Tag Archives: playground safety

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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 Planning: Include These “7 Zones” To Create a Balanced Playground Environment

Before choosing the actual layout for your playground, it’s helpful to have an overall plan or design for the placement of furnishings.  You will want to organize the space in a way that will promote physical and social play while minimizing conflicts.  The following is called the zoned approach and was outlined in Esbenson in his book “The Early Childhood Playground: An Outdoor Classroom”. Similar to the way a classroom is arranged  into specific areas or centers, small groupings of functionally separate outdoor play areas called zones can enrich children’s interaction with the equipment, nature, adults, and one another.  Instead of having one large, central structure that attempts to provide a variety of experiences and activities for children, each zone includes several smaller, related activities and pieces of equipment. This allows more active play areas to be separated from areas that involve less noisy creative of manipulative activities and can help minimize the tendency for louder, bigger boys to dominate a play structure.
Esbenson outlines seven distinct zones:

1. Transition zone: The area between your building and the playground or between different play zones.  This area allows children time  and space to decide where they want to go as they enter the playground.  This can include open space, or seating areas. Items to consider: picnic tables and benches, Shade Structures, Picnic Shelters, Bleachers. Continue reading

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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14 Layout Solutions for your Playground Design

Bonded Rubber Playground Surfacing1. Organize zones to facilitate play and minimize conflicts, e.g. locate quiet play areas away from active spaces

2. Provide areas that encourage group interaction as well as places from solitary and partner play

3. Avoid putting high-activity zones close to transitional zones

4. Locate compatible play zones close together, e.g. creative play and social play can be placed adjacent

5. Design all play zones for child-initiated activity

6. Locate play areas for toddler and areas involving quiet, creative activities near the entry to building

7. Use low, natural partitions and different surfacing materials to define zones, i.e. EWF hardwood fibers around swings, and pour-in-place rubber surfacing around the playsystem

8. Use space wisely, leaving some areas open. Cluttered playground detracts from children’s explorations and cause injuries

9. Plan zones to take advantage of any prominent or unusual elements, e.g. physical area around a sloped designed for running

10. Be sure that equipment landscaping do not interfere with visual supervision. Adults must have a clear line-of-sight

11. Retain as many existing trees, shrubs, and other landscaping as possible.

12. Locate equipment away from dumpsters, heavy traffic and loud noises. Plant trees or build fences and visual barriers to block nuisances.

13. Make sure site is accessible for maintenance and emergency equipment

14. Use your imagination. Paint stones, create a mural, make hand prints in cement. Cue children through the color, shape and type of materials that this is their place to play.

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

If you’re looking for a fundraising partner or program, don’t forget to review the Fundraising Resources pages on the top right tab.  If you are located in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, or North Carolina and would like assistance with designing your playground,  please contact us at www.korkat.com

Playground Maintenance: 10 Things you Better Not Overlook

Playground Safety: 10 Maintenance Check Points on your Playground

  1. Make sure surfaces around playground equipment have at least 9″ of loose-fill rubber, 9″ of certified EWF (Engineered Wood Fiber), 12″ of un-tested wood mulch; or include mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials.
  2. Check that protective surfacing extends at least 6 feet in all directions from play equipment. For swings, be sure surfacing extends; in back and front; twice the height of the suspending bar.
  3. Make sure play structures more than 30 inches high are spaced at least 9 feet apart.
  4. Check for dangerous hardware, like open “S” hooks or protruding bolt ends. These can catch on clothing such as hoodies, or loose clothes.
  5. Make sure spaces that could trap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs, measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
  6. Check for sharp points or edges in equipment.
  7. Look out for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.
  8. Make sure elevated surfaces, like platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls and the climbers have no more than a 15″ space to access/exit.
  9. Check playgrounds regularly to see that equipment and surfacing are in good condition
  10. Carefully supervise children on playgrounds to make sure they’re safe.

Above all, make sure your equipment is age-appropriate in  design.  Kids will challenge and regulate themselves during free play, and you’ll find that your “safe” low level platforms and climbers are being used inappropriately by older kids that aren’t being stimulated.

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 public playground project in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, or North Carolina and would like design advice, please contact us.