• Symbolic play;
  • nonsymbloic play;
  • play assessment;
  • language deveopment

The play and language development of 171 toddlers was examined at 14 and 18 months by observing their activities on the symbolic Play Test and by assessing their language skills using the the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventories (MCDI) and the Reynell Developmental Language Scales. Additionally, data from the Bayley Scales of Infant Development and the MCDI were obtained at 24 months, in order to investigate how play and language measures taken at 14 and 18 months predict children’s development at the age of 2 years. The results showed that the vocabulary production and symbolic play of the 14-month-old toddlers made a unique contribution to their language and cognitive skills at the age of 2 years, while at 18 months only language variables made a similar contribution. Other-directed pretense discriminaated between the children’s subsequent language and cognitive skills best, whereas nonsymbolic play had no independent predicitive contribution. Significant gender differences were found in the use of nonsymbolic and symbolic play acts already at 14 months. Gender did not, however, contribute to the prediciton of the children’s subsequent skill’s whereas maternal education significantly added to the prediction of the 2-year-olds’ maximum sentence length and that of their cognitive development.