Collection overview

The collaborating sites in PLAY perform a variety of roles (see people for details). Each site that performs a collecting role is pre-assigned to complete all of the collecting functions (see in blue below). This page contains detailed help for the data collection and upload process. Click here for information about participant recruitment .

All videos that are collected with go through a quality assurance process in which the PLAY team will ensure that the videos are eligible to be included in the final sample. Videos that pass QA will then be passed on for coding. Videos that don’t pass QA will be (depending on why they didn’t) reused for other purposes or will be sent back to the collection site for modification. In some cases, the collection site might be provided additional training.

Participant Recruitment

There is a parent-oriented website at (also see Spanish version) where parents can find more information about the project and sign up to participate. PLAY staff will transmit interested parents’ information to the appropriate site.

1. Scheduling visit

To schedule a visit, you will be making two phone calls to each family: the initial recruiting call and the confirmation call (if the family agrees to participate). Depending on the availability of the mother, you will complete the participant paperwork

1.1 Initial recruiting phone call (option 1/3)

1.2 Initial recruiting voicemail (Option 2/3)

If you reach the family’s voicemail, please leave the following message:

1.3 Initial recruiting email (Option 3/3)

If you will be contacting the family over email, you may use the following template:

2. Establishing visit details

Once you have connected with the family and decided on a visit date, please send the following email to establish the visit details:

3. Confirming a visit (day before the visit)

3.1 Confirmation phone call (Option 1/2)

3.2 Confirmation voicemail (option 2/2)

If you reach the family’s voicemail, please leave the following message:

3.3 Confirmation email

If you have the family’s email address, it is always advisable to send a confirmation email. You may use the following templates:

4. Preparing for Visit

4.1 Pack

Participant payment Flash cards
Answer scales in English & Spanish Paper backups of all questionnaires and forms

4.2 Prepare

  1. Take your own water with you. For the duration of the visit, you will decline any offerings of food or drink.
  2. Take your university ID with you, be prepared to show it if asked.
  3. Dress plainly, modestly, neutrally. Nothing too bright and attractive to children. Try not to wear all black either :)
  4. Avoid strong perfumes and noisy jewelry. The idea is to blend into the background as much as possible.
  5. Be prepared to plan your bathroom breaks around the visit (it will be approx 2.5 hrs long).

Home Visit

Now that you have set your target participant sample and completed all the steps listed in the recruitment process, these instructions will help you prepare for your participant home visit.

Please ensure that you are currently logged in at Databrary to view protected content in this webpage. For confidentiality reasons, access to video exemplars is restricted to researchers with authorized access to Databrary. To register for access, visit

At the end of every home visit (for each participant), you will upload the following:

  1. exactly 4 videos (to your Databrary repository)
      - One-hour naturalistic play (include: decibel measure, shoes if child is wearing them in the house)
      - House walk-through (include: measurements of each room, sleeping arrangements, clothing, books, toys, shoes if child is barefoot)
      - 5-min structured play (focus on child and mom, even if they leave mat area)
      - Questionnaires (set up camera on tripod, focus on mom)
  2. exactly 1 decibel meter file (to your Databrary repository)
  3. exactly 3 questionnaire files (through the KoBo Toolbox app)
      - demographics questionnaire
      - home visit questionnaire
      - post-visit notes

1. Arrival introduction

Note: Experimenters should always act in a professional and respectful manner when interacting with the participants and while in the home. Do not make comments or react to anything in front of the mom to make her feel uncomfortable. All families should feel that their participation in the study is meaningful.

Say: Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m visiting from [INSTITUTION]. Thanks for letting us come to your home today!
    Hola, mi nombre es [NAME] y vengo de [INSTITUTION]. ¡Gracias por recibirnos hoy en su hogar!

  • Ask if you should take your shoes off.
  • Ask for good place (i.e. out of child’s reach) to put backpack and coat.
  • Do not leave the tripod and other equipment lying around.
  • Do not engage or warm up to the baby. Just need to make mom feel comfortable.

