Play has many different meanings to different people. When we talk about free play we mean:
Freely chosen, personally directed, intrinsically motivated behaviour that actively engages the child. It is performed for no external goal or reward, and is a fundamental and integral part of healthy development – not only for individual children, but also for the society in which we live.
Play can cover anything from children exploring outdoor spaces to making up new games or finding ways to express themselves. It can be carried out alone or with others; indoors or outdoors.
For children, play generally means some form of physical, creative or imaginative activity where there is no "right way" or "wrong way" to do things and where they take the lead in what happens and how games develop. Possibly most importantly, the play environment is not an adult-led one and children themselves lead what happens.