Tag Archives: planning guide

Building Church Playgrounds for Congregation & Community

Church PlaygroundsBuilding a church playground has many benefits. It offers a sense of stability for its members by investing in a fun, safe place for children to play. Church playgrounds offer a visible location for children to gather before and after services and keeps them away from parking areas or roadways. An attractive play space draws families looking for a new church home and offers an opportunity to reach out to others through church-led events that reach out to the community.

Use of the play space should be the first consideration when planning for a church playground. Will the playground be used before and after services or as a part of church day care or school programs? This is key in determining how many children and what age groups will be using the playground. Refer to our Playground Planning Guide for additional details.

Church Playground EquipmentLocation, location, location! The playground should be positioned on the church grounds so it makes the most impact. A visible playground invites families to visit the church and encourages the community to participate in outreach activities. Making use of natural elements on the property (such as trees or boulders) can make the play space even more appealing. The church playground equipment itself can be themed or brightly colored to create a whimsical play space or incorporate interesting lines and colors that match the architecture of the church building. If the church is located in a downtown area or historical district, check the local building codes to make sure there are no restrictions regarding height of equipment, bright colors, shade structures, etc.

The best way to begin planning for playground equipment is start from the ground up. Check for adequate drainage, so that the new playground does not become a bog after heavy rain. Gather information on the different types of safety surfacing and choose which one is best for the play space. Remember, some types of surfacing, such a poured in place rubber, require sub-bases that increase cost. Loose fill surfacing can be installed over a layer of geo textile cloth to prevent weed growth at a lower rate than solid playground surfacing, but a containment system will be needed to keep the surfacing within the borders of the play space.

Select equipment and activities to create a balanced play environment. Transitional areas between buildings and play zones allow children to decide how and where they want to play. Zones for creative and imaginative play, social and dramatic play, physical play, and interaction with natural elements are key to a well-rounded environment. A balanced play environment encourages children to engage in active play and healthy social interaction on the playground. Examples of playground components include:

  • Merry Go Round (merry-go-round)- Most available in stand-up dozen w/up to 3-4 children
  • Seesaw (See-saw)– Either spring-mounted, or fulcrum based with soft impact cushion underneath
  • Monkey Bars (overhead ladder)– If kids under 5 years of age, must be <60″ tall w/access ladders, otherwise <84″ tall w/ladder over 5-years of age
  • Playstructure– Composite playsystem with multiple modular climbing, sliding, interactive components
  • Swingsets (multi-bay, multi-access swings)- Infant seats, Belt seats, or Tire Swings

Will the playground be a community build project (built by church volunteers) or built by certified playground installers? A community build is a great way to reduce the overall cost of a playground project. Organize a weekend for volunteers to pitch to build the new equipment. Few playgrounds are built in one day, so allow a few days to complete construction. Also, volunteers need to supply tools, heavy equipment (such as an auger), concrete, ladders, wheelbarrows and other items depending on the equipment being built. Other volunteers can provide beverages, snacks and childcare during the community build. Follow up with the volunteers regularly prior to the build to date to ensure everyone arrives with the necessary supplies on the big day. Having a playground installed by a certified installer takes away the worry of ensuring the equipment installed to meet safety standards and manufacturer’s specifications. A certified installer can stream-line the installation process, taking stress off of the project leader and completing the project (in some cases) in less time than a community build. Refer to the Community Build Guide

Now that the new playground is completed, invite church members and the community to come outside and play!

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Playground Planning: The Definitive Guide to Planning a Commercial Playground for Your Church, School, Daycare, Neighborhood, or Public Park

playground equipment postingWhether it’s a church playground, school playground, daycare, or a neighborhood public park, each outdoor playground requires significant planning to maximize your funds.  Playground planning should recognize that each playground experience is unique to each child, and each commercial playground is unique in its site features, layout, design components, and visual appeal.  Also See 14 Layout Considerations for Your Playground.  The cycle consists of the following:

Community: Playground Planning: top

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How To Compare Playground Designs

Comparing your playground designs

Be sure your playground incorporates as many play experiences as possible.  Remember, it isn’t always the number of play events that are on a play structure that make it a good value, but the value of the play itself.

Comparing your playground equipmentAs an example, let’s compare Playground A vs.  Playground B

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Playground Equipment and Autism- The Sensory Rich Playground for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Young children learn by using all of their senses, so your playground should offer as many experiences as possible. For kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder, this need for balance can be extreme. The more sensory experiences, the more is learned and gained during development.  The playground should include the following sensory areas:

Visual:top

girl_playingColor and Varying Elevations: Adults tend to look at the functional aspect of playgrounds that includes the natural coloration and a traditional theme.  Ofttimes, the natural looking playground is aesthetic for the adult rather than the child.  It’s rare that the typical child-oriented environment consists of typical natural coloration, i.e. beige, green, brown.  More likely, a playground with a variety of shapes, colors, and forms will offer the most stimulation and improve spatial perception.

Vestibular:top
The vestibular system consists of small, liquid-filled tubes in the inner ear and is important in maintaining a child’s sense of balance.  The movement of liquid through these canals produces stimulation of the nervous system. Sensory experiences change every time the head moves in a different direction or at a different speed; this explains children’s great enjoyment of whirling, spinning, swing, or being tossed in the air.   During the first years, children’s vestibular systems are very receptive to even small amount s of stimulation, and slight variations in speed and direction have a substantial effect on balance.  The vestibular system works with the senses of touch and vision as well as sensations from the joints and muscles to help children orient themselves in space.  When children go down a slide, for example, they both feel and see themselves moving downward through space.  by about the age of 8, the sensory-motor development of children is well established.

