Play is endless wonder and possibilities.

The world needs play.®

It transforms communities, encourages self-discovery, and unites us all. At Playworld, we know the true power of play, and it shows in our every action—from innovative, inclusive design and kid-testing to eco-friendly processes and customer service. We’re saving play . . . one playground at a time.

infiNET™

infiNET is a hybrid “netform” solution with dynamic climbing challenges and barrier-free platform nets.

Metal PlayCubes™

PlayCubes are back with an industrial new twist! Now available in metal, PlayCubes have been meticulously engineered to be ultra-tough and long lasting.

Unity® Connect

A playground focal point and destination where kids can meet and move.

Concerto

The Concerto line of outdoor musical equipment allows children of all abilities to experience the joy and benefits of making music.

Our commercial playground equipment is designed and built with you in mind, whether you’re introducing little ones to play for the first time or seeking a challenging system for experienced playground warriors.

Early Childhood

Early Childhood

Start them off right with products designed for young play explorers ages 5 and under.

School-Age

School-Age

Wield the power of play with brain-boosting, age-appropriate equipment for kids ages 5 to 12.

Fitness & Wellness

Fitness & Wellness

Develop healthy habits for life with outdoor fitness equipment designed for people ages 9 to 99.

Site Furnishings

Site Furnishings

Put the perfect finishing touches on your playground with benches, bike racks and tables.

Sale Products

Sale Products

Don’t let tight budgets hinder your path to play. Browse the best play products on sale now.

Stories of Play

We’re all about the stories—stories of family, stories of fun, and stories of play. Check out these stories from real Playworld playgrounds across the globe.

Hybrid System Shakes Tradition Body:

For nearly four decades, parks and schools have relied on a standardized view of playgrounds—one consisting mostly of post-and-platform style play structures. Despite attempts by play advocates and manufacturers to think outside the platform, it remains the most popular playground solution, primarily because of its integration with traditional components like slides and its ability to be accessible when ramps are added.

 

However, studies have shown that one of the key factors for the decline of playgrounds is a lack of challenging activity. The linear path and prescribed play of post-and-platform structures has grown stale and boring for many kids. While ramps and platforms are an accessible advantage for many, they tend to lose some of their appeal for another group of kids. The question everyone is left asking: can one play structure satisfy the needs and desires of every child?

A Design Journey

Playworld says yes! And we’ve set out on a journey to disrupt the status quo to create a “new norm” that offers more play value and more challenge for kids at every level. It might not be an easy road or a quick solution, but it’s something we have to do—something we truly believe in.

Our first step on this journey led to the creation of our latest product, infiNET™. This hybrid “netform” solution proposes a new topography of play that replaces traditional platforms and ramps with terraced net rings to increase the challenge and perceived risk. This design removes the barriers characteristic of post-and-platform structures and allows children to approach the system from all angles (up, over, under, and through), creating nearly infinite possibilities for play. Open sightlines enhance the aesthetic quality of these play structures, while making nets more inclusive/accessible so parents and caregivers can join in or assist kids when necessary. These wide expanses of net enable more children to play at once, promoting socialization and encouraging cooperation.

 

The Continuum of Challenge

Instead of creating a product with a black and white intention (either the child can do it too easily or they can’t at all), infiNET introduces a graduated approach. Depending upon the net configuration of the particular infiNET model, the structure can offer a continuum of challenge that lets kids push their personal limits a little bit at a time. Post-and-platform is binary—you’re either on the ground or six feet off of it. With infiNET, it’s the child’s choice; they can choose their own adventure.

 

There is play on every level, starting on the ground. Simply playing under the nets—looking up to peers, hanging underneath, exploring the intricate shadows—provides a rich experience post-and-platform structures do not always offer. On the smallest, horizontal transfer net, kids can test the waters or simply rest on the perforated steel stage. As they get bolder, they can venture up higher nets with or without assistance, following the red rope or resting on flex treads. For the highest challenge, a tightrope-style bridge pushes climbing skills to the extreme.

Portals at the edges of nets create a gateway to the play events. The portals link to traditional components, giving kids a fun way to access the ground or net zones. The portals also serve as a destination and a place to rest or think about your next steps. Additionally, smaller features like built-in Sensory Cues and Babble-On talk tubes are placed within ADA range of the support posts to elicit visual, tactile, and auditory investigation. In these ways, infiNET adds play value that is similar to post-and-platform systems.

 

Time for a Change

With fewer kids playing outside than ever before, we need to shake things up on the playground and make it an exciting place to be again! By creating play structures that challenge a variety of kids at their own level, we can ensure that nobody is bored and that everybody can play. It might seem impossible to please everyone, but we’ve seen a glimmer of hope with infiNET. The system makes an excellent substitution for post-and-platform structures on an inclusively designed play space because it offers a continuum of play—from ground level events and transfer-height horizontal nets to high, angled netforms and bridges. Because the nets are so expansive and the activities are not prescribed, these structures invite imaginations to go wild and invent new ways to play—and the more ways there are to play, the more kids we can accommodate and retain. While it can be an intimidating change to venture out of the norm of post-and-platform, we believe it’s vital to the mission of saving play. infiNET is just the first stop on that journey.

 

______________________________________________________________________________

See it in Person!

Want to see and experience the new topography of play for yourself? infiNET will make appearances at the NRPA Annual Conference (Booth #2627) in New Orleans on September 26 & 27, as well as the 2017 ASLA EXPO (Booth #1301) in Los Angeles on October 20-23. Stop by and let’s discuss the infinite possibilities for your play space!

 

To learn more about infiNET and see available predesigns, click here.

The post Hybrid System Shakes Tradition appeared first on Playworld® Blog.

Author: EME DEBUG --> Title: Hybrid System Shakes Tradition Body:

For nearly four decades, parks and schools have relied on a standardized view of playgrounds—one consisting mostly of post-and-platform style play structures. Despite attempts by play advocates and manufacturers to think outside the platform, it remains the most popular playground solution, primarily because of its integration with traditional components like slides and its ability to be accessible when ramps are added.

 

However, studies have shown that one of the key factors for the decline of playgrounds is a lack of challenging activity. The linear path and prescribed play of post-and-platform structures has grown stale and boring for many kids. While ramps and platforms are an accessible advantage for many, they tend to lose some of their appeal for another group of kids. The question everyone is left asking: can one play structure satisfy the needs and desires of every child?

A Design Journey

Playworld says yes! And we’ve set out on a journey to disrupt the status quo to create a “new norm” that offers more play value and more challenge for kids at every level. It might not be an easy road or a quick solution, but it’s something we have to do—something we truly believe in.

Our first step on this journey led to the creation of our latest product, infiNET™. This hybrid “netform” solution proposes a new topography of play that replaces traditional platforms and ramps with terraced net rings to increase the challenge and perceived risk. This design removes the barriers characteristic of post-and-platform structures and allows children to approach the system from all angles (up, over, under, and through), creating nearly infinite possibilities for play. Open sightlines enhance the aesthetic quality of these play structures, while making nets more inclusive/accessible so parents and caregivers can join in or assist kids when necessary. These wide expanses of net enable more children to play at once, promoting socialization and encouraging cooperation.

 

The Continuum of Challenge

Instead of creating a product with a black and white intention (either the child can do it too easily or they can’t at all), infiNET introduces a graduated approach. Depending upon the net configuration of the particular infiNET model, the structure can offer a continuum of challenge that lets kids push their personal limits a little bit at a time. Post-and-platform is binary—you’re either on the ground or six feet off of it. With infiNET, it’s the child’s choice; they can choose their own adventure.

 

There is play on every level, starting on the ground. Simply playing under the nets—looking up to peers, hanging underneath, exploring the intricate shadows—provides a rich experience post-and-platform structures do not always offer. On the smallest, horizontal transfer net, kids can test the waters or simply rest on the perforated steel stage. As they get bolder, they can venture up higher nets with or without assistance, following the red rope or resting on flex treads. For the highest challenge, a tightrope-style bridge pushes climbing skills to the extreme.

Portals at the edges of nets create a gateway to the play events. The portals link to traditional components, giving kids a fun way to access the ground or net zones. The portals also serve as a destination and a place to rest or think about your next steps. Additionally, smaller features like built-in Sensory Cues and Babble-On talk tubes are placed within ADA range of the support posts to elicit visual, tactile, and auditory investigation. In these ways, infiNET adds play value that is similar to post-and-platform systems.

 

Time for a Change

With fewer kids playing outside than ever before, we need to shake things up on the playground and make it an exciting place to be again! By creating play structures that challenge a variety of kids at their own level, we can ensure that nobody is bored and that everybody can play. It might seem impossible to please everyone, but we’ve seen a glimmer of hope with infiNET. The system makes an excellent substitution for post-and-platform structures on an inclusively designed play space because it offers a continuum of play—from ground level events and transfer-height horizontal nets to high, angled netforms and bridges. Because the nets are so expansive and the activities are not prescribed, these structures invite imaginations to go wild and invent new ways to play—and the more ways there are to play, the more kids we can accommodate and retain. While it can be an intimidating change to venture out of the norm of post-and-platform, we believe it’s vital to the mission of saving play. infiNET is just the first stop on that journey.

 

______________________________________________________________________________

See it in Person!

Want to see and experience the new topography of play for yourself? infiNET will make appearances at the NRPA Annual Conference (Booth #2627) in New Orleans on September 26 & 27, as well as the 2017 ASLA EXPO (Booth #1301) in Los Angeles on October 20-23. Stop by and let’s discuss the infinite possibilities for your play space!

 

To learn more about infiNET and see available predesigns, click here.

The post Hybrid System Shakes Tradition appeared first on Playworld® Blog.

Explore the Great Outdoors of Play: Nature Inspired Playgrounds Body:

 

nature play is a popular idea today. It refers to allowing children to interact with either the natural world or a play space that mimics nature so they can connect with nature in some capacity while they fuel their imaginations. There are many benefits to nature-inspired play:

With all these benefits, isn’t it time you introduced nature-based playground design or nature play in your community?

Two Types of Play

While individuals sometimes use nature play and nature-inspired play interchangeably, if you want to introduce the benefits of this play to children, it’s important to understand the difference. Natural play refers to situations where children use nature as a play area. They may play with plants and sand, climb trees or explore fields. Nature-inspired play, however, means using natural play equipment which offers some of the benefits of natural play, even in urban areas and environments where plants and trees may not be available.

Benefits of Nature-Inspired Play

While both nature play and nature-inspired play can be beneficial, many communities turn to nature-inspired playground equipment to reap the many benefits of nature-inspired play. This is because this kind of play:

  • Can be more educational because it’s designed to be that way. When kids play in nature, parents and educators may be able to turn play into a teaching moment after the fact, but there is nothing strategically educational about sand or a tree. Quality nature-inspired playgrounds, however, are designed to encourage education and exploration, so they can more naturally dovetail with learning goals.

