7 Principles for Playground Design
Have you ever thought about what goes into the design of those playground structures we see at schools, parks and even in the backyards of residential living facilities and churches. There are seven (7) principles that designers consider when designing and manufacturing effective playgrounds.
1. Fun Playgrounds Need to Also be Safe: Safety is the most important key when it comes to children but making a playground as safe as possible is more difficult than it sounds. These factors must be considered:
- Location of the playground, accounting for dangerous traffic or pollution and the possibility of adult supervision.
- Age-appropriate activities, toddlers versus elementary aged children.
- All materials and sizing must meet area regulations, through knowledge of local and federal codes and the means to adhere to them.
- Plan against playground deterioration that could pose a hazard over time.
2. Natural Settings Should be Enhanced by a Playground: The best playgrounds find a way to make the most of its location. In a rural setting, local plants can be placed to surround the playground or local materials can be used within the playground.In an urban area, a playground may be built with sleek materials that complement the cityscapes.
3. Playgrounds Need to Engage all Senses: A good playground should assist in engaging a child on all sensory levels.
4. Changes for Kids: Children need opportunities to test their capabilities in physical activity. this means areas to rough house and climb, as well as places to play sports and other organized games.
5. Playgrounds Serve as Community Structures: Good playgrounds are designed in such a way that they can be used by multiple children in order to help develop their social and communication skills.
6. Design Should Consider the Environment: Though meeting the needs of children is a top priority, some designers choose to use sustainable materials such as recycled plastic or untreated wood.
7. Playgrounds Should Change as Children do: The best playground recognize the specific needs of both toddlers and kindergarteners. Play options should be offered for multiple age groups and long-lasting playgrounds incorporate activities for various learning levels.
There is always more to a playground than what you see at first sight. A lot of hard work goes into making sure playground are safe, educational, and considerate to the environment.
6 Key Topics of Playground Design
Incorporating a great playground at your school or park involves combining ideas to create a single, integrated space that kids will enjoy and that will also aid in their development. Keeping the following six topics in mind will help make this happen.
1. The Importance of Free Play: With so many after school activities, such as soccer, gymnastics, music lessons, clubs, baseball, craft classes, computer games, DVDs and the endless amount of channels on TV, where exactly does the playground fit in? When children play together without adult intervention they become more spontaneous and creative. Organized activities such as the ones listed above do not provide the opportunity to pretend or allow for children to express themselves freely. Playgrounds serve as a means of free play.
2. Child’s Play: The best way to make sure your playground promotes free play is to adjust your perspective. Determine which piece of equipment develops which skills.
- Rockers increase balance.
- Swings help with balance and coordination.
- Horizontal ladders build upper body strength and coordination.
3. Ask the Kids: Playgrounds tend to mean more to children when they are involved in the design process. Unfortunately, it has become common place to see playground pieces that seemed exciting to adults but get little attention from the kids. Don’t be afraid to ask kids to draw pictures of how they would want their playground to look. Sometimes their imagination can get the best of them and their ideas are too extreme to implement but other times, there are often things that can be included in the design.
4. Accessible and Inclusive: According to recent law, new playgrounds must be made accessible to children with handicaps. Likewise, if your school or park is renovating an existing playground, the same law applies. Recent trends show that playground aren’t just being made handicap accessible but also inclusive.
5. The Ups and the Downs: According to recent studies, falls to the surface below a playground structure cause 70% of all playground injuries. Now there is growing recognition that providing a variety of levels plays an important role in a child’s development.
6. Safety is Always the First Step: Playground safety has increased dramatically over the years and it isn’t a passive issue. It is one that the manufacturer keeps in mind and the school doesn’t need to worry about. While the surfacing and the equipment may provide a safe play environment, it is also imperative that proper supervision is provided. Lack of or inappropriate supervision has been the cause of approximately 40% of all playground injuries.