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PlaygroundEquipment Blog
Monday, August 11, 2014

10 Easy Ways to Help You Build A Preschool Playground

Kids are looking forward to playtime, since they are able to have fun and their curiosity drives them to play more. The Shasta Children and Families First Commission (SCFFC) research shows that playgrounds for kids aged 0-5 provide learning opportunities and helps develop a child’s emotional, motor, and social skills at play. A playground offers different kinds of play that helps kids grow in these areas and skill sets in their lives.

It is important to build a kindergarten play area that is safe, accessible, and well-planned to further help in the kids’ development at an early age. You need to consider even the smallest details in order to avoid accidents from happening inside the playground. To help you on planning your very own preschool playground, here are 10 steps that you can follow to create the best and safe play area for preschool kids:

1. Determine the exact location and size for your playground. If you are planning to setup your playground outdoors, The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Childcare and Early Education (NRC)  suggests that the site that you’ve selected should be easily reached by a route free from hazards and should not be farther than one-eighth mile from the school building itself. The said area should be at a minimum of seventy-five square feet for each child that uses the playground; if not, it is highly recommended that an indoor play area be installed as well to meet the ideal play space requirements.

For indoor play areas, it should still meet the seventy-five square feet requirement and it must provide the play activities just like those that are conducted outdoors. It is important to provide a sufficient play area for children to freely run, jump, and climb while avoiding collisions with other kids.

2. Build a safe ground surface for kids. To reduce the possibility of life-threatening head injuries at play areas, there should be a soft material for your ground cover. Effective ground covers for a safe play include plastic and foam matting, wood chips and rubber tiles. Be sure that the ground cover extends to 12 inches deep. Avoid using pea gravel since there is a risk that children might swallow these pieces of gravel.

The Poured-In-Place 2 Layer rubber can be applied indoors and outdoors and this can also protect kids from falling as high as 12 feet. Using these can help you become free of maintenance worries, since this material doesn’t need ongoing replenishing and raking compared to loose fill substance.

3. Decide on your playground theme. A suitable playground theme is needed to help you out on picking the right equipment for your play area. This is done to improve the over-look of the playground to encourage kids for an active play time.

Encourage kids’ creativity by allowing them to play in a fun, playground theme.
Install a town fire adventure play set that can help kids imagine that they are firefighters, ready to put the fire out from a burning house which also offers a perfect setting for interaction with other kids and educating them more about fire hazards. Alongside this, you can also install a castle-inspired play set to encourage the kids’ creative and fairytale imagination of being a prince or princess in a vast kingdom  that will fill their curious minds.

Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, a cognitive psychologist from the New York University (NYU),  states in his article that systematic research has showed clear evidence and benefits of children’s involvement in pretend play or imaginative play, especially with kids aged two and a half to kids aged six or seven. He further points out that imaginative games precede the importance of self-regulation in kids, such as delayed gratification, empathy and reduced aggression. Research even stresses that kids use toys to introduce certain persons or scenarios and while taking on different roles, this opportunity allows them to communicate more, be more empathizing, and solve problems.

These playsets are fit for both indoor and outdoor use since they are easy to assemble and break down, if there’s a need to transfer the play set into a different location. Do take note that the play equipment should be installed at least 12 feet (3.7 meters) apart from each other so that kids have more free space to play. Through these play sets, children can have the perfect opportunity to socialize and engage with other kids through the fun and interactive play environment that these play sets provide.

4. Check the material component of your play items. For kids to have an enjoyable and safe play experience, play materials should be durable and should not easily wear out due to certain weather conditions. For metal equipments, it should not have rust nor should it have loose parts and missing screws. More so, play equipment should not be made up of toxic materials which can harm a child’s health.

Use play sets that are made up of plastics for a safer and more enjoyable playing time for kids.
For wood materials, they should be rot and insect-resistant such as redwood or cedar, and it should be treated regularly to avoid decaying wood. Should you opt for heavy-duty and UV plastic material, consider the Original Kids Center 3 play system that is made up of plastic that makes the product stronger and more safe for kids to enjoy.

5. Secure stationary play structures. These structures should have an empty zone extending to 6 feet for the kids to freely move around and play. The play set’s height should be ideally not higher than six feet so kids can safely reach them. Check if the foundations of your equipment are safely secured, with no loose nuts, bolts or screws that are sticking out and can break down the equipment which in turn can cause potential harm to children when playing.

For a secured play set, the Toddler Town Activity Cottage for kids 2-5 years old, is one of your safe bet since its unit size is only 4' 4" x 4' 5", not exceeding the ideal height for play sets. During installation, do not forget to check on the play set’s foundation, which must be securely anchored for the kids’ safe play.

6. Consider Safe Climbing Areas for Kids. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Public Playground Safety Handbook notes that young preschool kids can have a difficult time using certain climbers since they have not yet fully developed the physical skills needed for climbing such as upper body coordination. On the other hand, older preschool kids aging from 4-5 years old can use climbers that are flexible such as arch climbers.

Play sets with climbing areas must be flexible for kids to use.
To have a protected climbing area for kids, be sure to install a play set that offers a unique and safe climbing experience for kids. The Rock Out Play System offers not just a spiraling slide, but also a beanstalk climber and rock climber that the kids need to pass through to reach the decks and access the slides. Always ensure that you have a safe equipment for safe climbing purposes to avoid kids from hurting themselves by falling.

7. Have an Available Shading Area for Kids. There should be an available shading area for kids to be protected from the intense heat of the sun. To be able to incorporate shade in your play design effectively, you can utilize existing trees to serve as a shade, install man made structures to create additional shade, or design play structures with an added purpose of providing shading, such as elevated platforms with additional shaded space under.

As an alternative to traditional shade structures, you can instantly and personally add a shade to your existing playground structure. The Mounted Shade Structure is made up of a shade fabric that you can install on 5-inch diameter posts and can safely protect kids from the sun while they are actively playing.

8. Install Fences to Secure Play Area. When setting up your playground, be sure to install fences to set boundaries for kids to stay inside the play area. This is to avoid kids from potential hazards such as road access, open bodies of water, or trees with bees. A good fence should include a soft material or wood and should not block the view of parents and teachers when checking out on the children.

9. Place Protective Gates Around the Playground. To further ensure that kids are safe while playing, do not forget to install protective gates that are strategically placed around the play area to avoid children instantly leaving the play space on their own.

10. Put Up Signages and Labels inside the Play Space. Rules should be set in order to maintain a safe and fun playing area for kids. You can put up a general playing house rules at the entrance so that parents and teachers are fully aware of these. Also, post signs on every equipment to guide everyone on the age appropriateness of the play equipment and its proper use.

Design your playground sign to effectively communicate rules for safe play.
To catch the attention of parents and kids effectively before playing, choose to have a custom-made playground sign so that you can use pictures or symbols that will easily identify with kids. This will help you ensure that every person in the play area is fully aware of the rules and safety precautions that are set.

Prepping Preschool Playgrounds for Better Kids
An effective playground is one that encourages free and safe play, while helping preschool-age kids develop the necessary skills that are needed as they grow up. They can have a successful mind while playing interactive games, be physically stronger, and gain intellectual skills through social interaction. Preschool play areas give them these kinds of opportunities, and if not built the right way, will hinder a child’s personal development while at play. Playground Equipment offers a wide range of safe and age-appropriate products that can assist you in creating your very own preschool playground to further improve and accelerate all the learning areas of children that are fueled by the nature of play.

Learn about the author: Jennifer Holmes

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