  • Asks children to think outside of the box. With traditional playground equipment, such as slides, there is a prescribed way children approach these activities. Nature-inspired playground equipment asks children to step beyond some of these ideas. A child playing with a Challengers® Playmakers® Oak Trunk or a Challengers® Playmakers® Climbers Stone Pillar has to come up with their own approach. This builds creativity and pushes children towards more open-ended play.
  • Can offer a high degree of safety. In the natural world, there are many dangers. Children can fall from trees they are climbing, can get splinters from trees and can encounter poison oak and other hazards. In some cases, these dangers can be life-threatening. For example, if a child goes exploring and disturbs a nest of hornets, the stings can be extremely dangerous and can put the child’s life at risk. In contrast, outdoor natural play equipment is designed with safety in mind. Safety surfacing can be placed under all heights, and rounded edges, as well as sturdy construction, can mean children are less at risk of injuries. Since playgrounds are easily contained and designed for supervision, there is less of a chance that a child will become lost in a natural environment or happen upon something dangerous.
  • Can be included in any environment, including urban areas. Playgrounds with nature-inspired elements can be incorporated in any area where trees, sand and grass are harder to come by. Children of all backgrounds get to enjoy the benefits of nature-inspired play with this approach. In urban areas and high-density areas, large green spaces may be a luxury and nature-inspired play lets kids in these areas reap the benefits of outdoor play and some of the benefits of nature play without having to travel far.

  • Can offer the benefits of nature play. Just like nature play, nature-inspired play can create an appreciation for nature and can provide the other benefits of nature play because it mimics nature.
  • Can integrate well with the natural environment. Because of the materials used and the overall theme of this type of play equipment, it tends to fit well in natural settings such as parks or other landscaped settings. Children in these areas can then enjoy nature-inspired play without disturbing landscaped areas.
  • Can be kind to the environment. Playgrounds and play equipment designed with nature as inspiration can help to protect natural spaces. Children in a natural area or protected habitat can cause damage to trees, grass and animal habitats. Kids may simply not yet know how to be careful in nature. Playground equipment is designed to be sturdy and to handle years of use, so children can play as much as they like while natural areas around them are protected for the years ahead.
  • Can promote inclusive play. A playground can be made to be inclusive in a way the natural world simply cannot. A child may not be able to roll easily on a soft sanded beach in a wheelchair or climb a tree with a broken foot. However, a playground can be designed so all children can play. You can create wide ramps which allow children to climb in different ways and you can create cozy spaces for children who may need quiet time.
  • Allows for creativity. With nature-inspired play areas, you can choose brighter colors and unique design features. While nature has a broad range of variations, you are mostly limited to local plants and the immediate landscape. With a playground, there are no limits and you can create play areas to fuel young imaginations.

  • Allows parents and caregivers to supervise more closely. In a natural play space, there may not be places for parents to sit and boulders, shrubs or trees can affect visibility for parents. An inclusive playground with nature-inspired design, however, can be created with a sitting area or benches for caregivers to supervise closely, allowing children to stay safer.

  • Offers more options for active play and exercise. Trees, sand, grass and other natural elements allow for some play activities, but playgrounds can offer more options. Swings, slides, climbers and other playground equipment can be used in various ways to develop balance, strength and creativity, so children get more out of their play space.
  • Gives you more control in play area design. When you have a park area or a green space, you may be able to remove trees or trim back shrubs, but the way nature designs the space is ultimately how the space will look. With a playground, however, you are in control. You can add as many pieces of playground equipment as the space and your budget allow, for maximum play area. In fact, you can even build vertically to make the most out of small spaces. You can choose to create more areas for climbing or more slides, if you wish. With a playground, it is up to you.
  • Allows children to engage many senses. Nature-inspired play areas let children explore the sense of touch through textured surfaces and let them explore sound through activity panels. Kids can explore visual senses through bright colors and shapes. Even the smell of the outdoors can be great for children. Many of the activities children engage in do not fully engage all senses. For example, video games might only engage visual and audio senses while quiet study in a classroom might only engage visual faculties. This can be a problem, since sensory play is essential to childhood development. It builds fine motor skills, encourages children to explore the world, helps children integrate sensory information and can even help calm them.
  • Encourages children to engage in more physical play. Outdoor playgrounds are fun for kids and nature-inspired playgrounds can inspire kids to keep playing, which is important to ensure adequate physical exercise. Only 40 percent of kids now get at least 25 minutes of active physical activity three or more times a week, according to the journal Health Affairs. This could result in obesity and medical problems which cost $1.1 trillion in medical expenses over the lifetimes of these children. Any initiative which gets kids playing and active can help, and outdoor nature-inspired play can be engaging enough to encourage children to move and helps them to develop an active lifestyle.
  • Encourages good cognitive, physical, social and emotional development. Outdoor play is essential to childhood development, according to research published in the Porto Biomedical Journal. Outdoor play can increase cognitive function and academic performance and can encourage children to exercise because there is more room to do so. It is also important for social and emotional development because children playing on playgrounds interact with new children and must work together to engage in mutual play. Nature-inspired playgrounds can be a perfect place for all of this to happen, especially if kids are in more urban areas and do not have access to other natural areas.
  • Less maintenance is needed. In natural areas, ongoing maintenance is necessary. You need to trim trees and shrubs, pull weeds, ensure pests do not move in and take other actions to keep the area ready and safe for play. While playground equipment also needs checks and maintenance, the care it requires is less rigorous because playground equipment is designed to be durable and safe without extra work. Since there are no plants to trim and other similar tasks to take care of, the play area can be open to kids for longer!

  • Nature-inspired play gets kids away from digital distractions. Children spend almost 25 hours watching television and additional time in front of video games and screens. It can be a challenge to get kids away from screens because devices are designed to be so engaging. Nature-inspired playgrounds offer different playground equipment than traditional play spaces, which could encourage children to head outdoors and play instead of staying inside and moving little. Since long hours of screen time have been associated with poor health outcomes and development, anything that encourages children to stay active and go outdoors can be a benefit.

These are just some of the benefits of creating a play space inspired by nature but with playground design elements. Whether you choose to integrate real natural elements, such as trees, or opt to rely entirely on manufactured playground equipment, nature-inspired play can help your children explore the world around them in a way which is even safer than playing in nature. Many of these benefits can even last well into adulthood. Creativity, for example, can help children in school, play and work for the rest of their lives.

What to Consider When Encouraging Nature-Inspired Play

If you’re ready to start creating a play area inspired by the world of nature, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind:

1) Safety.

One of the benefits of creating a play space inspired by nature is that you can control some of the possible hazards of the natural world. When creating your play area, therefore, you will want to take safety into consideration. In addition to choosing playground equipment with a track record of security, you will want to check to make sure the natural area surrounding your play area is safe. Remove poison oak and any dead or dying trees. Check for uneven ground which can pose a safety hazard. Install playground safety surfacing to absorb impact, especially under climbers, slides, and swings. Be especially careful if there are water sources nearby. You do not want children to be able to wander into areas with water and away from supervised areas easily.

2) Inclusion.

Laws require all public and commercial playgrounds to be ADA compliant, but inclusive playgrounds go beyond accessibility. While accessible playgrounds can be accessed by children with mobility challenges and other conditions, inclusive playgrounds are designed to allow all children to use most of the equipment. Inclusive playgrounds ensure there are no “cool” pieces of equipment which are not accessible to the majority of children.

There are a few ways to ensure your nature-inspired playground is inclusive:

  • Make sure the paths around playground equipment is large enough to accommodate wheelchairs, adult caregivers and children moving between pieces of equipment.
  • Ensure easy access to playground equipment. Make sure there is adequate space around each piece of equipment for both children and possibly caregivers. Allow different points of access to each piece of equipment, so everyone gets to play.
  • Group activities by type. For example, if you have playground equipment which allows swinging or motion, group these activities together so kids with different abilities can take part together. Create a quieter area of the playground where children can retreat if they get easily overwhelmed and occasionally need quiet time to recharge.
  • Introduce multiple levels of play. This allows kids who are on foot, children in wheelchairs and kids using crutches to play together on different levels. It also ensures kids who have a more challenging time climbing still get to take part in the fun.
  • Work with a company known for creating inclusive playground equipment. A company like Playworld has additional resources to help you make your space inclusive.

Nature-inspired play can be more inclusive than nature play because you can control the environment more easily. Taking extra care to consider inclusion in design can further ensure all children can enjoy the playground.

3) The Natural Environment.

Nature play does not have to be left entirely behind when you create a play space inspired by nature. If your playground is in a park or a green space, you can incorporate the natural world. For example, if the play area is near a wooded area, you can set up playground equipment within sight of trees. By including some natural elements, you let children appreciate nature and see some of the natural world as they play.

4) Shade.

Being outdoors can give children a chance to enjoy fresh air and the sunshine, but it’s important to provide some shade to ensure kids and caregivers aren’t at a greater risk of sunburns and heat-related illness. Good shade lets kids stay cooler and safer from the sun, even with longer hours of play. Shade can also protect playground equipment from getting too hot and from getting too damaged by the sun’s rays. Hypar shades, hat shades and other options work with a range of playground spaces and keep your play area safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

5) Activities.

When creating your playground, you will want to give thought to the activities in which children can take part. Look for activities which can help with children’s development while also being fun. For example, a nature sounds panel enables children to explore the sounds of nature and can help them with auditory sensory development. The Nature Hunt Panel lets kids of all ages and abilities explore colors and the shapes of animals. This panel also allows children engage in conversations about the animal shapes they see. It can be an excellent way to start conversations about where animal live, what they eat, and their habits.

In addition to activity panels, there are also activities which allow for nature-inspired play and more exercise. The Wildwood Climber, for example, engages many senses. Children may love the natural brown and green colors and can use their sense of touch to explore the bark-inspired texture. Kids can develop balance and strength by climbing the structure or by hanging from the bar on top. The space under the structure can be a cozy space for kids or can allow for social development by letting kids play together.

6) The Age Ranges of Children Using the Play Space.

Playground equipment needs to be age-appropriate to allow for the best development benefits. Early childhood playgrounds often focus on gross motor development while school-aged playgrounds are often about social play, developing strength and exercise. If you want your playground to be available to children of different ages, look for pieces which can be used by children of different ages and group age-specific items together, so older kids and younger kids have their own areas of play.

7) Parents and Caregivers.

While kids are the focus of playgrounds, keep in mind many children head to the playground with caregivers or parents. Children who have limited mobility or other challenges, especially, may have someone with them who will be helping them with some or all of the playground activities. This means you need to make your playground accessible for adults, too. Create a shaded area for sitting where adults can supervise, and create wide paths or walking areas around the playground so parents can push strollers or wheelchairs around the play area when kids are taking a break. Making your play space more attractive for adults, too, allows for good supervision and can mean both adults and kids enjoy heading to your playground.

8) The Environmental Impact of the Play Area.

One of the benefits of playing outside is that kids get to be exposed to the importance of the environment. You want to make sure your play area does not have a negative environmental impact. Work with a company that can help you respect nature. For example, Playworld is the first and only commercial playground manufacturer to have a facility certified by the U.S. Green Building Council for Existing Buildings, so our playgrounds have a smaller carbon footprint. In addition, we are determined about eliminating PVC from playgrounds and most of our products are Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Bronze, meaning they are recognized for low toxicity and low environmental impact.

Our equipment is designed to last for many years, reducing the number of times you need to replace equipment and the amount of equipment which needs to be manufactured. This can not only save you money on replacement costs, but it is better for the environment. Learn more about Playworld’s certifications and find out how we take our impact on nature seriously.

9) Design.

When creating a nature-inspired play area, consider the design of your playground. Do you want a forest theme, a beach theme or another nature-inspired theme? Each has developmental and sensory benefits. You may want to choose a theme which fits in with your particular area. For example, in an urban environment, the Window Planter Panel gives kids a chance to plant flowers or to pretend to plant flowers in a window box, which is something they can experience in real life.