3. One-hour natural play video & noise measurement

3.1 Decibel Meter

Say: We would like to measure the environmental noise levels. Is there a good place where I can put this measuring device where your child cannot reach? The tablet only measures the environmental noise levels and not what you’re actually saying.
    Queremos medir los niveles de ruido ambiental. ¿Hay algún lugar donde pueda colocar este dispositivo donde su hijo/a no lo pueda alcanzar? La tableta solo mide el ruido ambiental y no lo que usted está diciendo.

  • Set up tablet, put in microphone.
  • Ensure that “Audio Tool” is force closed.
  • Place device in the most central place in the home (e.g., living room).
  • The microphone should be facing towards the room (e.g., away from walls) and propped up on the tablet case so that it is not lying flat against the surface of the space.

3.2 One-Hour Natural Play Video

General Recording Guidelines

  • Aim to get 60 minutes of uninterrupted natural play recoding, in addition to the time you take to give instructions, record the decibel meter and shoes.
  • Keep camera on the child at all times. Specifically, ensure that the child’s whole body is visible on camera. If mom is in frame, capture as much of her body as possible without compromising the view of the child.
  • Record in front or to the side of the child as much as possible.
  • Do not zoom in.
  • Always try to stay toward the edge of rooms and doorways. You do not want to influence child to interact with you, or get in child’s way.
  • Remain at as far a distance as possible (~3 to 5 m, hugging the wall) so that the child is not distracted by your presence.
  • Try not to interact with the child or make eye contact with the child. Just watch through the viewfinder of the camera.
  • If mom asks to pause the camera, ask for permission to point the camera away so you can continue recording audio.

Say: So I’m going to start recording now.
    Voy a empezar a grabar ahora.

Begin recording and say: For the next hour, do anything you would typically do as if I weren’t here. Try to ignore me as much as possible and I will stay out of the way. I will also try not to respond to you and [CHILD] so that he/she is not distracted. You can go anywhere in your home but we just ask you to remain indoors. You can play together or not, you can do chores, watch TV, talk on the phone, give him/her a bath or snack. The idea is to capture what your typical day is like. And as a reminder, I’m just here to record so you will be in charge of [CHILD]’s safety.
    En la próxima hora, haga cualquier cosa que usted haría típicamente si yo no estuviera aquí. Intente ignorarme lo más posible y yo me mantendré fuera de su camino. También intentaré no responderle a usted o a [CHILD] para no distraerlo/la. Puede ir a cualquier lugar en su hogar, solo pedimos que se mantenga adentro. Pueden jugar juntos o no, puede hacer los quehaceres, ver televisión, hablar por teléfono, darle un baño o una merienda a [CHILD]. La idea es capturar su día típico. Le recuerdo que solo estoy aquí para grabar y usted está a cargo de la seguridad de [CHILD].

Point camera at the tablet while opening “Audio Tool” (the application immediately starts recording noise levels upon startup).

After opening the app, quickly point the camera at the child and start timing for the one-hour natural play video. Note the time on the viewfinder of the camera and record for an additional 60 minutes.

Note: The instructions and tablet set up should take no longer than 5-minutes.

At the end of the one-hour recording, say: Great, we are done with the one-hour recording! ¡Excelente, hemos terminado la grabación de una hora!

With camera in hand (and still recording), walk over to where the tablet was placed, and hit the “save” button on “Audio Tool”.

  • If child was wearing shoes during the recording, say Could I get a close-up of the shoes [CHILD] has been wearing? ¿Puedo grabar más de cerca los zapatos que [CHILD] tiene puestos? . Ask mom to remove the shoes, video-record the shoes after the session; take them off child and video the bottom, side, and top views. Focus the camera on the shoes and comment on shoe type, sole (hard, soft), heel (if any), and other observations.
  • If the child was not wearing shoes during the one-hour natural play video, record the shoes during the house walk-through.

