blog article

playground design: ideas to add variety


Gone Are the Days of a Couple of Slides

Gone are the days of playground design that only incorporates a couple of slides, swings and some monkey bars.  Today’s child is a discriminating one, and when they go to the park, school, church, or community center to play they expect something much more elaborate than what is in their own back yard.  In order to get their attention and keep them coming back to your facility over and over again, you need to raise your game.  Playground designers have created many different themes, colors, activities, and concepts for you to choose from.  And manufacturers of playground equipment have catalogs of choices.  Many can also create one-of-a-kind custom pieces just for your organization.  Here are a few fresh ideas to help you add unique variety into your playground design.

Include Art. We all know that art projects can get messy, so taking them outside and including art as a part of outdoor play is a natural choice and makes cleanup easier to manage for teachers and staff.  Creating art teaches children problem-solving and collaboration skills and being outside makes children more aware of the light, shadows, and weather.  Having a playground design with wide-open surroundings encourages them to express more freely and create “outside the box” compositions.  The Adventurous Child Playgrounds have developed a series of art-related playground equipment ideal for commercial environments.

Include Imaginative Play.  Imaginative play is the art of make believe.  Supporting pretend playing can be as simple as an outdoor kitchen and playhouse or as elaborate as a wooden train or half sunken ship.  Structure is the key to giving children something to pretend with.  One day the playhouse might be a house, the next day it might be a school or a movie theater.  With any transportation related structure, the children can pretend about where they are going or coming home from.  Pretend play teaches children about story telling, as they create and share the story about where they are going and what they are doing, they are learning how to develop story plots and characters.  Is this Pinecraft wooden train the Polar Express headed to the north pole, or is it venturing out west into Indian country?  Maybe it’s coming home from Africa!

playground design, playground train, imaginative play


Include Music.  Play time is meant for exploration and music exploration is an important part of a child’s cognitive, academic, communication, social interaction, and motor skills.  Memorizing the alphabet through song is how most of us learned it.  Dancing to rhythm emphasizes the freedom of expression, patterns and spatial awareness. Landscape structures has created a line of outdoor musical instruments, Rhapsody Outdoor Musical Instruments  to include music into outdoor environments that will be able to withstand the elements.

 Slides, swings, and monkey bars are great but not all children want to participate in the same traditional outdoor playground activities every day.  Adding a variety of playground design activities such as art, music, and imaginative play will engage all types of personalities, moods, and expressions of free play.  Out in the fresh air and sunshine, they will be able to express themselves freely and let their imaginations thrive.

The brands and companies referenced in this article have not sponsored us in any way, we just like their ideas and think they are worth sharing.

For more playground inspiration, check out the following projects;

Chesterbrook Academy, Aldie, VA

Primrose School at Colorado Station, Denver, CO

Primrose School of Buckhead, Atlanta, GA

Primrose School at S. Tampa, Tampa, FL

Merryhill School, Sacramento, CA

Carrington Academy, Alpharetta, GA