On the other hand, you can use design to let kids explore a type of nature to which they might not have access. For example, Challengers® Island Getaway and the Challengers® Caribbean Vibe have a tropic feel, with palm trees and other details reminiscent of a day at the beach. For children far from palm trees and the ocean, this can be an excellent way to introduce the idea of geographic differences and to explore the idea of different destinations. Dinosaur inspired play, like the Origins™ T-Rex Hatching Egg, give children the chance to play among “dinosaur bones” and experience the fun of being at an archaeological dig.

10) Maintenance and Long-term Playground Care.

Consider how you will care for your play space to keep it looking its best and to keep it safe. While Playworld creates playgrounds designed to be durable and lasting, bear in mind that some maintenance is needed for all playgrounds.

11) Surfacing.

One of the benefits of nature-inspired play is that it can be safer and more accessible when compared to play in nature. One reason behind this is that you can introduce proper safety surfacing to your play area to prevent injuries from impact and to make it easier for all kids to get around on the playground.

12) Budgeting.

The good news is that a playground can be affordable. Playworld has a number of options to help with financing and we can help you find solutions, such as phase-building to allow you to build a sensory-rich playground on your budget and add to it over time.

13) Site furnishings.

Comfort areas such as picnic tables or areas for sitting can help encourage children and their families to stay a while because they offer greater comfort. Good lighting and fencing can contribute to making your play area safer.

14) Kid Perspectives.

When designing a nature-inspired playground, you need to think like a child. What features and playground equipment will most encourage children to play? Playworld works with the real experts: kids. We make sure to test our playground equipment with safety experts and engineers but we also kid-test them to ensure children love the designs. Nature-inspired pieces such as RockBlocks® Climbers Adventure Canyon and Origins™ T-Rex Head look different than what kids usually encounter on a playground and offer different ways to play.

We have a track record of creating great playgrounds with nature elements. These playgrounds get kids excited about outdoor play. For example, our Harbour Landing playground in Saskatchewan, Canada features a sandy area with climbing rocks and “dinosaur” bones. Kids get to climb and pretend to be archeologists on a dig. The Children’s Ministry playground in Twin Falls, ID features climbing rocks, the Vine Climber, and a ship structure so kids can pretend to be sailing towards land. This structure is great for encouraging social play, since some children can be the “crew” on the ship while others can be on the “land,” allowing for many different imaginary scenarios.

Playworld and Your Natural World

Playworld has been helping communities, schools, daycares, parks and other organizations create beautiful playgrounds and nature-inspired play areas for years. If you’re thinking of creating a space where children can learn about nature, there are many benefits to working with us:

  • High material quality. Quality is a top priority at Playworld and it shows in every piece of equipment. From reinforcements to sturdy steel designed not to rust or corrode, each item from Playworld is manufactured with care from the best materials we can source.
  • Experience and many years of creating these kinds of play spaces. Playworld has helped generations of children play and our team has many years of experience, so we can help you.
  • Custom solutions. Nature-inspired play sometimes needs custom solutions. Whether you want equipment that blends into a natural landscape or you want to work around a natural feature, we can help. Our central PA manufacturing facility and our team of experts mean we can help you build the play space you’ve always wanted.
  • Customer service and full support. Never designed a nature-inspired playground or any playground? No problem. Playworld has guides to lead you systematically through the process. We’re also US-based and easy to reach with any questions. You can always reach out to a Playworld rep if you want help or have questions.
  • Design. A team of engineers and other experts designs every Playworld piece for durability, safety, innovation, inclusiveness, and quality. Each piece of playground equipment is tested carefully so you get the best possible playground equipment for your community.
  • Environmental considerations. Playworld playground equipment is kind to the environment, because it can be integrated into the surrounding area and is made to last, meaning it will not have to be replaced as often. Our manufacturing facility is also lean and green, ensuring it has the smallest carbon footprint possible.
  • Our play areas can be integrated into different natural environments or urban areas. Whether you have a big green space or a small urban area, we have play equipment which can bring the joy of nature-focused play to kids in your community.
  • Durability. Our commercial playground is designed to last, even with heavy use. It is intended to stand up to heavy play and the elements.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children spend 60 minutes a day of outside playing. Nature-inspired play can be one way to ensure kids get that time, no matter where they live. If you’re ready to start building a playground inspired by nature, request a quote or find a rep to get started.

The post Explore the Great Outdoors of Play: Nature Inspired Playgrounds appeared first on Playworld® Blog.

Link: https

Author: EME DEBUG --> Title: Explore the Great Outdoors of Play: Nature Inspired Playgrounds Body:

 

nature play is a popular idea today. It refers to allowing children to interact with either the natural world or a play space that mimics nature so they can connect with nature in some capacity while they fuel their imaginations. There are many benefits to nature-inspired play:

With all these benefits, isn’t it time you introduced nature-based playground design or nature play in your community?

Two Types of Play

While individuals sometimes use nature play and nature-inspired play interchangeably, if you want to introduce the benefits of this play to children, it’s important to understand the difference. Natural play refers to situations where children use nature as a play area. They may play with plants and sand, climb trees or explore fields. Nature-inspired play, however, means using natural play equipment which offers some of the benefits of natural play, even in urban areas and environments where plants and trees may not be available.

Benefits of Nature-Inspired Play

While both nature play and nature-inspired play can be beneficial, many communities turn to nature-inspired playground equipment to reap the many benefits of nature-inspired play. This is because this kind of play:

  • Can be more educational because it’s designed to be that way. When kids play in nature, parents and educators may be able to turn play into a teaching moment after the fact, but there is nothing strategically educational about sand or a tree. Quality nature-inspired playgrounds, however, are designed to encourage education and exploration, so they can more naturally dovetail with learning goals.

  • Asks children to think outside of the box. With traditional playground equipment, such as slides, there is a prescribed way children approach these activities. Nature-inspired playground equipment asks children to step beyond some of these ideas. A child playing with a Challengers® Playmakers® Oak Trunk or a Challengers® Playmakers® Climbers Stone Pillar has to come up with their own approach. This builds creativity and pushes children towards more open-ended play.
  • Can offer a high degree of safety. In the natural world, there are many dangers. Children can fall from trees they are climbing, can get splinters from trees and can encounter poison oak and other hazards. In some cases, these dangers can be life-threatening. For example, if a child goes exploring and disturbs a nest of hornets, the stings can be extremely dangerous and can put the child’s life at risk. In contrast, outdoor natural play equipment is designed with safety in mind. Safety surfacing can be placed under all heights, and rounded edges, as well as sturdy construction, can mean children are less at risk of injuries. Since playgrounds are easily contained and designed for supervision, there is less of a chance that a child will become lost in a natural environment or happen upon something dangerous.
  • Can be included in any environment, including urban areas. Playgrounds with nature-inspired elements can be incorporated in any area where trees, sand and grass are harder to come by. Children of all backgrounds get to enjoy the benefits of nature-inspired play with this approach. In urban areas and high-density areas, large green spaces may be a luxury and nature-inspired play lets kids in these areas reap the benefits of outdoor play and some of the benefits of nature play without having to travel far.

  • Can offer the benefits of nature play. Just like nature play, nature-inspired play can create an appreciation for nature and can provide the other benefits of nature play because it mimics nature.
  • Can integrate well with the natural environment. Because of the materials used and the overall theme of this type of play equipment, it tends to fit well in natural settings such as parks or other landscaped settings. Children in these areas can then enjoy nature-inspired play without disturbing landscaped areas.
  • Can be kind to the environment. Playgrounds and play equipment designed with nature as inspiration can help to protect natural spaces. Children in a natural area or protected habitat can cause damage to trees, grass and animal habitats. Kids may simply not yet know how to be careful in nature. Playground equipment is designed to be sturdy and to handle years of use, so children can play as much as they like while natural areas around them are protected for the years ahead.
  • Can promote inclusive play. A playground can be made to be inclusive in a way the natural world simply cannot. A child may not be able to roll easily on a soft sanded beach in a wheelchair or climb a tree with a broken foot. However, a playground can be designed so all children can play. You can create wide ramps which allow children to climb in different ways and you can create cozy spaces for children who may need quiet time.
  • Allows for creativity. With nature-inspired play areas, you can choose brighter colors and unique design features. While nature has a broad range of variations, you are mostly limited to local plants and the immediate landscape. With a playground, there are no limits and you can create play areas to fuel young imaginations.

  • Allows parents and caregivers to supervise more closely. In a natural play space, there may not be places for parents to sit and boulders, shrubs or trees can affect visibility for parents. An inclusive playground with nature-inspired design, however, can be created with a sitting area or benches for caregivers to supervise closely, allowing children to stay safer.

  • Offers more options for active play and exercise. Trees, sand, grass and other natural elements allow for some play activities, but playgrounds can offer more options. Swings, slides, climbers and other playground equipment can be used in various ways to develop balance, strength and creativity, so children get more out of their play space.
  • Gives you more control in play area design. When you have a park area or a green space, you may be able to remove trees or trim back shrubs, but the way nature designs the space is ultimately how the space will look. With a playground, however, you are in control. You can add as many pieces of playground equipment as the space and your budget allow, for maximum play area. In fact, you can even build vertically to make the most out of small spaces. You can choose to create more areas for climbing or more slides, if you wish. With a playground, it is up to you.
  • Allows children to engage many senses. Nature-inspired play areas let children explore the sense of touch through textured surfaces and let them explore sound through activity panels. Kids can explore visual senses through bright colors and shapes. Even the smell of the outdoors can be great for children. Many of the activities children engage in do not fully engage all senses. For example, video games might only engage visual and audio senses while quiet study in a classroom might only engage visual faculties. This can be a problem, since sensory play is essential to childhood development. It builds fine motor skills, encourages children to explore the world, helps children integrate sensory information and can even help calm them.
  • Encourages children to engage in more physical play. Outdoor playgrounds are fun for kids and nature-inspired playgrounds can inspire kids to keep playing, which is important to ensure adequate physical exercise. Only 40 percent of kids now get at least 25 minutes of active physical activity three or more times a week, according to the journal Health Affairs. This could result in obesity and medical problems which cost $1.1 trillion in medical expenses over the lifetimes of these children. Any initiative which gets kids playing and active can help, and outdoor nature-inspired play can be engaging enough to encourage children to move and helps them to develop an active lifestyle.
  • Encourages good cognitive, physical, social and emotional development. Outdoor play is essential to childhood development, according to research published in the Porto Biomedical Journal. Outdoor play can increase cognitive function and academic performance and can encourage children to exercise because there is more room to do so. It is also important for social and emotional development because children playing on playgrounds interact with new children and must work together to engage in mutual play. Nature-inspired playgrounds can be a perfect place for all of this to happen, especially if kids are in more urban areas and do not have access to other natural areas.
  • Less maintenance is needed. In natural areas, ongoing maintenance is necessary. You need to trim trees and shrubs, pull weeds, ensure pests do not move in and take other actions to keep the area ready and safe for play. While playground equipment also needs checks and maintenance, the care it requires is less rigorous because playground equipment is designed to be durable and safe without extra work. Since there are no plants to trim and other similar tasks to take care of, the play area can be open to kids for longer!

