When you think about play equipment it’s tempting to think just about the obvious: climbing frames, slides, swings.
These are important of course but its not the whole story. When designing or specifying a playground you need to give some thought to those children who aren’t going to be partaking in these activities. Perhaps they have some sort of disability or maybe just don’t like that sort of thing. We’ll deal with the subject of making playgrounds inclusive for all disabilities in a future post as its complicated.
So for now what about those who would rather just sit and chat with their friends or see the playground in terms of an imagination play space? Sometimes the boisterous climbing and sliding is intimidating, so space needs to be found for those other children. You can do this by creating dens or mini playhouses within the structure, or you can bring some interactivity by having games panels set on the equipment or around it.
For the “dens” you need to balance the need for children to feel secure when they are playing in one but not compromise the security and supervision aspects. Try to avoid designing places where people can hide from the outside.
And games panels come in all sorts of designs from the basic Tic Tac Toe (noughts and crosses) to highly engineered games panels with moving parts. You can have educational panels (maps, numbers etc), imagination play panels (eg shop fronts) and musical panels which can help creativity and cooperation. They can add splash of colour too.
It can be tricky getting all the desired design elements into your playground, and sometimes compromises have to be made. But please bear in mind the needs of all the children when you do your planning.