Schools Improvement Net reader and eco-friendly playground manufacturer Tom Reynolds of Monster Play has put together the following thoughts and suggestions on how to make a playground fun and stimulating for children as well as safe…
It’s great to know children have safe environments to play in but the problem is that for kids, safe means boring. Many playgrounds might look great but in reality they are not a lot of fun to play in. Knowing how to create a fun playground that’s also safe takes a bit of imagination and careful planning.
Creating Imaginative Play Areas
Children love to play imaginary games which need to be encouraged in a playground environment. Imaginative play helps children develop the necessary key life skills which in turn mean they develop creativity skills too. If kids are given elements and play equipment that allows them to play their imaginary games, they’ll look forward to being in the playgrounds that much more.
Playground settings need to be as natural as possible which is why many designers include plants and shrubs around them and in them. Not only do plants enhance the appearance of a playground but they offer children a little bit of responsibility, which is to look after them. Children should be encouraged to tend the plants by watering them when it needs doing.
Playgrounds need to have a lot of play props which includes things like hoops, balls, outdoor toys, buckets and spades as well as watering cans. The toys need to be readily available for kids to use when they want to mess around with them. Another great idea is to provide an area within a playground where children can draw things. It could be on a chalk or a white board, it could even be on the ground or pavement within the play area, and it’s a great way of getting children involved helping them to develop their creative skills.
Playground Elements That Stimulate a Child’s Mind
Playgrounds need to have elements in them that kids can move around and build new things out of. This is a very useful way of keeping kids interested; especially when they play in an area they have grown to know well, it adds a new dimension to it which kids love. Natural elements and materials are always nice to have in play areas, and should include a grass area, a sand pit and a small, safe area with some water. Kids love to mess around with ropes so if they are installed in the playground on certain elements, it encourages children to have fun using them – pretending to be pirates or whatever else they want to be – it adds that element of danger that children adore without being dangerous at all.
Children of all ages, whether younger or older, love feeling a sense of adventure combines with a little danger in the things they do. Children need to experience this so they learn their limits and recognise things that could be dangerous; it’s all part of the learning curve. With this said, fun playgrounds should be slightly challenging so children get their balance and develop good co-ordination. Swings and slides are great for this type of self-education and so are elements kids can climb up. Another great way to challenge their co-ordination and balance is to have logs and stepping stones in a playground area.
Elements in a playground should stimulate a child’s imagination and the best way is to include some open-ended ones which the children can finish themselves. A simple plastic sheet placed over a branch becomes a hideout for kids – in fact they can let their imaginations run wild if they are allowed to providing they have the right sort of play equipment to hand.
Another great way of challenging children is by offering problem solving things to play with. This type of play stimulates their cognitive skills as well as offering them the chance to solve problems in a fun way which is a superb way of preparing them for adulthood.
Play time is an important social experience for a child which means it has to be fun but educational too. As such playgrounds need to be stimulating, with fun elements to play on. But they also need to offer kids a little bit of a challenge – otherwise the play area is boring where children don’t want to be. The more equipment play areas have does not necessarily mean they are fun areas because it’s the sort of elements that count not the number. Knowing how to create a fun playground means working out what children enjoy most and then including the elements in the design.
This guest post is written by Tom Reynolds of eco-friendly play equipment manufacturer Monster Play
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