Then stop video recording on the camera. Now that the camera is off, name the audio file with the site name and subject number (e.g. NYU_001) and close the “Audio Tool” app.

4. Video House Walk-through while measuring rooms

Start recording and say: Now, we would like to see the space that [CHILD] gets to explore throughout the day. Please walk me through your home as I follow with a camera, and take measurements of the spaces. As we walk around, please show me where you keep any objects — toys, books, sippy cups, anything like that — that [CHILD] might interact with regularly. Please show me where you keep his/her clothes and shoes to give us an idea of the kinds of things he/she wears.
    Ahora nos gustaría ver el espacio que [CHILD] tiene para explorar durante el día. Por favor guíeme por su hogar mientras la sigo con una cámara y tomo medidas de los espacios. Mientras recorremos su hogar, por favor muéstreme donde guarda cualquier objeto- juguetes, libros, vasitos, cualquiera de las cosas con que [CHILD] interactúa regularmente. Por favor muéstreme donde guarda la ropa y los zapatos de él/ella para tener una idea de las cosas que él/ella viste.

Ensure that all of experimenter’s personal items, recording equipment, yoga mat and toys for structured play are stored out of sight.

Video capture tips:

  • Watch recording through viewfinder to ensure that the view is not blurry or shaky
  • Move the camera slowly and walk slowly
  • A clear and steady view, free of blurriness and shakiness, is necessary for detailed coding of the home environment
  • The laser measure device does not work against reflective surfaces (mirrors, glass walls, etc), so point to a non-reflective surface or measure from the reflective surface towards the opposite direction.

About room measurements:

  • You will measure all rooms in the house while you do the video walkthrough
  • A room is any space used by someone on a regular basis - bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, basements - they don’t need to have windows
  • A room has to have a clear demarcation (e.g., a wall or an entry). A space is considered to be a room if it has a minimum of 3 walls.
  • If the room has a short divider (e.g., when a kitchen and a living room are divided by a counter), count as one big room and measure accordingly.


  1. Start at the entrance of the home.
  2. Pause at the entrance of each room.
  3. Audibly name the room by its function (e.g., This is where [CHILD] sleeps).
  4. First, get as much of the Entire Room in frame as possible. Keep the camera zoomed out and make sure to capture the ceiling and the floor of the room.
  5. Next, pan the camera SLOWLY from Left to Right.
  6. Then, pan the camera to Floor, name the different types of surfaces in the space (hardwood, plush carpet, thin rug, linoleum, tile, etc.), and then pan to the Ceiling.
  7. Ask parent if child spends time in each room: Does [CHILD] spend any time in this room? ¿[CHILD] pasa algo de tiempo en este cuarto?
  8. Ask parent about child’s objects in the room: Do you keep anything for [CHILD] in this room? (If yes) Would you mind showing me? ¿Guarda algo para [CHILD] en este cuarto? (If yes) ¿Me lo puede mostarar por favor?
  9. Ensure during the house walkthrough that the parent provides information on all of the following:
    • Children’s Sleeping Arrangements. Please show me where [CHILD] typically sleeps. Por favor muéstreme donde [CHILD] duerme típicamente.
    • Child’s Clothes. Please show me where you keep [CHILD]’s clothes. Por favor muéstreme donde guarda la ropa de [CHILD].
    • Child’s Shoes. Please show me where you keep [CHILD]’s shoes. Por favor muéstreme donde guarda los zapatos de [CHILD].
    • Child’s Books. Please show me where you keep [CHILD]’s books. Por favor muéstreme donde guarda los libros de [CHILD].
    • Child’s Toys. Please show me where you keep [CHILD]’s toys. Por favor muéstreme donde guarda los juguetes de [CHILD].
  10. Film the Location of the storage space (drawer, toy chest, cabinet) in clear context of the rest of the room. Then, SLOWLY and CLEARLY film the Contents of the storage space to show what is inside of it, zooming in if needed. (Overhead view for bed, crib, drawers, toy chest, etc.; Zoomed in side view for cabinet, closet, bookshelf, etc.)
  11. Hold the camera in one hand while you take measurements of the room using the other.
    • Turn measure on by pressing ON/DIST button. Make sure the laser beam is visible.
    • Measure wall to wall, lengthwise and widthwise.
    • If a room has an odd or asymmetrical shape (i.e., any shape other than a rectangle or a square), measure the largest rectangle or square area of the room.
    • Place the base of the laser flat on the wall, push ON/DIST againt to send the beam across the room (avoid moldings, door castings, reflective surfaces)
    • Repeat the above for the second dimension (length or width)
    • Focus camera on laser measure for each measure and read numbers out loud with units (e.g. eight point five feet)
  12. Do ** NOT ** turn off the camera when walking to next room.
  13. Walk SLOWLY.
  14. When all rooms are recorded, walk back to the entrance of the home and then stop recording.

