Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Date of this Version

October 2005


Published in Cross-Cultural Research, Vol. 34 No. 4, November 2000 318–338. Copyright © 2000 Sage Publications, Inc.


A qualitative and quantitative reanalysis of the Six Cultures data on children’s play, collected in the 1950s, was performed to revisit worlds of childhood during a time when sample communities were more isolated from mass markets and media than they are today. A count was performed of children aged 3 to 10 in each community sample scored as engaging in creative-constructive play, fantasy play, role play, and games with rules. Children from Nyansongo and Khalapur scored lowest overall, those from Tarong and Juxtlahuaca scored intermediate, and those from Taira and Orchard Town scored highest. Cultural norms and opportunities determined how the kinds of play were stimulated by the physical and social environments (e.g., whether adults encouraged work versus play, whether children had freedom for exploration and motivation to practice adult roles through play, and whether the environment provided easy access to models and materials for creative and constructive play).