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8 Important Planning Considerations for your Playground Design

Good playground design involves balancing your children’s needs, volume, age distribution, developmental aspects, and site conditions. Assess your present space by drawing a rough diagram. Include the seasonal aspects of your layout including sunlight, wind direction, snow/ice/rain. Observe the following:

  • type and amount of natural materials
  • small vs. large space
  • topographical features, e.g. steep slopes, trees, rocks
  • shared spaces with other age groups
  • shaded area–either hard shelter or shade structure

You’ll need assess the following site conditions:

1. Measure your site and scale to your drawing. Triangulate your area be placing flags that will act as your measuring points, e.g. pt A, pt B, pt C. You’ll then be able to take effective measurements as triangles. Once you have all sides to a triangle, e.g. A to B to C, you’ll be able to calculate your area. The site can be split into rectangles, triangles and circles as you place your flags.

2. Identify all existing elements on the site: paths, trees, shrubs, fencing, buildings, large rocks, drainage, and swales.

3. Identify the plants and trees present and check that are all nontoxic

4. Note any areas affected by the sun, shade, wind, rain, and snow

5. Locate any underground services, such as sewer, water and gas. Any overhead power or phone lines? Any overhanging roof or tree branches?

6. Indicate any natural slopes or valleys

7. Identify any drainage problems

8. Determine if there’s a connection to water for play activities

Operational aspects:

In addition to overall environment, address the folloiwing:

* How will it be financed?

* What are the zoning requirements? What permits are needed?

* Determine the best source for evaluating, and ordering equipment and materials. KorKat can assist with the initial design and specifications for obtaining quotations.

* Consider your installation method–self-install, community build, turn-key installation

* Who will do landscaping and initial site preparation?

The following was adapted from Tracy Theemes’ “Let’s Go Outside! Designing the Early Childhood Playground”

Don’t forget to reference the Fundraising Resources page on the top right tab, for products and resource to help you with your playground fundraiser.  If you are planning a playground in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, or North Carolina and would like additional advice as to making the most of an existing budget, please contact us at www.korkat.com

Playground Safety in Georgia, What Do You Need to Know?

While the national safety standards for playground equipment as established by ASTM and CPSC are still considered as “voluntary standards”, each state may have its own criteria. The Childinjurylawyerblog has a great summary of Georgia daycare center playground rules and regulations.

You can download the Georgia Daycare Center Playground Area Standards here. The outdoor play area requirements begin on page 3.

Here’s a reference to an evaluation of Georgia daycare center playgrounds that likely led to the adoption of these facility standards. Atlanta playground hazards in childcare centers

Georgia does not recognize a national standard for playground equipment, according to the National Program of Playground Safety.  They’ve included a list of State Regulations for Playground Safety Standards.

In addition, the Georgia Construction Industry Licensing Board does not license general contractors or specialty contractors such as playground contractors. In order to do business in this state, you will need to contact the local city or county where work is to be performed. Website: http://www.sos.state.ga.us./plb/construct/

For a Licensing Requirements for Contractors In Your State.

Your best solution is to find a reputable vendor, design consultant, and installer that is NPSI certified.  The equipment should also be IPEMA certified, and the design and access should all meet ADAAG (accessibility standards).  If you are planning a playground in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky or North Carolina and would like assistance, please contact us at .

Don’t forget to reference the Fundraising Resources page on the top right tab, for products and resource to help you with your playground fundraiser.

Playground Design – What you Should Know

Playground Design-What you Should Know

Good playground design involves balancing your children’s needs, volume, age distribution, developmental aspects, and site conditions. Assess your present space by drawing a rough diagram. Include the seasonal aspects of your layout including sunlight, wind direction, snow/ice/rain. Observe the following:

  • type and amount of natural materials
  • small vs. large space
  • topographical features, e.g. steep slopes, trees, rocks
  • shared spaces with other age groups
  • shaded area–either hard shelter or shade structure

You’ll need assess the following site conditions:

1. Measure your site and scale to your drawing. Triangulate your area be placing flags that will act as your measuring points, e.g. pt A, pt B, pt C. You’ll then be able to take effective measurements as triangles. Once you have all sides to a triangle, e.g. A to B to C, you’ll be able to calculate the area for your playground. The site can be split into rectangles, triangles and circles as you place your flags.

2. Identify all existing elements on the site: paths, trees, shrubs, fencing, buildings, large rocks, drainage, and swales.

3. Identify the plants and trees present and check that are all nontoxic

4. Note any areas affected by the sun, shade, wind, rain, and snow

5. Locate any underground services, such as sewer, water and gas. Any overhead power or phone lines? Any overhanging roof or tree branches?

6. Indicate any natural slopes or valleys

7. Identify any drainage problems

8. Determine if there’s a connection to water for play activities

Operational aspects:

In addition to overall environment, address the folloiwing:

* How will it be financed?

* What are the zoning requirements? What permits are needed?

* Determine the best source for evaluating, and ordering equipment and materials. KorKat can assist with the initial design and specifications for obtaining quotations.

* Consider your installation method–self-install, community build, turn-key installation

* Who will do landscaping and initial site preparation?

The following was adapted from Tracy Theemes’ “Let’s Go Outside! Designing the Early Childhood Playground”

Don’t forget to reference the Fundraising Resources page, for products and resource to help you with your playground fundraiser.  If you are planning a playground in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, or North Carolina and would like additional advice as to making the most of an existing budget, please contact us at www.korkat.com