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