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Play Quotes

Page history last edited by Gail Matthews-DeNatale 14 years, 3 months ago

Play Quotes


Pages in this wiki:

Home, Play Theories, Designing for Play-Based Learning, Bib/Webography, Quotes



The following quotes are culled from the Strong National Museum of Play and other miscellanous places.


Librarians at the 2007 ALA play Dance Dance Revolution

It is a happy talent to know how to play. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

American writer



Life must be lived as play.


Greek philosopher

427-347 BCE


There's a good case to be made that having fun is a key evolutionary advantage right next to opposable thumbs in terms of importance.  Without that little chemical twist in our brains that makes us enjoy learning new things, we might be more like the sharks and ants of the world.

Ralph Koster

Game Designer

Dates Unknown



In our play we reveal what kind of people we are.


Roman poet

43 BCE-17


Play is our brain's favorite way of learning.

Diane Ackerman

Contemporary American author


Culture arises and unfolds in and as play.

Johan Huizinga

Dutch historian



Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.

Abraham Maslow

American psychologist



Whoever wants to understand much must play much.

Gottfried Benn

German physician



Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.

Joseph Chilton Pearce

Contemporary American scholar


The true object of all human life is play.

G. K. Chesterton

British author



Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.

Fred Rogers

American television personality



A child loves his play, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.

Benjamin Spock

American pediatrician



Play fosters belonging and encourages cooperation.

Stuart Brown, M.D.

Contemporary American psychiatrist


Play has been man’s most useful preoccupation.

Frank Caplan

Contemporary American author


To the art of working well a civilized race would add the art of playing well.

George Santayana

American philosopher



People tend to forget that play is serious.

David Hockney

Contemporary British painter


Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.

Kay Redfield Jamison

Contemporary American professor of psychiatry


Do not…keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.


Greek philosopher

427-347 BCE


Deep meaning lies often in childish play.

Johann Friedrich von Schiller

German poet



Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.


Greek philosopher

535-475 BCE


Surely all God’s people…like to play.

John Muir

American naturalist



Children at play are not playing about. Their games should be seen as their most serious minded activity.

Michel de Montaigne

French essayist



Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father.

Roger von Oech

Contemporary American creativity guru


Play keeps us fit physically and mentally.

Stuart Brown, M.D.

Contemporary American psychiatrist


You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.


Greek philosopher

427-347 BCE


The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.

Carl Jung

Swiss psychoanalyst



In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior. In play it is as though he were a head taller than himself.

Lev Vygotsky

Russian psychologist



Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.

Henri Matisse

French painter



The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.

Brian Sutton-Smith

Contemporary American folklorist


Play is training for the unexpected.

Marc Bekoff

Contemporary American biologist


Creative play is like a spring that bubbles up from deep within a child.

Joan Almon

Contemporary American educator


Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.

O. Fred Donaldson

Contemporary American martial arts master


Human beings need pleasure the way they need vitamins.

Lionel Tiger

Contemporary Canadian anthropologist


Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humor.

Stuart Brown, M.D.

Contemporary American psychiatrist


When children pretend, they’re using their imaginations to move beyond the bounds of reality. A stick can be a magic wand. A sock can be a puppet. A small child can be a superhero.

Fred Rogers

American children’s television host



The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable.

Carl Jung

Swiss psychoanalyst



In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.

Friedrich Nietzsche

German philosopher



Play is hard to maintain as you get older. You get less playful. You shouldn’t, of course.

Richard Feynman

American physicist



Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.

Michael Jordan

American basketball player


Children have always learned and created places for themselves through play.

Donna R. Barnes

Contemporary American psychologist


There is for many a poverty of play.

D.W. Winnicott

British pediatrician



Play allows us to develop alternatives to violence and despair; it helps us learn perseverance and gain optimism.

Stuart Brown M.D.

Contemporary American psychiatrist


The very existence of youth is due in part to the necessity for play; the animal does not play because he is young, he has a period of youth because he must play.

Karl Groos

German evolutionary biologist



If you want to be creative, stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society.

Jean Piaget

Swiss philosopher



A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him.

Pablo Neruda

Chilean poet



I believe that those boys who take part in rough, hard play outside of school will not find any need for horse-play in school.

Theodore Roosevelt

American president



It is in playing, and only in playing, that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.

D.W. Winnicott

British pediatrician



Now in myth and ritual the great instinctive forces of civilized life have their origin: law and order, commerce and profit, craft and art, poetry, wisdom and science. All are rooted in the primeval soil of play.

Johan Huizing

a Dutch historian1872-1945


The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.

Erik H. Erikson

American psychoanalyst



Ritual grew up in sacred play; poetry was born in play and nourished on play; music and dancing were pure play.... We have to conclude, therefore, that civilization is, in its earliest phases, played. It does not come from play...it arises in and as play, and never leaves it.

Johan Huizing

a Dutch historian1872-1945


We all need empty hours in our lives or we will have no time to create or dream.

Robert Coles

Contemporary American child psychologist


The child amidst his baubles is learning the action of light, motion, gravity, muscular force….

Ralph Waldo Emerson

American writer



So, in all these spheres—in painting, sculpture, drawing, music, singing, dancing, gymnastics, games, sports, writing and speech—we can carry on to our heart’s content, all through our long lives, complex and specialized forms of exploration and experiment.

Desmond Morris

Contemporary British zoologist


Play, while it cannot change the external realities of children’s lives, can be a vehicle for children to explore and enjoy their differences and similarities and to create, even for a brief time, a more just world where everyone is an equal and valued participant.

Patricia G. Ramsey

Contemporary American educational psychologist


As astronauts and space travelers children puzzle over the future; as dinosaurs and princesses they unearth the past. As weather reporters and restaurant workers they make sense of reality; as monsters and gremlins they make sense of the unreal.

Gretchen Owocki

Contemporary American early childhood educator


Pausing to listen to an airplane in the sky, stooping to watch a ladybug on a plant, sitting on a rock to watch the waves crash over the quayside – children have their own agendas and timescales. As they find out more about their world and their place in it; they work hard not to let adults hurry them. We need to hear their voices.

Cathy Nutbrown

Contemporary British educational theorist


You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.

Plato quotes (Ancient Greek Philosopher. 428 BC-348 BC)


Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.

Joseph Chilton Pearce (Child Development Author)


It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.

Leo F. Buscaglia quotes (Education Specialist, 1924-1998)


If animals play, this is because play is useful in the struggle for survival; because play practices and so perfects the skills needed in adult life.

Susanna Miller


Play is the exultation of the possible.

Martin Buber (German Philosopher, 1878-1965)


Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.

Heraclitus (Greek Philosopher, circa 535–475 BCE)


 We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.

George Bernard Shaw (Playwright, 1856-1960)

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