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Published: November, 2013
Children's play areas are a fascinating place, one that is often viewed entirely differently through the eyes of a child. Gone is the arbitrary collection of items that we perceive, the rather odd shapes and patterns of a typical play area; replaced with the full force of a confluent stream of vibrantly bubbling, bursting and billowing imagination.
The landscape is far from a neatly arranged area of greenery; it serves as a panoramic landscape of space, it’s the winding and claustrophobic, impossible depth of a jungle, it’s a race track that plays home to the world’s fastest cars. Put simply, it’s the centre stage. If you’re involved in the design of such an area, you’re going to want to make sure it panders to a child’s want to explore, imagine and create, and with that, here are a few things you should consider when putting together your plans!
Adult supervision is something many consider an integral component of the best activities for kids. It allows them to do things they wouldn’t otherwise be trusted to. It ensures their safety whilst allowing them to have fun. One thing is does also though, is restrict them. The cognitive activity, the levels of social interaction and the effervescing, boundless limits of the imagination are unleashed thoroughly when kids play together, without the potential intervention of an adult. This is where playgrounds provide something that other activities cannot; freedom of expression. Is your playground designed to accommodate this level of activity?
The landscape upon which you provide the kids a place to play can be engineered to help them develop a specific set of skills. Many manufacturers will explain exactly what their piece of playground equipment develops, but it’s always worth having a range of ideas in mind, and attempting to attain a good, broad balance. Whilst swings and rockers help build balance, co-ordination and stability; jungle-rings, ladders and climbing walls help to build upper body strength and motor skills. Most of all, keep it interesting and fun, think of it practically, as opposed to what they’ll do on paper!
If possible, why not get the kids themselves involved? It’s difficult to see things through a child’s eyes at the best of times, and sometimes things we think are interesting and fun, simply aren’t. Kids will deliver some of the most creative and thoughtful designs, whilst the engagement levels you’ll get from involving them in something so dramatic will be huge.
Far from the constraints of the ordinary playground, when you start adding landscaping ideas into the area, a tarmac hill for example, or a raised, grassy area, anywhere that adds height and dynamic to the plane, will create a more diverse playground. Make it neat and tidy but ensuring a range of perspectives and differing vistas are on offer will help children cognitively understand how things work. Whilst there’s a lot of controversy regarding safety measures for playgrounds involving height, it’s been proven that a flat area will inhibit some aspects of a child’s learning potential in a park environment.
Lastly then, what does every kid want to play with at the moment. With classic playground fodder never going out of fashion, here’s a quick list of pieces to look out for when you’re shopping around!
Make sure to tick off all these elements in your playground as you build and design a hive of activity for your children!