The role of play in child development is a source of ongoing interest and debate. In this book, renowned expert Peter Smith offers an expansive definition of the term "play", taking an in-depth look at its impact on children, as well as its adaptive value for birds and mammals, including primates. Using both contemporary and classic research, Smith examines how different age groups and sexes participate in a wide variety of play, including exercise and rough-and- tumble play, fantasy play and imaginary friends, and play with objects. The book gauges the function of play in early childhood education and makes the case for and against recess breaks in school. How play occurs in different societies and among various populations - including children with special needs - is also explored. With its comprehensive coverage of theoretical, historical, cross-cultural, and evolutionary perspectives, Children and Play holds significant insights for parents, educators, and clinicians.