  • Nature-inspired play gets kids away from digital distractions. Children spend almost 25 hours watching television and additional time in front of video games and screens. It can be a challenge to get kids away from screens because devices are designed to be so engaging. Nature-inspired playgrounds offer different playground equipment than traditional play spaces, which could encourage children to head outdoors and play instead of staying inside and moving little. Since long hours of screen time have been associated with poor health outcomes and development, anything that encourages children to stay active and go outdoors can be a benefit.

These are just some of the benefits of creating a play space inspired by nature but with playground design elements. Whether you choose to integrate real natural elements, such as trees, or opt to rely entirely on manufactured playground equipment, nature-inspired play can help your children explore the world around them in a way which is even safer than playing in nature. Many of these benefits can even last well into adulthood. Creativity, for example, can help children in school, play and work for the rest of their lives.

What to Consider When Encouraging Nature-Inspired Play

If you’re ready to start creating a play area inspired by the world of nature, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind:

1) Safety.

One of the benefits of creating a play space inspired by nature is that you can control some of the possible hazards of the natural world. When creating your play area, therefore, you will want to take safety into consideration. In addition to choosing playground equipment with a track record of security, you will want to check to make sure the natural area surrounding your play area is safe. Remove poison oak and any dead or dying trees. Check for uneven ground which can pose a safety hazard. Install playground safety surfacing to absorb impact, especially under climbers, slides, and swings. Be especially careful if there are water sources nearby. You do not want children to be able to wander into areas with water and away from supervised areas easily.

2) Inclusion.

Laws require all public and commercial playgrounds to be ADA compliant, but inclusive playgrounds go beyond accessibility. While accessible playgrounds can be accessed by children with mobility challenges and other conditions, inclusive playgrounds are designed to allow all children to use most of the equipment. Inclusive playgrounds ensure there are no “cool” pieces of equipment which are not accessible to the majority of children.

There are a few ways to ensure your nature-inspired playground is inclusive:

  • Make sure the paths around playground equipment is large enough to accommodate wheelchairs, adult caregivers and children moving between pieces of equipment.
  • Ensure easy access to playground equipment. Make sure there is adequate space around each piece of equipment for both children and possibly caregivers. Allow different points of access to each piece of equipment, so everyone gets to play.
  • Group activities by type. For example, if you have playground equipment which allows swinging or motion, group these activities together so kids with different abilities can take part together. Create a quieter area of the playground where children can retreat if they get easily overwhelmed and occasionally need quiet time to recharge.
  • Introduce multiple levels of play. This allows kids who are on foot, children in wheelchairs and kids using crutches to play together on different levels. It also ensures kids who have a more challenging time climbing still get to take part in the fun.
  • Work with a company known for creating inclusive playground equipment. A company like Playworld has additional resources to help you make your space inclusive.

Nature-inspired play can be more inclusive than nature play because you can control the environment more easily. Taking extra care to consider inclusion in design can further ensure all children can enjoy the playground.

3) The Natural Environment.

Nature play does not have to be left entirely behind when you create a play space inspired by nature. If your playground is in a park or a green space, you can incorporate the natural world. For example, if the play area is near a wooded area, you can set up playground equipment within sight of trees. By including some natural elements, you let children appreciate nature and see some of the natural world as they play.

4) Shade.

Being outdoors can give children a chance to enjoy fresh air and the sunshine, but it’s important to provide some shade to ensure kids and caregivers aren’t at a greater risk of sunburns and heat-related illness. Good shade lets kids stay cooler and safer from the sun, even with longer hours of play. Shade can also protect playground equipment from getting too hot and from getting too damaged by the sun’s rays. Hypar shades, hat shades and other options work with a range of playground spaces and keep your play area safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

5) Activities.

When creating your playground, you will want to give thought to the activities in which children can take part. Look for activities which can help with children’s development while also being fun. For example, a nature sounds panel enables children to explore the sounds of nature and can help them with auditory sensory development. The Nature Hunt Panel lets kids of all ages and abilities explore colors and the shapes of animals. This panel also allows children engage in conversations about the animal shapes they see. It can be an excellent way to start conversations about where animal live, what they eat, and their habits.

In addition to activity panels, there are also activities which allow for nature-inspired play and more exercise. The Wildwood Climber, for example, engages many senses. Children may love the natural brown and green colors and can use their sense of touch to explore the bark-inspired texture. Kids can develop balance and strength by climbing the structure or by hanging from the bar on top. The space under the structure can be a cozy space for kids or can allow for social development by letting kids play together.

6) The Age Ranges of Children Using the Play Space.

Playground equipment needs to be age-appropriate to allow for the best development benefits. Early childhood playgrounds often focus on gross motor development while school-aged playgrounds are often about social play, developing strength and exercise. If you want your playground to be available to children of different ages, look for pieces which can be used by children of different ages and group age-specific items together, so older kids and younger kids have their own areas of play.

7) Parents and Caregivers.

While kids are the focus of playgrounds, keep in mind many children head to the playground with caregivers or parents. Children who have limited mobility or other challenges, especially, may have someone with them who will be helping them with some or all of the playground activities. This means you need to make your playground accessible for adults, too. Create a shaded area for sitting where adults can supervise, and create wide paths or walking areas around the playground so parents can push strollers or wheelchairs around the play area when kids are taking a break. Making your play space more attractive for adults, too, allows for good supervision and can mean both adults and kids enjoy heading to your playground.

8) The Environmental Impact of the Play Area.

One of the benefits of playing outside is that kids get to be exposed to the importance of the environment. You want to make sure your play area does not have a negative environmental impact. Work with a company that can help you respect nature. For example, Playworld is the first and only commercial playground manufacturer to have a facility certified by the U.S. Green Building Council for Existing Buildings, so our playgrounds have a smaller carbon footprint. In addition, we are determined about eliminating PVC from playgrounds and most of our products are Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Bronze, meaning they are recognized for low toxicity and low environmental impact.

Our equipment is designed to last for many years, reducing the number of times you need to replace equipment and the amount of equipment which needs to be manufactured. This can not only save you money on replacement costs, but it is better for the environment. Learn more about Playworld’s certifications and find out how we take our impact on nature seriously.

9) Design.

When creating a nature-inspired play area, consider the design of your playground. Do you want a forest theme, a beach theme or another nature-inspired theme? Each has developmental and sensory benefits. You may want to choose a theme which fits in with your particular area. For example, in an urban environment, the Window Planter Panel gives kids a chance to plant flowers or to pretend to plant flowers in a window box, which is something they can experience in real life.

On the other hand, you can use design to let kids explore a type of nature to which they might not have access. For example, Challengers® Island Getaway and the Challengers® Caribbean Vibe have a tropic feel, with palm trees and other details reminiscent of a day at the beach. For children far from palm trees and the ocean, this can be an excellent way to introduce the idea of geographic differences and to explore the idea of different destinations. Dinosaur inspired play, like the Origins™ T-Rex Hatching Egg, give children the chance to play among “dinosaur bones” and experience the fun of being at an archaeological dig.

10) Maintenance and Long-term Playground Care.

Consider how you will care for your play space to keep it looking its best and to keep it safe. While Playworld creates playgrounds designed to be durable and lasting, bear in mind that some maintenance is needed for all playgrounds.

11) Surfacing.

One of the benefits of nature-inspired play is that it can be safer and more accessible when compared to play in nature. One reason behind this is that you can introduce proper safety surfacing to your play area to prevent injuries from impact and to make it easier for all kids to get around on the playground.

12) Budgeting.

The good news is that a playground can be affordable. Playworld has a number of options to help with financing and we can help you find solutions, such as phase-building to allow you to build a sensory-rich playground on your budget and add to it over time.

13) Site furnishings.

Comfort areas such as picnic tables or areas for sitting can help encourage children and their families to stay a while because they offer greater comfort. Good lighting and fencing can contribute to making your play area safer.

14) Kid Perspectives.

When designing a nature-inspired playground, you need to think like a child. What features and playground equipment will most encourage children to play? Playworld works with the real experts: kids. We make sure to test our playground equipment with safety experts and engineers but we also kid-test them to ensure children love the designs. Nature-inspired pieces such as RockBlocks® Climbers Adventure Canyon and Origins™ T-Rex Head look different than what kids usually encounter on a playground and offer different ways to play.

We have a track record of creating great playgrounds with nature elements. These playgrounds get kids excited about outdoor play. For example, our Harbour Landing playground in Saskatchewan, Canada features a sandy area with climbing rocks and “dinosaur” bones. Kids get to climb and pretend to be archeologists on a dig. The Children’s Ministry playground in Twin Falls, ID features climbing rocks, the Vine Climber, and a ship structure so kids can pretend to be sailing towards land. This structure is great for encouraging social play, since some children can be the “crew” on the ship while others can be on the “land,” allowing for many different imaginary scenarios.

Playworld and Your Natural World

Playworld has been helping communities, schools, daycares, parks and other organizations create beautiful playgrounds and nature-inspired play areas for years. If you’re thinking of creating a space where children can learn about nature, there are many benefits to working with us:

  • High material quality. Quality is a top priority at Playworld and it shows in every piece of equipment. From reinforcements to sturdy steel designed not to rust or corrode, each item from Playworld is manufactured with care from the best materials we can source.
  • Experience and many years of creating these kinds of play spaces. Playworld has helped generations of children play and our team has many years of experience, so we can help you.
  • Custom solutions. Nature-inspired play sometimes needs custom solutions. Whether you want equipment that blends into a natural landscape or you want to work around a natural feature, we can help. Our central PA manufacturing facility and our team of experts mean we can help you build the play space you’ve always wanted.
  • Customer service and full support. Never designed a nature-inspired playground or any playground? No problem. Playworld has guides to lead you systematically through the process. We’re also US-based and easy to reach with any questions. You can always reach out to a Playworld rep if you want help or have questions.
  • Design. A team of engineers and other experts designs every Playworld piece for durability, safety, innovation, inclusiveness, and quality. Each piece of playground equipment is tested carefully so you get the best possible playground equipment for your community.
  • Environmental considerations. Playworld playground equipment is kind to the environment, because it can be integrated into the surrounding area and is made to last, meaning it will not have to be replaced as often. Our manufacturing facility is also lean and green, ensuring it has the smallest carbon footprint possible.
  • Our play areas can be integrated into different natural environments or urban areas. Whether you have a big green space or a small urban area, we have play equipment which can bring the joy of nature-focused play to kids in your community.
  • Durability. Our commercial playground is designed to last, even with heavy use. It is intended to stand up to heavy play and the elements.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children spend 60 minutes a day of outside playing. Nature-inspired play can be one way to ensure kids get that time, no matter where they live. If you’re ready to start building a playground inspired by nature, request a quote or find a rep to get started.

The post Explore the Great Outdoors of Play: Nature Inspired Playgrounds appeared first on Playworld® Blog.

Building a Safer Playground: Using Playground Design to Minimize Bullying Body:

Bullying is a serious problem in classrooms, in schools, on playgrounds and in other environments. This long-reaching issue can affect children’s self-esteem, social skills and more. Often it goes undetected, and in recent years it has made headlines as children have suffered serious violence and trauma due to aggression and teasing. Bullying is an escalating problem and is a key issue for anyone designing a playground.

How can we help reduce bullying frequency at recess and on the playground? Most people don’t consider design in prevention programs, but good design as well as good resources can help discourage playground aggression. Using every tool in our arsenal can help ensure children have a fun, safe and joyous childhood, free of violence and the trauma name-calling can cause.

