Play keeps your brain healthy, creates joy, and leads to a more fulfilling life. Our friend Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, defined eight distinct “play personalities” that you can cultivate in your own life and share with children to build lasting connections. Identifying the play personalities of the children can help you plan activities that keep every single child engaged. Remember, play doesn’t have to be reserved just for children. Play is for everyone! Keep reading to discover your play personality and some potential activities for every personality!

The collector

The collector is someone who enjoys collecting interesting things or experiences and adding them to a collection. They will also be someone who enjoys being organized and tidy.

Play ideas for a collector:

    • Collect items or experiences you treasure
    • Add new pieces to your collection.
    • Share your collection with your friends

The competitor

If you’re someone who needs a competition with rules and plays to win, you’re the definition of a competitor. Whether it’s a board game, sport, or social game, the competitor has an ambitious spirit and enjoys playing with a purpose.

Play ideas for a competitor:

    • Play games
    • Set goals or objectives for themselves
    • Watch games or sports

The creator

The creator loves activities that involve creativity or art. This is an innovative person who finds joy in making new things or coming up with original ideas. This person is extremely tactile and loves turning ideas into tangible things by using their hands.

Play ideas for a creator:

    • Arts and crafts
    • Take an art or photography class with friends/family
    • Observe art, either their own or others

The director

The director is a natural leader who loves to organize and oversee events or activities. This is also a very personable person who thrives in social environments.

Play ideas for a director:

    • Organize an event
    • Lead your group in an activity
    • Plan a trip or party

The explorer

This play personality is someone who loves to discover new things. Explorers do not necessarily have to physically go to new places to observe new things. Explorative play can also be intellectual, emotional, or relational, meaning it can expand their knowledge of a subject or person.

Play ideas for an explorer:

    • Experience new things and places
    • Research topics that interest you
    • Meet new people and learn about them

The joker

As you might expect, the joker is the class clown in the group. They relish the opportunity to make everyone laugh and spread joy.

Play ideas for a joker:

    • Spread joy through laughter
    • Practical jokes or pranks (safe ones, of course)
    • Watch comedies

The kinesthetic

The kinesthetic is ALWAYS in motion. This is someone who thrives on active play like dancing, sports, running, walking, and hiking. While the competitor play personality loves to win, the kinesthete doesn’t care whether they win or lose. They simply enjoy physical activities.

Play ideas for a kinesthetic:

    • Participate in physical activity or sport
    • Try a new activity like yoga, Pilates, or climbing

The storyteller

Storytellers possess many of the traits of other play personalities. This imaginative person loves going on adventures they dream up in their minds, learning new things from books or movies, and creating new

Play ideas for a storyteller:

    • Tell or write stories
    • Read, listen, or watch stories

A playful life is a healthy life. Most of us are a mix of play personalities and your play personality can evolve as you age. It’s worth planning activities that appeal to multiple play personalities. Whether you’re a joker or an explorer, an adult or a child, or everything in between, knowing your play personality will help you adjust your play experiences to better reflect your ministry’s needs.