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What it measures:

Measures the concept of playfulness by assessing 4 elements considered to contribute to the construct of playfulness: perception of control, freedom from constraints of reality, source of motivation, and ability to give and read social cues.1 It is used as an outcome measure in intervention research. ToP has been modified throughout the process of its development.

Target Population:

Children aged 6 months to 18 years.

Conditions & Test Variations Included in this Summary:

This summary contains information on use of this test in patients or clients aged 6 months to 18 years whose playfulness is of concern. (2) It has been used with children with cerebral palsy, global developmental delay, spina bifida, hemiplegia, and various genetic disorders. (3) It has also been used with children with autism. (4) This test has undergone multiple revisions and updates throughout the years, and the version used in each study will be provided in this summary, if known.

It is recommended that this test be used by a trained person; can be used within any play context.

Revisions to ToP have been made to more accurately reflect the construct of playfulness; multiple versions of the Test of Playfulness are reported in the literature and vary primarily by the number of items rated during the observation.

Clinical Insights

  • Continuing to use 15-minute observation periods in the clinic is supported because using an extended time period (such as 30 minutes) did not show greater test-retest reliability or allow for more items on ToP protocol to be observed. Also, the longer the time of observation, the less feasible it is to use in the clinic and children may become more fatigued. (9)
  • The amount of playfulness expressed by a child may be affected by changing the environment in which the child is playing. (7,8)
  • Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or diagnosis, all children become more interactive with one another after playing in their communities. This gives them the chance to not only play with other children, but also have bonding time with their families and caregivers. (11)
  • ToP is more suited for children with disabilities than the CPS since atypically developing children were included in its development and because of the individual item fitting. Therefore, it could be more useful for this population. (4)


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