FAQs about House Walk-through

5. Five-minute Structured Mother-Child Play

Say: Now I would like you to play with your child for about 5 minutes with these toys. We always clean these toys before and after each visit. I have a mat that I’m going to ask you to sit on. Where’s a good place for me to put it?
    Ahora le pediré que por favor juegue con su hijo/a durante unos 5 minutos con estos juguetes. Siempre limpiamos los juguetes antes y después de cada visita. Tengo una estera/alfombra en la cual le voy a pedir que se siente. ¿Dónde es un buen lugar para ponerla?

Place the mat on a clearing on the floor.

Start recording and say: Please sit next to [CHILD] on this mat. I’ll give you a set of toys. Please play with [CHILD] however you like for 5 minutes.
    Por favor siéntese al lado de [CHILD] en esta estera/alfombra. Le daré unos juguetes. Por favor juegue con [CHILD] por 5 minutos como usted quiera.

  • If the child is playing with a different toy before the recording, ask mom if she can put the toy away.
  • Hand tote bag with toys to mom. Quickly point the camera at the child and mom and note the time on the viewfinder. Record for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Record so that the child and mother’s entire bodies - faces, eyes, and hands - are captured. If child stands up, make sure to capture the feet. If you are in a position from which you cannot capture the full face and both eyes, position yourself to capture a profile view.
  • If child and mom are separated at any point, focus camera on child.
  • Use timer on camera to time engagement.
  • After 5 minutes, say “Great job! We can now move on to the questionnaires.”
  • If the child is still playing with the toys after 5 minutes, let the child play and continue on to the questionnaires.

FAQs about House Structured Play

6. Questionnaires

6.1 Setting up for Questionnaires

  • Position yourself in front of mom, with the paperwork between you.
  • Set up the tripod to capture both you and mom. You will need to change the battery on the camera to ensure sufficient power.
  • Give mom a copy of the colored answer scales.
  • Give mom a copy of MCDI and Rothbart so that she can follow along when needed.

6.2 Questionnaires

All questionnaires should be administered in the primary language of the mom.

You will fill out all questionnaires on your computer or your tablet using the Kobotoolbox app. Here are the 8 questionnaires you will use, in the following order:

Questionnaire When to use
Demographic Questionnaire Before Home Visit
(Over the phone with mom)
Home questions:
- Language (MCDI)
- Health
- Temperament (Rothbart)
- Locomotor Milestones
- Media Use
- Pets
- Division of labor
- Typical Day
During Home Visit
(In person with mom)
Post-visit notes After Home Visit
(Experimenter alone)

You will administer all the questionnaires online using the KoBo Toolbox application. Links to all the questionnaires can be found in the tables below (please click on the icon to go to the live KoBo Toolbox questionnaires online). In case of technical issues (and to have a paper copy of all questionnaires during home visits), please download the pdf version () of the questionnaires from below. For printing, each of the above forms are bundled into sets for different age and language combinations. (Please note that presentation and format will differ from the Kobotoolbox app.)

