Project Play is a research project at Northeastern University focused on developments in play, given the importance of play activities for young children. A major goal is the creation of the professional version of the Developmental Play Assessment (DPA-P) for determining a child’s progress in play.

Infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their parents/caregivers; teachers/service providers – those who work with young children

We are currently recruiting children from 8 months to 60 months of age developing with delays or disabilities, children 42 months to 60 months developing typically, and their parents or caregivers. Team members conduct the observations in the home or at the children’s day program or school. Observations consist of a 30 minute sample of the child playing with our toys, which is videotaped for later analysis. Observations include an evaluation of the child’s developmental level, using brief screening tests, in addition to some questions about the child, family, and activities at home.

We also are recruiting individuals who work with young children to take our online training program about children’s play. These personnel will learn to use the DPA-P for determining a child’s progress in play, and they will work with team members to collect play observations using the DPA-P.

Learn How to Participate

Determining progress in play for children with delays and disabilities

Play is an important and natural activity that young children use to learn about their worlds. Children with delays and disabilities often have delays in play and have difficulty learning to play. The Developmental Play Assessment-Professional (DPA-P) was created to measure how young children are developing in their play activities to help teachers and service providers to identify activities that will help children learn to play more and at more advanced levels.

The DPA-P was initially developed as a research tool and was found promising for use in identifying and working with children who have delays in play. The current project is focused on revising the instrument into a user-friendly version for determining a child’s progress in play. For this purpose, we are collecting play observations from children from 8 months to 60 months of age – children who are developing with delays and children who are developing typically – and comparing the videotaped research version with the user-friendly version that is administered in real time as children play.

Learn More

Project Play is Funded By:

National Center for Special Educational Research


Department of Education