Home » ExchangeEveryDay » Creating Playgrounds With Kids in Mind

ExchangeEveryDay Past Issues

<< Previous Issue | View Past Issues | | Next Issue >> ExchangeEveryDay
Creating Playgrounds With Kids in Mind
December 3, 2002

"Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them." –Francesco Guicciardini


In the Fall 2002 isue of The Director's Link from the Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National-Louis University (www.nl.edu/cecl), Vicki L. Stoecklin observes...

"When adults are outdoors they admire a healthy lawn, a nicely tended vegetable garden, and beds of beautiful flowers. When children are outdoors, they're crawling under bushes, digging in dirt and climbing anywhere their legs and sense of adventure take them. This is why outdoor areas designed by adults often fail to delight their intended audience. When we give children what they want, as opposed to what adults think they want, those outdoor play areas look entirely different than the traditional playground....

"The goal of designing children's outdoor play environments is to use the natural landscape and vegetation in the play setting ...as much as possible as the core elements of the space. The natural environment needs to read as a children's place, a world separate from adults, one that responds to a child's own sense of time and place. We call places like this discovery play gardens to distinguish them from traditional playgrounds.

"...Children value more natural landscapes and the adventure and mystery that come with hiding places and wild, spacious uneven areas. They also appreciate animals, creatures in ponds, and other living things as well as different levels and nooks and crannies, and places that provide shelter, shade, privacy, and views. Discovery play gardens should provide that, along with openness, diversity and opportunities for manipulation, exploration and experimentation.

"A discovery play garden requires a lot of gear to make it work. That doesn't mean designed gear like swings or slides, but elements like sand, water, props and naturally found objects that allow children to control and manipulate the environment. The structures in play gardens, as much as possible, should be made of natural materials such as logs, stumps and boulders, and should use the landscape in natural ways with berms and mounds....

"Outdoor play areas should flow from one area to the next, be as open-ended and simple as possible, and encourage children to use their imaginations. The space needs to be perceived by children as their space, rather than adult's space. It is also important to have continuity between the outdoor and indoor space, so that transition between the two is almost seamless and the outdoors is seen as an extension of the classroom rather than a retreat from it."

For more ideas on designing outdoor spaces, check out Jim Greenman's classic guide book, Caring Spaces, Learning Places: Children's Environments that Work, at www.ChildCareExchange.com.


Delivered five days a week containing news, success stories, solutions, trend reports, and much more.

What is ExchangeEveryDay?

ExchangeEveryDay is the official electronic newsletter for Exchange Press. It is delivered five days a week containing news stories, success stories, solutions, trend reports, and much more.

Post a Comment

Have an account? to submit your comment.


Your e-mail address will not be visible to other website visitors.

Check the box below, to help verify that you are not a bot. Doing so helps prevent automated programs from abusing this form.

Disclaimer: Exchange reserves the right to remove any comments at its discretion or reprint posted comments in other Exchange materials.