The impact of preschoolers' gender and sensory preferences on physical activity levels during play

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Introduction: This study examined the differences between boys and girls in relation to activity levels during play and sensory preferences for activity level, body position and movement. A review of the literature revealed no evidence to explain if boys and girls prefer different body positions while playing or if body position might be used to measure their activity levels.

Method: This retrospective study used data from demographic forms, children's Sensory Profiles and observations of children's play in classroom settings. The sample consisted of 53 typically developing children between ages 3-5 years from a suburban preschool in Kansas in the United States.

Results: Analysis of data from play observations revealed no significant differences between boys and girls in relation to body position mean (p = 0.33), body position standard deviation (p = 0.19) and total number of change position times (p = 0.28). Analysis of data from children's Sensory Profiles showed no significant differences (p = 0.97) between boys' and girls' seeking preferences reflected by activity level, body position and movement items in the Sensory Profile.

Conclusion: Future research should investigate children's play in outdoor playgrounds and implement more rigorous methods in rating activity levels.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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