Playground Bullying Statistics

Not all parents realize just how much of a problem bullying can be on playgrounds. However, the statistics paint a rather grim picture:

  • 47 percent of third-grade students have been bullied, with incidents starting as early as kindergarten.
  • 20 percent of students in grades 9-12 and 28 percent of students in grades 6-12 reported having been bullied, according to nobullying.com.
  • 70.6 percent of students have seen aggression happen, and 30 percent have admitted to bullying others.

The vast majority of children, then, will see someone harassed, and almost half will experience bullying themselves. It doesn’t have to be this prevalent.

What Is Bullying?

Quite simply, when we talk about this subject, we’re speaking of harassment, aggression and other negative behaviors which target specific children. Common forms include:

  • Name-calling
  • Rumor spreading
  • Threats
  • Physical aggression
  • Theft
  • Exclusion
  • Isolation

Bullying can take many forms. It can mean children are isolated because falsehoods are spread about them. It can mean they are teased or called disparaging names. It can mean their lunch money or possessions are stolen or damaged, or they are prevented from playing with others. In extreme cases, it can escalate to pushing, shoving and even assault. There have been instances where children have been killed or permanently injured by peers, so it is a crucial problem to address.

Unfortunately, aggression among children can escalate. What can begin as name-calling or teasing on the playground eventually becomes pushing and even physical harm. In many cases, this type of situation can be extremely isolating, whether or not isolation is a tactic used by perpetrators specifically. Feeling as though they don’t belong and being told they cannot play with other children can make it harder for children to develop strong friendships and the social skills they need. It can also make them feel alone, helpless and hopeless.

Bullying has serious and negative effects on both perpetrators and survivors, and many people are surprised to find out just how widespread the long-term effects can be. Those who are targeted may suffer from anxiety, school avoidance, loneliness and other issues. They may want to avoid school because they fear their aggressors, and this can lead to worsening grades and school performance.

The stress and anxiety can also lead to school avoidance and lower grades, which can have a long-term impact on career prospects. Feelings of loneliness and anxiety can even produce depression and physical symptoms, such as stomachaches and headaches. Of course, physical confrontation can lead to fractures, bruising and other physical harm.

The Short- and Long-Term Effects

Bullying can have a severe impact on mental health, social well-being and sense of self. People who have been targeted may not understand why they have been chosen as a target and may question what they have done wrong. They may feel “not as good” or may assume certain characteristics make them unlovable or unlikable. They may suffer from poor self-esteem.

In some cases, these feelings can persist even after the incidents stop, which is one reason simply moving to a new school or neighborhood may not help. Even as adults, individuals may remember and keenly feel the pain they experienced as children who were singled out by others. Worse, these incidents can impact life prospects. Someone who feels less confidence or is depressed due to childhood trauma may not live up to their full potential.

They may be more timid about reaching out to others or pursuing accomplishments because they have been put down or teased so often. This can become a vicious cycle, where students underperform and achieve less because they try less, getting fewer good results.

Children who witness bullying experience trauma, too:

  • They may fear they will be targeted next or feel pressure or anxiety about the aggressor’s next target.
  • They may feel severely pressured not to tell adults or may feel trapped between wanting to alert adults and not wanting to get in trouble with perpetrators.
  • They may feel guilty as a result of not coming forward soon enough or not doing enough to help.
  • Some children who witness name-calling or even aggressive incidents may join in because they’re afraid of being targeted and then end up feeling guilty or upset at their own behavior.
The Impact on Bullies

Bullies themselves, too, suffer. Perpetrators may have anger management problems, poor social skills or other issues. Because they aren’t using better options for controlling anger or poor social skills, they may fail to develop the skills they need to succeed in life.

They are also more likely to continue violence as they grow older, with aggression sometimes escalating. The escalating violence can eventually land them in trouble with the law or cause them to get expelled, affecting their chances when it comes to college and careers.

What Does Playground Design Have to Do With Bullying?

Much has been written about the causes of childhood name-calling and there is much debate about the best ways to try to encourage better behavior. It certainly a topic many parents think about and talk about. In these discussions, playground design is not often listed as a major consideration. However, it should be.

When most parents think about keeping children safe, they think about better supervision or awareness campaigns, or they consider addressing the complex social issues that cause teasing, isolation, name-calling and aggression. Certainly it’s true that developing social skills early or addressing issues of socioeconomic inequalities and other complex problems could help with bullying. However, playground design is an accessible and readily available tool that can help reduce instances of conflict for a number of reasons.

Promoting Inclusivity and Safety

Inclusive and safe environments are an important way to address the issue, according to stopbullying.com, a resource developed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Identifying a High-Risk Area

Playgrounds are considered one of the higher-risk areas for conflict between children. By addressing playground design, schools and communities may see overall rates of aggression between children reduced.

Targeting this specific area can also translate to less aggression elsewhere. If children get along on the playground, this may result in more cooperation and friendliness in the classroom as well.

Emphasizing Togetherness

Playgrounds provide a unique opportunity to bring children together. All children like to play, and this can be a great equalizer. In the classroom, children may see differences based on school performance, age and other measures because classrooms tend to quantify childhood performance.

Playgrounds are a unique space because they bring together children who may not be together in the classroom. Because of this, playgrounds can be a place for children to find common ground. Most children spend time together at recess, and creating a space where children can play together amicably during breaks can mean more cooperation even after recess is over.

Eliminating Differences

Playgrounds can emphasize differences, and perceived differences are cited as one of the most common causes of conflict, according to nobullying.com. Children who cannot use a piece of playground equipment, for example, may be teased or called names. A playground designed for older children may emphasize age differences.

By creating a more inclusive playground, eliminating these differences can help children play together and get to know each other. This can help bridge some of the gaps that cause isolation, name-calling and other negative behaviors.

Improving Supervision

Only 20 to 30 percent of students who are targeted report the incidents, again according to nobullying.com, so creating spaces where unsocial behavior can’t be hidden are important to disrupt the cycle. Playground design that emphasizes open spaces can make supervision easier. Bullies can’t hide their actions as readily in an open playground concept where caregivers can easily spot children.

Since the vast majority of bullying incidents are not reported, discouraging incidents needs to be an area of focus. A well-designed space also means adults are more likely to be the ones who spot bullying. This is important since it can help eliminate the upset and fear child bystanders may feel when they see bullying happen, but don’t have the skills to prevent or stop it. Good playground design takes the responsibility of addressing bullying from children and puts it on adults.

Encouraging New Friendships

Playgrounds can be spaces where children who have been targeted before feel safe and included, which is important for kids trying to move past previous encounters with aggressors.

For children who are targeted in the classroom, an inclusive playground can provide a place where they feel safe and where they can build friendships with other students. This can be crucial in rebuilding trust and confidence.

Cultivating Better Social Skills

Playgrounds are where many students learn social skills and conflict resolution, so playgrounds designed to create inclusive and productive play can teach good social skills.

If children can learn to cooperate through effective playground design, they may develop better ways for dealing with others, as well as with conflicts and anger. This can help perpetrators avoid the very factors that lead them to target others.

What Playground Design Features Can Help Reduce Risk of Bullying?

Since playground design can be an important way to lessen bullying, how exactly can we implement design features to help address this problem? There are many options:

1. Ensure Clear Visibility for Good Supervision

An open concept with good visibility means there are fewer places where bullies can hide and perpetrate violence. Good visibility creates a safer environment for everyone. One way to make a playground safer for all children is to create many places for caregivers and supervisors. Make these spaces comfortable, with a good view of the entire playground.

Benches and other seating areas close to wider walkways designed to be accessible for wheelchairs ensure caregivers can rest comfortably. Shaded areas over benches and seating areas can encourage caregivers and supervisory staff to keep an eye on children. Keeping benches and areas close to wider and wheelchair-accessible paths guarantees supervisors and caregivers can assist children who need a little extra help.

2. Offer the Right Playground Features for Everyone

Gender- and age-appropriate play equipment can ensure everyone feels included. When children aren’t excluded because of their age or gender, it becomes easier for them to play together as a group, which allows them to get to get to know each other and can help reduce bullying based on perceived differences.

3. Choose Playground Equipment Designed to Encourage Non-Aggressive Play

Playground equipment designed to encourage peaceful and nonaggressive play is an important part of good playground design. ‘Round The Bend platforms from Playworld, for example, are uneven platforms designed to encourage children to run around and work on their balance, but they don’t encourage wargames or games based on aggression.

OriginsTM Boulders encourage climbing and other activities without aggression. When looking at playground equipment, consider whether the equipment would encourage any type of violent or aggressive play. Pieces encouraging war or other aggressive maneuvers could potentially encourage rougher play, which can escalate.

4. Look for Playground Equipment Designed to Encourage Cooperative Play

Look for playground equipment that encourages children to play together. For example:

  • The Picnic Boulder from Playworld encourages children to sit together and talk easily around a table. There’s also a place for children with wheelchairs to pull up.
  • The Storefront Panel encourages children to play together, with one person selling and another person acting as a store customer.

Cooperative play ensures children get a chance to socialize and to work together, which can help build bridges, even across differences, reducing the risk of conflict and helping to build friendships. When children pretend play with a storefront, for example, they need to cooperate, agree on rules and work together. This can help build social skills and friendships more than pieces of equipment designed for individual play.

5. Design Playground Equipment to Encourage Structured Play

Classic playground equipment such as slides and swings can be a lot of fun. However, equipment designed to offer structured play can make it easier for children still developing their social skills to learn to play with others without stifling their creativity. For example:

  • The Rhythm Wall from Playworld lets children make sounds together or alone using drum, chime, bell and horn panels. Children can be encouraged in their creativity by creating different sounds or rhythms, but it is pretty clear what they can do with the panels.
  • The Tic-Tac-Toe Panel and other games from Playworld require children to agree on the rules and play together. This type of structured play can be encouraging for children who are developing social skills.

It becomes easier for children to understand how to interact with the playground equipment and with each other when using structured play.

6. Use Playground Design to Eliminate Unsupervised Areas

Playground design that allows caregivers to see every piece of equipment and reduces low-visibility areas can make it easier to ensure proper supervision. This makes it harder to hide problems on the playground and encourages children to act their best because they know aggression will be seen.

A playground design that has multiple levels for play but which offers caregivers seats and benches at a higher level is ideal. It allows caregivers to look down on the playground, which can be useful. Another option is to have the entire playground surrounded by inclusive and wide walkways, allowing caregivers to walk around in groups and supervise the entire area at all times.

7. Engage All Senses With Playground Activities

Playground equipment can include:

  • Tactile playground equipment
  • Auditory playground equipment
  • Nature play areas
  • Visual playground equipment

Engaging all senses keeps children more interested, and this can help reduce aggression caused by boredom. Including playground equipment appealing to all senses is more stimulating and inclusive. Children don’t feel bored, because even if they don’t like visual playground equipment, they may enjoy nature or tactile areas. More engaging equipment means children spend their time playing, and this can encourage potential perpetrators to play instead of targeting other children out of boredom or frustration.

8. Understand Why Problems Happen When Developing a Playground

Understanding why conflict happens can help you create a design that can help stop bullying at recess. A bully at school may want to become popular by exerting power over a student seen as “different” or “weak.” By including inclusive activities that encourage children to excel at their own levels, you can help children avoid being seen as weak or different.

