Play Development Milestones

0 – 3 Months 3 – 6 Months 6 – 9 Months 9 – 12 Months
0 – 3 Months
  • Long spells of staring vacantly at large masses (windows, walls)
  • Hands predominately closed. No reaching to grasp objects
  • If hand is touched, either clenches or opens
  • Reacts to paper or cloth on face
  • Raises head when prone
  • Will grasp object when placed in hand
  • Reaches for object but misses (3 months)
3 – 6 Months
  • Raises head and chest when prone
  • Puts objects in mouth
  • Watches hands
  • Plays actively when propped in play area 10-15 minutes
  • Looks intently at and shakes rattle
  • On visual cue, free hand comes towards but doesn’t grasp rattle.
  • Pays attention to cube on table
  • May detect a tiny pellet
  • Generally inspects surroundings
  • Smiles, fingers mirror image
  • Increases activity at sight of toy
  • Words for toy out of reach
  • Exploitative in string play
  • Head control established in midline
  • Bangs with object held in hand
  • Transfers object form one hand to another
  • Rolls over – both ways
6 – 9 Months
  • Grasps dangling objects
  • Explores toy with fingers and mouth
  • Hitching present
  • Will bounce when supported in standing position
  • Sits without support
  • Uses pincer grasp to pick up small object
  • Drinks form cup
  • Eyes and hands function in close interaction
  • Imitates arm movements
  • Bangs spoon on table
  • Pull self to standing position
  • Craws – on belly
9 – 12 Months
  • Squeezes doll to make it squeak
  • Regards and pokes clapper of bell (beginning cause/effect)
  • Deliberately drops toys and watches them fall
  • Plays ball with another person
  • Still brings objects to mouth – uses tongue more
  • Puts objects in and takes them out of large container (beginning awareness of in/out)
  • Places one block after another on table (prerequisite to counting)
  • Responds to music
  • Holds crayon – imitates scribble
  • Takes a few steps with help
  • Can bring one object momentarily above another (emerging awareness of spatial concept – precedes block stacking)
  • Stack rings on pegs
  • Throw objects intentionally
1 – 1½ Years 1 ½ – 2 Years 2- 2 ½ Years 2½- 3 Years
1 – 1½ Years
  • Solitary or onlooker play – self play
  • Continual walking activities
  • Begins running- still and awkward
  • Scribbles spontaneous with crayons
  • Can remove mittens, socks, hat, unzips zipper
  • Puts objects in and out of container
  • Can figure out ways of overcoming some obstacles (opening doors, reaching high places)
  • Imitates many things (sweeping, combing hair – self use)
  • Pulls toys, carries or hugs dolls, teddy bear
  • Very rapid shifts in attention – especially expressed by gross motor skills
1 ½ – 2 Years
  • Parallel play – plays near others but not with them
  • Talks to self as he/she plays
  • Little social give and take – little interest in what others say or do but hugs, pushes, pulls, snatches, grabs, defends rights by pulling hair and kicking
  • Does not ask for help
  • Procrastinates
  • Strings beads
  • Transports blocks in a wagon rather than just building
  • Relates action to object or another person – washes, feeds, combs doll in addition to self
  • Likes to play with flexible materials such as clay, pat, pinches, and fingers
  • Less rapid shifts in attention
2- 2 ½ Years
  • Parallel play predominates
  • Arranges doll furniture into meaningful groups and uses doll figures to act out simple themes from own experience
  • Aligns three or more cubes to make train; pushes train
  • Builds tower of six to seven blocks
  • Imitates drawing of vertical line
  • Sequences related action in play such as preparing food for doll, feeding it, wiping its mouth
2½- 3 Years
  • Dramatization and imagination begin to enter play (make believe and pretend)
  • Beginning interest in cooperative play – plays with others in small groups
  • Interest in combining play things
  • Is willing to wait his/her turn
  • Will put toys away with some supervision
  • Watches cartoons on TV
  • Names own drawing
  • Builds tower of nine blocks
  • Puts together four-part nesting toy
  • Stacks five or more rings on a peg in order of size
  • Draws horizontal line in imitation
  • Imitates drawing a circle
3- 3 ½ Years 3 ½ – 4 Years 4- 4 ½ Years 4½- 5 Years
3- 3 ½ Years
  • Builds bridge from model
  • Cooperative play begins
  • Organizes doll furniture accurately and begins to use in genuinely imaginative ways
  • Draws two or more strokes for a cross-on imitation
  • Beginning to share
  • Reenacts experienced events such as birthday party, baking cookies
  • Uses one object to represent another (stick = phone or fence)
3 ½ – 4 Years
  • Increase in dramatization of play
  • Complicated ideas but unable to carry out in detail; no carryover from day to day
  • Prefers to play in group of two to three children; chooses companion of own sex
  • Suggests turns, but often bossy in directing others
  • Often silly in play and may do things wrong purposely
  • Puts toys aware
  • Likes to dress up
  • Draws a human with two parts. Adds three parts to incomplete human
  • Builds structures/buildings with blocks
  • Assumes the role of another person in play (becomes a teacher, animal, parent)
4- 4 ½ Years
  • Make cube gate from model
  • Identifies parts missing in two pictures
  • Shows off dramatically
  • Copies square
  • Much self-praise
  • Uses dolls and puppets to act out scripts
  • Good imaginative play
4½- 5 Years
  • Likes cutting out and pasting
  • Likes working on projects – may carry over from day to day
  • Definite interest in finishing what he/she starts
  • Plays in groups of two to five – friendships becoming stronger
  • Spurred on by rivalry in activity – competition
  • Interested in going on excursions
  • Draws unmistakable human with body, arms, legs, feet, nose and eyes
  • Adds seven parts to incomplete human
  • Copies a triangle
  • Watches life situation programs on TV – gains information from verbal contents (60 months)
5- 6 Years 6 – 7 Years
5- 6 Years
  • Copies drawing of rectangle with diagonals in middle
  • Copies drawing of diamond
  • Draws human with heck, fingers, clothes, and two dimensional legs
  • Adds nine parts to incomplete human
  • May start collections
  • Able to play games by rules
  • Builds elaborate things with blocks
  • Plans many sequences of pretend event – uses props and language to develop a theme (going on a trip into outer space)
6- 7 Years
  • Obsessive play interests – mania for games, funny books
  • Can s0pend hours at one activity
  • Plays alone better than at 6 years
  • Groups play similar to 6 year old’s with less ability to pretend and more to provide necessary paraphernalia
  • Demands more realism
  • Doesn’t branch out on many novel adventures
  • Better at planning actions
  • Beginning of inventing and designing
  • Strong return to cutting out and coloring
  • Fond of table games
  • Predominant dramatization of experiences and stories
  • Likes stunts: gymnastics, tumbling

From: Speech and Language Development Chart (2nd Ed.) by Addy Gard, Leslea Gilman, and Jim Gorman (Pro-Ed).