Recess is an important part of the day for school children; a safe and age-appropriate playground is of utmost importance. The Handbook for Public Playground Safety says that playground designs must have certain elements to ensure that play stations are safe for children. The construction of each play station should pass safety requirements, and they should also undergo constant maintenance. Aside from safety concerns, playground designs should have physically challenging and interesting play stations.
Ideas for Children Under Two Years
Tiny hands and feet need play activities that stimulate the development of new abilities and skills. A playground that properly belongs in a daycare center, early childhood center or preschool institution should conform to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) guidelines. It can be outfitted with interaction equipment like talk tubes, which allow long-distance communication in the playground through tubes; sand tables for imaginative sand creations; and scooping play systems, which allow problem solving and mechanical maneuvering.
Ideas for Children Two to Five Years
Children in this age bracket are more physically active than younger children, so playground equipment should have secure footholds and handholds and soft surface coating appropriate for repeated and firmer grips. Equipment should include different panels for climbing and sliding, enclosed areas that allow imaginative play, and areas similar to clubhouses or tree houses that have tunnels, decks, roofs, ramps and bridges.
Ideas for Children Five to Twelve Years
Enjoyable play events challenging children to be quick and to engage in longer moments of physical activity suit this bracket. Having a larger area and more complex play stations can satisfy this need. Climbing and overhead equipment designed for speed and the use of strength and stamina, balance and coordination, motor sensory skills and social skills should be present. Recommended structures include climbers, slides, tree houses, bridges and ramps, bars and freestanding play stations that combine various physical activities.
Ideas for Children Thirteen Years and Higher
Middle school children require playgrounds that keep them engaged with fun and mentally stimulating play events. Outdoor gym systems, a skate park or skate board ramps, stationary bikes and steppers, gliders and climbers, bars, ramps and bridges encourage kids thirteen years and older to use their agility at play. Consider creating playgrounds that stimulate constant practice and challenges, as children at this age often get more engaged when doing activities that promote mastery of skills .
Inclusive Play refers to the inclusion of all kids into play, regardless of race, ethnicity, age and physical ability. Physically disabled children need play environments that promote sensory stimulation and provide accessibility for wheelchair-bound children. Ramps, tire swings, centipede or cat ascending climbers, crawl tunnels and stationary cyclers can provide opportunities for communication, imagination, interaction, socialization, discovery and exploration to children with mobility and processing limitations.