We’ve gathered 40 of the finest quotes about our favourite subject –  play! Read on and be inspired by these insights about what children (and us ‘adults’) get so engrossed in.

The more you consider ‘play’ the more interesting it becomes, as discussed in our recent blog ‘What is Play?‘. These play quotes offer inspiring insights into play and its beneficial effects on human development.


1. “Children engage in [free] play because they enjoy it – it’s self-directed. They do not play for rewards; they enjoy the doing, not the end result. Once they get bored, they go on to do something else – and continue to learn and grow.” – Sheila G. Flaxman

 2. “The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.” – Brian Sutton-Smith

 3. “Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humor.” – Stuart Brown, MD

 4. “In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

 5. “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

 6. “The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.” – Erik H. Erikson

 7. “If we love our children and want them to thrive, we must allow them more time and opportunity to play, not less. Yet policymakers and powerful philanthropists are continuing to push us in the opposite directio— toward more schooling, more testing, more adult direction of children, and less opportunity for free play.” – Dr. Peter Gray

 8. “Fun does not come in sizes” – Bart Simpson

 9. “It’s not so much what children learn through play, but what they won’t learn if we don’t give them the chance to play. Many functional skills like literacy and arithmetic can be learned either through play or through instruction – the issue is the amount of stress on the child. However, many coping skills like compassion, self-regulation, self-confidence, the habit of active engagement, and the motivation to learn and be literate cannot be instructed. They can only be learned through self-directed experience (i.e. play). – Susan J. Oliver

 10. “Play builds the kind of free-and-easy, try-it-out, do-it-yourself character that our future needs.” – James L. Hymes Jr.

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11. “Maturity consists in having rediscovered the seriousness one had as a child at play.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

12. “Men should learn to live with the same seriousness with which children play.” – Nietzsche (philosopher, writer)

13. “The highest form of research is essentially play.” – N. V. Scarfe

14. “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – F. Rogers

15. “The true object of all human life is play.” – G. K. Chesterton

16. “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” – F. Rogers

17. “Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” – Kay Redfield Jamison

18. “Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.” – Plato

19. “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.” – Carl Jung

20. “Sometimes people forget that play is learning and learning is play.”- Peter Dixon

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21. “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning…They have to play with what they know to be true in order to find out more, and then they can use what they learn in new forms of play.” – F. Rogers

22. “It is becoming increasingly clear through research on the brain, as well as in other areas of study, that childhood needs play. Play acts as a forward feed mechanism into courageous, creative, rigorous thinking in adulthood.” – Tina Bruce

23. “Playing should be fun! In our great eagerness to teach our children we studiously look for ‘educational’ toys, games with built-in lessons, books with a ‘message.’ Often these ‘tools’ are less interesting and stimulating than the child’s natural curiosity and playfulness. Play is by its very nature educational. And it should be pleasurable. When the fun goes out of play, most often so does the learning.” – Joanne E. Oppenheim

24. “Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” – Joseph Chilton Pearce

25. “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 Buscaglia

26. “For a small child there is no division between playing and learning; between the things he or she does ‘just for fun’ and things that are ‘educational.’ The child learns while living and any part of living that is enjoyable is also play.” – Penelope Leach

27. “We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing.” – Charles Schaefer

28. “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

29. “Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning.” – Diane Ackerman

30. “Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.” –  Abraham Maslow

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31. “Whoever wants to understand much must play much.” – Gottfried Benn

32. “Play is the exultation of the possible.” – Martin Buber

33. “Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good” – Lucia Capocchione

34. “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” – Mark Twain

35. “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw

36. “Play is the beginning of knowledge.” – George Dorsey

37. “Play is so integral to childhood that a child who does not have the opportunities to play is cut off from a major portion of childhood.” –Musselwhite

38. “Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father.” – Roger von Oech

39. “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

40. “Like all kids we not only fooled around with our toys, we changed them. If you’ve ever watched a child with a cardboard carton and a box of crayons create a spaceship with cool control panels, or listened to their improvised rules, such as ‘Red cars can jump all others,’ then you know that this impulse to make a toy do more is at the heart of innovative childhood play. It is also the essence of creativity.” – Bill Gates, talking about his first computer.