They can continue to play, helping to create more similarities than differences. By creating inclusive playground equipment, you are also providing a space where every child can succeed, meaning bullies with poor social skills don’t have to rely on aggression to feel important. They can master playground games instead.

It’s also important to keep in mind students who are targeted by perpetrators can also turn into bullies. Bullying becomes a self-perpetuating behavior. By creating playgrounds that discourage aggression, it is possible to work to break this cycle.

Creating an inclusive playground space can reduce exclusion, which is a common tool bullies use. By showing that everyone can use the playground, inclusive spaces can build empathy and forge bonds while also reducing the isolation that uninclusive playgrounds unintentionally cause.

9. Set up and Post Playground Rules Designed to Minimize Bullying

Clearly posted rules that prohibit pushing, shoving and other undesirable behaviors are important. Children appreciate clear rules and structures, and it makes it easier for them to report aggressive behavior on the playground. If children have clear rules about no shoving, for example, they may feel more comfortable coming forward when they do see shoving take place.

Clear rules also encourage kids to be on their best behavior. When children know they cannot curse or name-call, they may find it easier to follow the rules if they are reminded of them. Of course, posted rules also give children good motivation to obey.

10. Create a Playground That Reduces the Risk of Conflict

Make sure there is enough space and enough “cool” pieces of equipment to ensure all children get to play, since scarcity or overcrowding can lead to conflict. Problems on the playground can occur if there aren’t enough stimulating pieces of equipment, causing undue competition for the best pieces of equipment.

Try to include plenty of areas for fun exploration and multiple activities for all levels. In addition, create cozy or quieter spaces for children who need to wind down or who require less stimulation from time to time.

How Inclusive Playground Design Can Make a Difference

Inclusive play and inclusive playground design are essential components of making sure a playground can help cut down on bullying. Inclusive play:

  • Allows a greater number of children to use the playground, including those living with conditions affecting their mobility or function.
  • Reduces the chance some children will be excluded from play because they cannot use the playground.
  • Allows all kids to play, allowing them to get to know each other despite any perceived differences in a social setting, fostering understanding.
  • Reduces any perceived “differences” by making sure all children can play, which lessens the chance that children will be targeted or picked on.
  • Helps avoid children being separated into cliques or groups based on access to the playground, creating fewer barriers. With fewer strongly divided groups, it becomes easier for children to cooperate and play together, even across distances and age groups.
  • Helps to prevent smaller children from being bullied because of their size by allowing them to play with other kids in the playground.
  • Creates playground spaces that can be used by children of different languages, cultures and communication abilities.

Inclusive play provides an opportunity for children to communicate and socialize. This minimizes their differences and creates common ground, fostering an understanding that can translate into the classroom and other areas.

How to Create an Inclusive Playground to Discourage Bullying

Creating an inclusive playground has many benefits. It allows all children, regardless of mobility and other conditions, to use the playground to the best of their abilities. It ensures all children get to have fun, and it helps your playground lessen the risk of bullying by making sure no one feels excluded and no one is singled out as “different.”

An inclusive playground is designed both for able-bodied children and children with disabilities. To build an inclusive playground, you will want to do the following:

1. Use Unitary Surfacing

Poured-in-place playground surfacing, rubber tile surfacing, loose fill playground surfacing such as engineered wood fiber or rubber mulch and SMARTE® playground surfacing can help protect the investment you’ve made in your playground.

Quality surfacing can also help prevent injuries caused by falls and make it easier for children and caregivers with mobility equipment to use and access all pieces of equipment. In addition, playground mats under high-traffic areas can help protect surfacing and offer an extra layer of protection.

2. Create Clear Routes Between Spaces to Avoid Collisions

Between each piece of equipment, allow for wide-enough spaces to allow children to move together in groups. It should be easy for children to run and walk between pieces of equipment without bumping into each other, since bumping into each other can cause conflict.

Keep in mind children with mobility equipment such as wheelchairs also need to be able to move easily between equipment. Make sure any course created through the playground is accessible with crutches, wheelchairs and other equipment.

3. Cluster Similar Activities to Encourage Children of Different Abilities to Play

Gliders and swings can be placed together so children can move together. Different types of music equipment and auditory equipment designed to create musical noise can be grouped together to allow children of different ages to use their age-specific equipment together. Quieter spaces and cozy spaces should be in a separate area of the playground where children who become easily overwhelmed can sit quietly together.

Children may find common ground and overcome bullying when they focus on their similarities rather than their differences. Group similar equipment together to make it possible for children to play together despite any differences.

Grouping similar activities can also reduce conflict caused by noise and incompatibility. For example, grouping musical equipment and noise-making equipment far from the cozy and quiet spaces ensures children who want to make music and children who need quiet are not in conflict. This grouping can allow for a more harmonious use of playground equipment.

4. Create Spaces for Elevated Play, With a Larger Payoff for Getting to That Space

Elevated spaces can be a lot of fun, but they can also pose challenges. Someone who has to work a little bit more to get to an elevated space needs to have a greater payoff. For example, if someone uses a wheelchair to get to the top of the slide, there should be more to do at the top than simply slide down, since sliding only takes a few seconds and then requires considerable effort to get back up to the same level.

Elevated play can be a lot of fun for children of all ages, but make sure there is fun for everyone involved. The Unity® Slide Climber from Playworld, for example, offers a meeting space at the top of the slide as well as other challenges.

5. Create Multiple Levels of Challenge to Engage Children of All Ability Levels

Children who are bored because they’re not challenged may be more likely to lash out, especially if they’re still developing their social skills. Keeping children engaged and interested in play means they focus on fun and creativity rather than on others. To help encourage cooperation and discourage bullying, create challenges for children of all ability levels. This may mean creating multisensory playground areas where children of different abilities and ages can play.

For example, a textured surface with a space for playing music can encourage children to make noise and touch the textured surface. This can be a great option if they’re tired out from swinging or gliding on gliders. Some pieces of equipment can appeal to many children with different levels of ability. The Roller Slither Slide from Playworld, for example, is a full-body, tactile experience with texture, a slide and sound.

6. Allow for Different Zones of Activity, Including Quiet Zones

Zones with nature activities, auditory activities and more physical activities let children run around and try different options. However, it is also important to include quieter zones for children who get overwhelmed.

This can help discourage children from getting aggressive because of that overwhelmed feeling or because they are upset by too much noise. It can also be a useful place to take a child struggling with cooperation. A bit of quiet time with others who are also quiet can help defuse a difficult situation.

7. Make Sure Everyone Can Access the “Coolest” Equipment to Reduce Exclusion

Think carefully about the “coolest” pieces of equipment. If only a few students can play on these items at a time, exclusion and bullying can happen. If there are only a few pieces of cool equipment, this can also create competition on the playground, which can inadvertently lead to bullying.

Unfortunately, having only one cool piece of equipment and limiting access to it can also place children with mobility issues at an increased risk of bullying. Children living with disabilities are two or three more times more likely to be bullied when compared with other students. Creating a safe playground can help discourage bullying among all children. It can also ensure children who are living with mobility issues or other perceived differences are less likely to be targeted specifically.

If possible, create several pieces of equipment that can be seen as “cool” and ensure they are accessible by as many children as possible. If possible, link the coolest piece of equipment to other pieces that are also attractive to encourage larger numbers of children to play together.

For example, Funky Animals and Spring Riders can be grouped together so lots of children can play or be placed near Animal Tunes panels by Playworld. This allows some children to play with the animals and some to make animal noises at the same time. Rather than having children competing for the Spring Riders, children can switch up or try to coordinate movements and sounds.

Your Options for Design

Playground design, especially inclusive playground design, has the potential to reduce the risk of fighting and disagreements on playgrounds. It can create a more inclusive field of play, meaning children are encouraged to participate and play together rather than focus on differences.

Inclusive playground design and smart designs can help reduce perceived differences and can help children get to know each other, which can help reduce bullying both on the playground and in other spaces. Good playground design can also minimize hidden spaces where harassment between children take can take place.

Additionally, good playground design addresses some of the root causes of conflict. If perpetrators are frustrated or can’t access pieces of playground equipment, they may be more likely to act out. Inclusive design means providing stimulating components that allow children of all ability levels to take part in play.

This results in less frustration, meaning children are more likely to focus on play rather than on aggression. Since underdeveloped social skills can also cause bullying, smart playground design with safe and quiet spaces as well as cooperative playground equipment can help encourage good interpersonal skills, and thus help reduce the risk problems long-term. For a child who has been targeted before, inclusive design can help them get to use playground equipment with other children, creating new friendships and building confidence.

Use Our Resources to Create Your Inclusive Playground

Visit Playworld’s resource section to find playground bullying prevention resources. You’ll find ideas for your inclusive playground and more information about inclusive play spaces. We are a leader in inclusive play, and we have details about funding as well as specific equipment to help you build a kinder, more inclusive play space.

Playworld can be your partner in developing an inclusive playground, which helps encourage positive behavior on your play area.

The post Building a Safer Playground: Using Playground Design to Minimize Bullying appeared first on Playworld® Blog.

Link: https://playworld

Author: EME DEBUG --> Title: Building a Safer Playground: Using Playground Design to Minimize Bullying Body:

Bullying is a serious problem in classrooms, in schools, on playgrounds and in other environments. This long-reaching issue can affect children’s self-esteem, social skills and more. Often it goes undetected, and in recent years it has made headlines as children have suffered serious violence and trauma due to aggression and teasing. Bullying is an escalating problem and is a key issue for anyone designing a playground.

How can we help reduce bullying frequency at recess and on the playground? Most people don’t consider design in prevention programs, but good design as well as good resources can help discourage playground aggression. Using every tool in our arsenal can help ensure children have a fun, safe and joyous childhood, free of violence and the trauma name-calling can cause.

Playground Bullying Statistics

Not all parents realize just how much of a problem bullying can be on playgrounds. However, the statistics paint a rather grim picture:

  • 47 percent of third-grade students have been bullied, with incidents starting as early as kindergarten.
  • 20 percent of students in grades 9-12 and 28 percent of students in grades 6-12 reported having been bullied, according to nobullying.com.
  • 70.6 percent of students have seen aggression happen, and 30 percent have admitted to bullying others.

The vast majority of children, then, will see someone harassed, and almost half will experience bullying themselves. It doesn’t have to be this prevalent.

What Is Bullying?

Quite simply, when we talk about this subject, we’re speaking of harassment, aggression and other negative behaviors which target specific children. Common forms include:

  • Name-calling
  • Rumor spreading
  • Threats
  • Physical aggression
  • Theft
  • Exclusion
  • Isolation

Bullying can take many forms. It can mean children are isolated because falsehoods are spread about them. It can mean they are teased or called disparaging names. It can mean their lunch money or possessions are stolen or damaged, or they are prevented from playing with others. In extreme cases, it can escalate to pushing, shoving and even assault. There have been instances where children have been killed or permanently injured by peers, so it is a crucial problem to address.

Unfortunately, aggression among children can escalate. What can begin as name-calling or teasing on the playground eventually becomes pushing and even physical harm. In many cases, this type of situation can be extremely isolating, whether or not isolation is a tactic used by perpetrators specifically. Feeling as though they don’t belong and being told they cannot play with other children can make it harder for children to develop strong friendships and the social skills they need. It can also make them feel alone, helpless and hopeless.

