Planning the perfect school playground is easy when you have the right tools.
Follow these five easy steps to create the ultimate playground for children in your community and beyond.
- Envision Your Play Area
A great playground will complement your school unique personality and be a destination for years to come.
Work with a landscape architect or playground consultant for help in laying out an efficient and exciting design that follows accessibility and safety guidelines to ensure you create a beautiful playground that is safe, fun and comfortable for all visitors.
Get started by defining objectives for your play area:
* What ages and abilities will use this play area?
* How many visitors will play at once?
* Are there unique historical characteristics, a color scheme or theme you’d like to incorporate?
* Do you need additional amenities, such as shade, benches or waste receptacles?
- Analyze Your Site
The characteristics of your site, including both natural and man-made elements, can greatly impact the design of your playground.
A playground consultant will work with you to analyze your site to make the most of the natural topography, nearby trees and shrubbery, and existing walking paths to create a beautiful play environment.
Consider the following when choosing your playground site:
* Will the slope and soil conditions of your site allow for proper drainage?
* Is there existing vegetation that can be incorporated into your design?
* Does your site receive high levels of wind or precipitation or hot afternoon sun?
* Can the playground be located near existing amenities, such as parking, restrooms and walking/biking paths?
- Design Your Playground Site
Now that you’ve envisioned your playground and assessed your site, it’s time to create a detailed budget and design a playground that will meet the needs of your school.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends separate areas for ages 6 to 23 months, 2- to 5-year-olds, and school-age children. Consider designing separate play areas for all age groups that may visit your playground. Be sure to consider other design elements:
* Do you want your playground to have a modern look, mimic the environment or carry out a theme?
* What freestanding play elements will you incorporate?
* Spinners, swings or seesaws?
* How much challenge do you want to incorporate?
* What inclusive elements—ramps, transfer points, sensory play, music—will your design have?
* Are you designing for future phases so it’s easier to enhance your playground down the road?
- Install Your Playground
You have choices when it comes to the installation of your playground.
You can recruit volunteers to help with the installation, which is supervised by a professional installer. Not only is a community-build option exciting, but it helps create a sense of pride and ownership in the new play space.
If volunteers are hard to come by, you can have a certified crew install your playground professionally.
- Enjoy and Maintain Your Playground
When your playground is ready for public use, host a grand opening party to welcome visitors and thank all those involved in the process. Grand openings are a great way to celebrate all the work that went into creating the new play area.
To keep your playground looking great and safe for play, you’ll need to maintain it. Ask your playground consultant to determine the frequency of inspections and maintenance needed.
Safety Is a Top Priority
Kids are always finding new and inventive—but not necessarily safe—ways to play on or around playground equipment.
And while they may scrape an elbow or bruise a shin, it’s important to take steps to eliminate the risk of more serious mishaps.
According to the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS), playground climbers cause the most injuries to children. Often, these injuries occur because the child was using equipment designed for a different age group. Make sure you have the right equipment to fit your needs.
Additionally, the NPPS says that falls to the surface contributed to nearly 80 percent of all injuries. Playground safety surfacing provides enhanced safety and durability to create play areas where the fun never has to stop.
And don’t forget to protect kids from the harmful UV rays of the sun! Shade systems block up to 90 percent of UV rays and keep playground temperatures up to 30 degrees cooler. Even better, they add a unique aesthetic to your playground design.
This information is courtesy of Landscape Structures, www.playlsi.com. Founded in 1971, Landscape Structures is a Delano, Minn.-based manufacturer of commercial playground equipment. The employee-owned company creates innovative playground equipment for schools, parks, childcare centers, religious institutions and more to help develop healthier kids, families and communities.