Age Language
Demographic questionnaire
(all ages)
Home questionnaire:
12 months
Monolingual English
Bilingual (English instructions)
Bilingüe (Instrucciones en Español)
Home questionnaire:
18 months
Monolingual English
Bilingual  (English instructions)
Bilingüe (Instrucciones en Español)
Home questionnaire:
24 months
Monolingual English
Bilingual (English instructions)
Bilingüe (Instrucciones en Español)
Post-Visit Notes
(all ages)

6.3 Permission to share - signing Databrary form

  • Be sure to continue video recording while signing the Databrary form.
  • Say: The data that we collected today is incredibly valuable for researchers. We are asking for your permission to upload the videos to a secure online data library where only authorized researchers have access. There are two levels of permission – the first level is if you allow us to share the video with other researchers and the second level is for researchers to be able to show excerpts and images in presentations and conferences. This is a form that explains everything I just said. Because both you and [CHILD] were on the video, Please check ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for each level for yourself and for [CHILD] and sign.
        Datos como estos son increíblemente valiosos para investigadores. Le estamos pidiendo permiso para subir los videos a una biblioteca segura de datos en línea a la cual solo tienen acceso investigadores autorizados. Hay dos niveles de permisos – el primer nivel es para darnos permiso para compartir los videos con otros investigadores y el segundo nivel es para dar permiso para que investigadores puedan usar porciones o imágenes en presentaciones y conferencias. Este formulario explica todo lo que le he dicho. Ya que usted y [CHILD] están en el video, por favor marque ‘si’ o ‘no’ para cada nivel para usted y para [CHILD] y luego firme.
  • When finished, give mom a moment to look over each form and sign them.
  • Make sure to get mom’s signature on the appropriate fields of the Databrary release form

FAQs about Questionnaires

7. Visit wrap-up

  • Give mom the payment
  • Ensure that mom has copies of the consent and Databrary forms
  • Collect and pack all equipment and paperwork from the house
  • Thank mom for letting us come to her home!

8. Full PLAY home visit protocol - example

Here is a video of the full PLAY home visit protocol.

NOTE: This participant was not the only child in the home, so would not meet inclusion criteria for PLAY.

Post Visit notes, Clean up, and Upload

After each visit, when you arrive back at your lab, complete all the following steps on the day you collected the data or on the very next day.

  1. Submit home questionnaires.
    • Open the completed questionnaire on the tablet and hit the submit button. Tablet must be connected to wifi.
  2. Complete and submit PLAY Post-Visit Notes
  3. Upload all videos from the visit to Databrary onto your university’s PLAY volume.
    Use the naming convention for each of the four videos. Use your 5 letter code for SITE. Use 3 digits for subject number (###).
    • Name the session as: PLAY_SITE_###
    • Name the Natural Play video as: PLAY_SITE_###_NaturalPlay
    • Name the House Walkthrough video as: PLAY_SITE_###_HouseWalkthrough
    • Name the Structured Play video as: PLAY_SITE_###_StructuredPlay
    • Name the Questionnaires video as: PLAY_SITE_###_Questionnaires
  4. Select appropriate release level for session in Databrary.
  5. Make sure that all fields on Databrary are filled out.
    If visit is excluded mark as:
    • Pilot
    • Atypical
    • Out of age range
    • Cancelled (if visit was cancelled)
    • Experimental error (equipment malfunction)
    • Incomplete
  6. Submit decibel data.
    • Please access the decibel app file on your tablet (located in the “AudioTool” folder in the File Manager). Select the decibel file from this home visit session.
    • Select “Share with Save to Drive”, navigate to the audio file folder for your site (e.g., ‘audio_NYUNI’) and drop your file in that location.
    • Name the file as follows: PLAY_SITE_###
  7. Fill out form to submit session for quality assurance.
  8. Clean equipment.
    • Wash all toys and equipment thoroughly.
    • Wipe down yoga mat.
    • Once videos have been uploaded, delete all videos from SD card.
    • Make sure to put away all equipment to have ready for a next visit.

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