Bullying has serious and negative effects on both perpetrators and survivors, and many people are surprised to find out just how widespread the long-term effects can be. Those who are targeted may suffer from anxiety, school avoidance, loneliness and other issues. They may want to avoid school because they fear their aggressors, and this can lead to worsening grades and school performance.

The stress and anxiety can also lead to school avoidance and lower grades, which can have a long-term impact on career prospects. Feelings of loneliness and anxiety can even produce depression and physical symptoms, such as stomachaches and headaches. Of course, physical confrontation can lead to fractures, bruising and other physical harm.

The Short- and Long-Term Effects

Bullying can have a severe impact on mental health, social well-being and sense of self. People who have been targeted may not understand why they have been chosen as a target and may question what they have done wrong. They may feel “not as good” or may assume certain characteristics make them unlovable or unlikable. They may suffer from poor self-esteem.

In some cases, these feelings can persist even after the incidents stop, which is one reason simply moving to a new school or neighborhood may not help. Even as adults, individuals may remember and keenly feel the pain they experienced as children who were singled out by others. Worse, these incidents can impact life prospects. Someone who feels less confidence or is depressed due to childhood trauma may not live up to their full potential.

They may be more timid about reaching out to others or pursuing accomplishments because they have been put down or teased so often. This can become a vicious cycle, where students underperform and achieve less because they try less, getting fewer good results.

Children who witness bullying experience trauma, too:

  • They may fear they will be targeted next or feel pressure or anxiety about the aggressor’s next target.
  • They may feel severely pressured not to tell adults or may feel trapped between wanting to alert adults and not wanting to get in trouble with perpetrators.
  • They may feel guilty as a result of not coming forward soon enough or not doing enough to help.
  • Some children who witness name-calling or even aggressive incidents may join in because they’re afraid of being targeted and then end up feeling guilty or upset at their own behavior.
The Impact on Bullies

Bullies themselves, too, suffer. Perpetrators may have anger management problems, poor social skills or other issues. Because they aren’t using better options for controlling anger or poor social skills, they may fail to develop the skills they need to succeed in life.

They are also more likely to continue violence as they grow older, with aggression sometimes escalating. The escalating violence can eventually land them in trouble with the law or cause them to get expelled, affecting their chances when it comes to college and careers.

What Does Playground Design Have to Do With Bullying?

Much has been written about the causes of childhood name-calling and there is much debate about the best ways to try to encourage better behavior. It certainly a topic many parents think about and talk about. In these discussions, playground design is not often listed as a major consideration. However, it should be.

When most parents think about keeping children safe, they think about better supervision or awareness campaigns, or they consider addressing the complex social issues that cause teasing, isolation, name-calling and aggression. Certainly it’s true that developing social skills early or addressing issues of socioeconomic inequalities and other complex problems could help with bullying. However, playground design is an accessible and readily available tool that can help reduce instances of conflict for a number of reasons.

Promoting Inclusivity and Safety

Inclusive and safe environments are an important way to address the issue, according to stopbullying.com, a resource developed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Identifying a High-Risk Area

Playgrounds are considered one of the higher-risk areas for conflict between children. By addressing playground design, schools and communities may see overall rates of aggression between children reduced.

Targeting this specific area can also translate to less aggression elsewhere. If children get along on the playground, this may result in more cooperation and friendliness in the classroom as well.

Emphasizing Togetherness

Playgrounds provide a unique opportunity to bring children together. All children like to play, and this can be a great equalizer. In the classroom, children may see differences based on school performance, age and other measures because classrooms tend to quantify childhood performance.

Playgrounds are a unique space because they bring together children who may not be together in the classroom. Because of this, playgrounds can be a place for children to find common ground. Most children spend time together at recess, and creating a space where children can play together amicably during breaks can mean more cooperation even after recess is over.

Eliminating Differences

Playgrounds can emphasize differences, and perceived differences are cited as one of the most common causes of conflict, according to nobullying.com. Children who cannot use a piece of playground equipment, for example, may be teased or called names. A playground designed for older children may emphasize age differences.

By creating a more inclusive playground, eliminating these differences can help children play together and get to know each other. This can help bridge some of the gaps that cause isolation, name-calling and other negative behaviors.

Improving Supervision

Only 20 to 30 percent of students who are targeted report the incidents, again according to nobullying.com, so creating spaces where unsocial behavior can’t be hidden are important to disrupt the cycle. Playground design that emphasizes open spaces can make supervision easier. Bullies can’t hide their actions as readily in an open playground concept where caregivers can easily spot children.

Since the vast majority of bullying incidents are not reported, discouraging incidents needs to be an area of focus. A well-designed space also means adults are more likely to be the ones who spot bullying. This is important since it can help eliminate the upset and fear child bystanders may feel when they see bullying happen, but don’t have the skills to prevent or stop it. Good playground design takes the responsibility of addressing bullying from children and puts it on adults.

Encouraging New Friendships

Playgrounds can be spaces where children who have been targeted before feel safe and included, which is important for kids trying to move past previous encounters with aggressors.

For children who are targeted in the classroom, an inclusive playground can provide a place where they feel safe and where they can build friendships with other students. This can be crucial in rebuilding trust and confidence.

Cultivating Better Social Skills

Playgrounds are where many students learn social skills and conflict resolution, so playgrounds designed to create inclusive and productive play can teach good social skills.

If children can learn to cooperate through effective playground design, they may develop better ways for dealing with others, as well as with conflicts and anger. This can help perpetrators avoid the very factors that lead them to target others.

What Playground Design Features Can Help Reduce Risk of Bullying?

Since playground design can be an important way to lessen bullying, how exactly can we implement design features to help address this problem? There are many options:

1. Ensure Clear Visibility for Good Supervision

An open concept with good visibility means there are fewer places where bullies can hide and perpetrate violence. Good visibility creates a safer environment for everyone. One way to make a playground safer for all children is to create many places for caregivers and supervisors. Make these spaces comfortable, with a good view of the entire playground.

Benches and other seating areas close to wider walkways designed to be accessible for wheelchairs ensure caregivers can rest comfortably. Shaded areas over benches and seating areas can encourage caregivers and supervisory staff to keep an eye on children. Keeping benches and areas close to wider and wheelchair-accessible paths guarantees supervisors and caregivers can assist children who need a little extra help.

2. Offer the Right Playground Features for Everyone

Gender- and age-appropriate play equipment can ensure everyone feels included. When children aren’t excluded because of their age or gender, it becomes easier for them to play together as a group, which allows them to get to get to know each other and can help reduce bullying based on perceived differences.

3. Choose Playground Equipment Designed to Encourage Non-Aggressive Play

Playground equipment designed to encourage peaceful and nonaggressive play is an important part of good playground design. ‘Round The Bend platforms from Playworld, for example, are uneven platforms designed to encourage children to run around and work on their balance, but they don’t encourage wargames or games based on aggression.

OriginsTM Boulders encourage climbing and other activities without aggression. When looking at playground equipment, consider whether the equipment would encourage any type of violent or aggressive play. Pieces encouraging war or other aggressive maneuvers could potentially encourage rougher play, which can escalate.

4. Look for Playground Equipment Designed to Encourage Cooperative Play

Look for playground equipment that encourages children to play together. For example:

  • The Picnic Boulder from Playworld encourages children to sit together and talk easily around a table. There’s also a place for children with wheelchairs to pull up.
  • The Storefront Panel encourages children to play together, with one person selling and another person acting as a store customer.

Cooperative play ensures children get a chance to socialize and to work together, which can help build bridges, even across differences, reducing the risk of conflict and helping to build friendships. When children pretend play with a storefront, for example, they need to cooperate, agree on rules and work together. This can help build social skills and friendships more than pieces of equipment designed for individual play.

5. Design Playground Equipment to Encourage Structured Play

Classic playground equipment such as slides and swings can be a lot of fun. However, equipment designed to offer structured play can make it easier for children still developing their social skills to learn to play with others without stifling their creativity. For example:

  • The Rhythm Wall from Playworld lets children make sounds together or alone using drum, chime, bell and horn panels. Children can be encouraged in their creativity by creating different sounds or rhythms, but it is pretty clear what they can do with the panels.
  • The Tic-Tac-Toe Panel and other games from Playworld require children to agree on the rules and play together. This type of structured play can be encouraging for children who are developing social skills.

It becomes easier for children to understand how to interact with the playground equipment and with each other when using structured play.

6. Use Playground Design to Eliminate Unsupervised Areas

Playground design that allows caregivers to see every piece of equipment and reduces low-visibility areas can make it easier to ensure proper supervision. This makes it harder to hide problems on the playground and encourages children to act their best because they know aggression will be seen.

A playground design that has multiple levels for play but which offers caregivers seats and benches at a higher level is ideal. It allows caregivers to look down on the playground, which can be useful. Another option is to have the entire playground surrounded by inclusive and wide walkways, allowing caregivers to walk around in groups and supervise the entire area at all times.

7. Engage All Senses With Playground Activities

Playground equipment can include:

  • Tactile playground equipment
  • Auditory playground equipment
  • Nature play areas
  • Visual playground equipment

Engaging all senses keeps children more interested, and this can help reduce aggression caused by boredom. Including playground equipment appealing to all senses is more stimulating and inclusive. Children don’t feel bored, because even if they don’t like visual playground equipment, they may enjoy nature or tactile areas. More engaging equipment means children spend their time playing, and this can encourage potential perpetrators to play instead of targeting other children out of boredom or frustration.

8. Understand Why Problems Happen When Developing a Playground

Understanding why conflict happens can help you create a design that can help stop bullying at recess. A bully at school may want to become popular by exerting power over a student seen as “different” or “weak.” By including inclusive activities that encourage children to excel at their own levels, you can help children avoid being seen as weak or different.

They can continue to play, helping to create more similarities than differences. By creating inclusive playground equipment, you are also providing a space where every child can succeed, meaning bullies with poor social skills don’t have to rely on aggression to feel important. They can master playground games instead.

It’s also important to keep in mind students who are targeted by perpetrators can also turn into bullies. Bullying becomes a self-perpetuating behavior. By creating playgrounds that discourage aggression, it is possible to work to break this cycle.

Creating an inclusive playground space can reduce exclusion, which is a common tool bullies use. By showing that everyone can use the playground, inclusive spaces can build empathy and forge bonds while also reducing the isolation that uninclusive playgrounds unintentionally cause.

9. Set up and Post Playground Rules Designed to Minimize Bullying

Clearly posted rules that prohibit pushing, shoving and other undesirable behaviors are important. Children appreciate clear rules and structures, and it makes it easier for them to report aggressive behavior on the playground. If children have clear rules about no shoving, for example, they may feel more comfortable coming forward when they do see shoving take place.

Clear rules also encourage kids to be on their best behavior. When children know they cannot curse or name-call, they may find it easier to follow the rules if they are reminded of them. Of course, posted rules also give children good motivation to obey.

10. Create a Playground That Reduces the Risk of Conflict

Make sure there is enough space and enough “cool” pieces of equipment to ensure all children get to play, since scarcity or overcrowding can lead to conflict. Problems on the playground can occur if there aren’t enough stimulating pieces of equipment, causing undue competition for the best pieces of equipment.

Try to include plenty of areas for fun exploration and multiple activities for all levels. In addition, create cozy or quieter spaces for children who need to wind down or who require less stimulation from time to time.

