliefs
  • Chinese
  • German