Playgrounds

Play Spaces for Tweens and Teens
Many view playgrounds as spaces designed exclusively for toddlers and school-aged children and believe that by the time they become tweens (10-12 years), they have lost interest in playing outside. Research supports this and suggests that tweens and teens spend greater amounts of time engaged in indoor activities.
Slideboarding is Equal Parts Skill and Thrill - Aquatics International
WhiteWater West has figured out how to make water slides appeal to the video game generation. The waterpark attractions maker in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada recently unveiled a concept that combines arcade-style button mashing with splashing called Slideboarding.
The Healthy Playground Makeover Sweepstakes
The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation is committed to getting as many students as possible on fun, safe playgrounds. Every year, we partner with Discovery Education to sponsor the Healthy Playground Makeover Sweepstakes, a contest where schools nationwide can compete for a brand new playground from Playworld Systems, Inc.
Playground surfacing road map
I’m always surprised, when talking to recreation managers and buyers about surfacing, to hear them say, “it’s expensive, and doesn't really add any play or fun to the site, but it’s something we have to do.” There’s good news; surfacing can actually be very playful, and new technology and formulations are adding to that ability.
Personal Best - tech on the playground
Throughout my childhood we played pretty much everywhere including the streets. Much of our play was kid-generated games and “projects.” During my daughter’s childhood, play happened in vacant lots, creek beds, and backyards. Now my grandchildren play on “safe” playgrounds, and the older kids opt for skateboarding and dirt bikes. So it doesn’t...
Sensory gardens are outdoor spaces designed to stimulate the senses and increase awareness of the body. Why they are so important for physically and cognitively disabled kids (and their able bodied peers).
The Complicated Issue of Surfacing - Mara Kaplan
You cannot even begin to design an inclusive playground if you have not dealt with that most basic concept of ensuring that everyone can access your space. The number one barrier to a playground is surfacing. When I was traveling this summer, I saw many instances of non-maintained surfacing that impacted not only the accessibility of the...
The Periodic Table of 21st Century Play - by Laura Richardson
As we discussed in our last column, Laura Richardson’s insightful The Periodic Table of 21st Century Play poster can a powerful tool in the hands of designers and communities when they seek to create truly human and engaging places that support play. As an illustration of how this can work, I will use Laura’s 11 categories, which she refers to as...
The Pepper Family Accessible tree-house
“Imagine if you could create a world for your children, one that they would never forget...a magical tree house land filled with action, excitement and squeals of delight, a tree house, fueled by make-believe and the imagination of the young or a tree house inviting journeys to far-off lands, yet still safe to explore...Imagine that your children...
Children play on an Empower Playground
In rural areas where hundreds of students attend school, there’s little chance that the schools will receive power for decades. When the sun goes down nightly around 6 p.m., homework can’t be completed until the following day. There are no overhead lights, no illuminated computer screens, no lamps with cords running from the wall. This is where a...
Unleashed Guidebook by PlayCore
The Unleashed guidebook educates professionals, individuals, and communities on how they can advocate for off-leash dog parks. The guidebook provides information on the value and benefits of these spaces, the design considerations associated with dog parks, and planning and implementation strategies. Marketing and programming ideas are highlighted...
An outdoor apparatus designed for seniors was unveiled at Carbide Park in Galveston County, Texas, on August 14, 2014. (@GalvCoTX/Twitter)
The label is “playground,” the apparatus is bright and shiny, but those using the well-cushioned space in east Texas are elderly people trying to loosen stiff joints at a park designed just for them. Galveston County, which has a large population of elderly residents, this week opened what is billed as the only playground in Texas for senior...
Noah's Playground for Everyone entrance
As part of my Midwestern summer road trip, I stopped at Noah’s Playground for Everyone in Evanston, IL. Evanston is the home of Northwestern University and is just north of Chicago. The origins of this playground are similar to many inclusive playgrounds; it was built in memory of a young boy.
Fun Four Square Variations for All Players - Playworks
Four Square is by far my favorite playground game, but it takes a lot agility to be really elite. Sometimes, a few players can come to dominate the normal Four Square game leaving others in line discouraged and frustrated. After years of practice, here are some of the best, field-tested Four Square modifiers that can help level the playing field...
What makes a great playground survey
Delving into what may be the most intransigent subject in the play industry, I decided to investigate public opinion on what truly makes a great playground. Rather than rely solely on industry or education based opinions, I also took the question to the public. The results were somewhat surprising, although what wasn’t surprising was that the...
The Zona de Juego in Houston, Texas (Community Design Resource Center)
Some cities, designers, and child-health advocates think they have a solution to the childhood obesity problem—at least a small part of a solution. And the best news for cash-strapped schools and governments is that the solution is cheap. In the language of playground design, "ground markings" are shapes, pictures, or games drawn onto the surfaces...
Joseph Straus, 6, rides a zip line at the Berkeley Adventure Playground, where kids can "play wild" in a half-acre park that has a junkyard feel. David Gilkey/NPR
"It's not adults doing work; it's kids doing work!" That could almost be the motto for the Adventure Playground. This half-acre of dirt and quirky chaos hugging the Berkeley Marina on San Francisco Bay is ranked among the most innovative and creative places for kids to play in the U.S. It's got a semi-orderly, beachside junkyard feel. Nothing...
Musical Playground
Edgar Castellan and I have been having a conversation about musical placemaking. We’d like to build a musical instrument playground, with large instruments that are easy to play, and can be played by several people at once. So you could just walk in, play, and learn — like the boy playing the ground marimba in the picture below.
(Photo courtesy of Commercial Recreation Specialists)
They're bubbling up from Texas to Minnesota and from coast to coast as complements to traditional dry playgrounds and existing pools, as well as stand-alone aquatics amenities replacing traditional pools altogether. For many municipalities, both urban and suburban, splash pads offer a simpler, more affordable aquatics recreation alternative.
Inclusive Playgrounds - Then and Now
Last week, I went on a road trip with my daughter through the Midwest visiting college campuses. Along the way we also visited different playgrounds in Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, and Indiana. We were busy. When we got to Michigan, I realized that I had not been there for 10 years. The last time I was in Michigan, I was working...

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