How Inclusive Playground Design Can Make a Difference

Inclusive play and inclusive playground design are essential components of making sure a playground can help cut down on bullying. Inclusive play:

  • Allows a greater number of children to use the playground, including those living with conditions affecting their mobility or function.
  • Reduces the chance some children will be excluded from play because they cannot use the playground.
  • Allows all kids to play, allowing them to get to know each other despite any perceived differences in a social setting, fostering understanding.
  • Reduces any perceived “differences” by making sure all children can play, which lessens the chance that children will be targeted or picked on.
  • Helps avoid children being separated into cliques or groups based on access to the playground, creating fewer barriers. With fewer strongly divided groups, it becomes easier for children to cooperate and play together, even across distances and age groups.
  • Helps to prevent smaller children from being bullied because of their size by allowing them to play with other kids in the playground.
  • Creates playground spaces that can be used by children of different languages, cultures and communication abilities.

Inclusive play provides an opportunity for children to communicate and socialize. This minimizes their differences and creates common ground, fostering an understanding that can translate into the classroom and other areas.

How to Create an Inclusive Playground to Discourage Bullying

Creating an inclusive playground has many benefits. It allows all children, regardless of mobility and other conditions, to use the playground to the best of their abilities. It ensures all children get to have fun, and it helps your playground lessen the risk of bullying by making sure no one feels excluded and no one is singled out as “different.”

An inclusive playground is designed both for able-bodied children and children with disabilities. To build an inclusive playground, you will want to do the following:

1. Use Unitary Surfacing

Poured-in-place playground surfacing, rubber tile surfacing, loose fill playground surfacing such as engineered wood fiber or rubber mulch and SMARTE® playground surfacing can help protect the investment you’ve made in your playground.

Quality surfacing can also help prevent injuries caused by falls and make it easier for children and caregivers with mobility equipment to use and access all pieces of equipment. In addition, playground mats under high-traffic areas can help protect surfacing and offer an extra layer of protection.

2. Create Clear Routes Between Spaces to Avoid Collisions

Between each piece of equipment, allow for wide-enough spaces to allow children to move together in groups. It should be easy for children to run and walk between pieces of equipment without bumping into each other, since bumping into each other can cause conflict.

Keep in mind children with mobility equipment such as wheelchairs also need to be able to move easily between equipment. Make sure any course created through the playground is accessible with crutches, wheelchairs and other equipment.

3. Cluster Similar Activities to Encourage Children of Different Abilities to Play

Gliders and swings can be placed together so children can move together. Different types of music equipment and auditory equipment designed to create musical noise can be grouped together to allow children of different ages to use their age-specific equipment together. Quieter spaces and cozy spaces should be in a separate area of the playground where children who become easily overwhelmed can sit quietly together.

Children may find common ground and overcome bullying when they focus on their similarities rather than their differences. Group similar equipment together to make it possible for children to play together despite any differences.

Grouping similar activities can also reduce conflict caused by noise and incompatibility. For example, grouping musical equipment and noise-making equipment far from the cozy and quiet spaces ensures children who want to make music and children who need quiet are not in conflict. This grouping can allow for a more harmonious use of playground equipment.

4. Create Spaces for Elevated Play, With a Larger Payoff for Getting to That Space

Elevated spaces can be a lot of fun, but they can also pose challenges. Someone who has to work a little bit more to get to an elevated space needs to have a greater payoff. For example, if someone uses a wheelchair to get to the top of the slide, there should be more to do at the top than simply slide down, since sliding only takes a few seconds and then requires considerable effort to get back up to the same level.

Elevated play can be a lot of fun for children of all ages, but make sure there is fun for everyone involved. The Unity® Slide Climber from Playworld, for example, offers a meeting space at the top of the slide as well as other challenges.

5. Create Multiple Levels of Challenge to Engage Children of All Ability Levels

Children who are bored because they’re not challenged may be more likely to lash out, especially if they’re still developing their social skills. Keeping children engaged and interested in play means they focus on fun and creativity rather than on others. To help encourage cooperation and discourage bullying, create challenges for children of all ability levels. This may mean creating multisensory playground areas where children of different abilities and ages can play.

For example, a textured surface with a space for playing music can encourage children to make noise and touch the textured surface. This can be a great option if they’re tired out from swinging or gliding on gliders. Some pieces of equipment can appeal to many children with different levels of ability. The Roller Slither Slide from Playworld, for example, is a full-body, tactile experience with texture, a slide and sound.

6. Allow for Different Zones of Activity, Including Quiet Zones

Zones with nature activities, auditory activities and more physical activities let children run around and try different options. However, it is also important to include quieter zones for children who get overwhelmed.

This can help discourage children from getting aggressive because of that overwhelmed feeling or because they are upset by too much noise. It can also be a useful place to take a child struggling with cooperation. A bit of quiet time with others who are also quiet can help defuse a difficult situation.

7. Make Sure Everyone Can Access the “Coolest” Equipment to Reduce Exclusion

Think carefully about the “coolest” pieces of equipment. If only a few students can play on these items at a time, exclusion and bullying can happen. If there are only a few pieces of cool equipment, this can also create competition on the playground, which can inadvertently lead to bullying.

Unfortunately, having only one cool piece of equipment and limiting access to it can also place children with mobility issues at an increased risk of bullying. Children living with disabilities are two or three more times more likely to be bullied when compared with other students. Creating a safe playground can help discourage bullying among all children. It can also ensure children who are living with mobility issues or other perceived differences are less likely to be targeted specifically.

If possible, create several pieces of equipment that can be seen as “cool” and ensure they are accessible by as many children as possible. If possible, link the coolest piece of equipment to other pieces that are also attractive to encourage larger numbers of children to play together.

For example, Funky Animals and Spring Riders can be grouped together so lots of children can play or be placed near Animal Tunes panels by Playworld. This allows some children to play with the animals and some to make animal noises at the same time. Rather than having children competing for the Spring Riders, children can switch up or try to coordinate movements and sounds.

Your Options for Design

Playground design, especially inclusive playground design, has the potential to reduce the risk of fighting and disagreements on playgrounds. It can create a more inclusive field of play, meaning children are encouraged to participate and play together rather than focus on differences.

Inclusive playground design and smart designs can help reduce perceived differences and can help children get to know each other, which can help reduce bullying both on the playground and in other spaces. Good playground design can also minimize hidden spaces where harassment between children take can take place.

Additionally, good playground design addresses some of the root causes of conflict. If perpetrators are frustrated or can’t access pieces of playground equipment, they may be more likely to act out. Inclusive design means providing stimulating components that allow children of all ability levels to take part in play.

This results in less frustration, meaning children are more likely to focus on play rather than on aggression. Since underdeveloped social skills can also cause bullying, smart playground design with safe and quiet spaces as well as cooperative playground equipment can help encourage good interpersonal skills, and thus help reduce the risk problems long-term. For a child who has been targeted before, inclusive design can help them get to use playground equipment with other children, creating new friendships and building confidence.

Use Our Resources to Create Your Inclusive Playground

Visit Playworld’s resource section to find playground bullying prevention resources. You’ll find ideas for your inclusive playground and more information about inclusive play spaces. We are a leader in inclusive play, and we have details about funding as well as specific equipment to help you build a kinder, more inclusive play space.

Playworld can be your partner in developing an inclusive playground, which helps encourage positive behavior on your play area.

The post Building a Safer Playground: Using Playground Design to Minimize Bullying appeared first on Playworld® Blog.

Extraordinary Playscapes Kicks off its Spring Season with PlayCubes™ in San Francisco Body:

The Design Museum San Francisco’s Extraordinary Playscapes exhibition opened with one of its largest displays on April 6, 2017 at the San Francisco Main Library’s Fisher Children’s Center. The new exhibition provides an overview of more than forty exceptional play spaces, various interactive components, and a comprehensive history of play. The display is accompanied by an outdoor installation of Playworld’s PlayCubes at Civic Center Plaza, adjacent to the library.

At the opening reception, San Francisco Parks Supervisor Phil Ginsburg described his vision of a new Civic Plaza. The day following the opening reception, PlayCubes creator Richard Dattner spoke about the history of cuboctahedron-shaped structures.

Playworld partnered with the Design Museum San Francisco, the Fisher Children’s Center at the San Francisco Main Library, and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department to bring its PlayCubes installation to the city. This is the third Design Museum installation from Playworld, with past installations in Portland, Oregon and Boston. The temporary PlayCubes installation in Boston’s Chinatown Park was so well-received by the community that it was made permanent by virtuously unanimous feedback from the community! The exhibit will be open in San Francisco through July 8, 2017, and then will move onto Chicago.

If you’re in the San Francisco area between now and July 8, stop by to see and explore PlayCubes in person or join us for one of the following events:

June 22, 6:30pm: “UNITE: Why Play?” — A panel discussion on the importance of play, featuring Dr. Stuart Brown, National Institute for Play; Phil Ginsburg, San Francisco Recreation & Park; Gwen Gordon, Gwen Gordon Play; and Missy Benson, Playworld. Click here for more information.

June 24: Kid’s Workshop — A child-driven community event where kids can get creative, collaborate, and design their own playgrounds.

For more information about programming and events related to Extraordinary Playscapes, visit designmuseumsf.org.

The post Extraordinary Playscapes Kicks off its Spring Season with PlayCubes™ in San Francisco appeared first on Playworld® Blog.

Link: https://playworld.com/blog/extraor

Author: EME DEBUG --> Title: Extraordinary Playscapes Kicks off its Spring Season with PlayCubes™ in San Francisco Body:

The Design Museum San Francisco’s Extraordinary Playscapes exhibition opened with one of its largest displays on April 6, 2017 at the San Francisco Main Library’s Fisher Children’s Center. The new exhibition provides an overview of more than forty exceptional play spaces, various interactive components, and a comprehensive history of play. The display is accompanied by an outdoor installation of Playworld’s PlayCubes at Civic Center Plaza, adjacent to the library.

At the opening reception, San Francisco Parks Supervisor Phil Ginsburg described his vision of a new Civic Plaza. The day following the opening reception, PlayCubes creator Richard Dattner spoke about the history of cuboctahedron-shaped structures.

Playworld partnered with the Design Museum San Francisco, the Fisher Children’s Center at the San Francisco Main Library, and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department to bring its PlayCubes installation to the city. This is the third Design Museum installation from Playworld, with past installations in Portland, Oregon and Boston. The temporary PlayCubes installation in Boston’s Chinatown Park was so well-received by the community that it was made permanent by virtuously unanimous feedback from the community! The exhibit will be open in San Francisco through July 8, 2017, and then will move onto Chicago.

If you’re in the San Francisco area between now and July 8, stop by to see and explore PlayCubes in person or join us for one of the following events:

June 22, 6:30pm: “UNITE: Why Play?” — A panel discussion on the importance of play, featuring Dr. Stuart Brown, National Institute for Play; Phil Ginsburg, San Francisco Recreation & Park; Gwen Gordon, Gwen Gordon Play; and Missy Benson, Playworld. Click here for more information.

June 24: Kid’s Workshop — A child-driven community event where kids can get creative, collaborate, and design their own playgrounds.

For more information about programming and events related to Extraordinary Playscapes, visit designmuseumsf.org.

The post Extraordinary Playscapes Kicks off its Spring Season with PlayCubes™ in San Francisco appeared first on Playworld® Blog.