This is an action research with the purpose of exploring the meaning of children’s playing experiences. Play is a part of every day life and an indispensable right of a child, as well as one of the significant factors affecting growth of the child. However, playing activities in many early childhood settings are conducted in normatively planned and constructed formats. Thus, 40 children of age 4 were observed while engaging in “real” plays, and their teachers were interviewed. The results of the study indicated that children’s “real” play was formed in unstructured space, in unstructured time, and with unstructured toys. The meanings of their experiences in free play were shown as interactive relationship and inventive play. Implications of these findings for emphasizing the developmental effects of free play, and for facilitating children’s play were discussed.


play, free play, real play, action research