Different Types of Playgrounds for All Kinds of Growth and Adventures

May 22, 2020

You don’t have to be a child development professional to know the role playgrounds play in pretty much all areas of a child’s emotional and physical well-being. The ABCreative team can tell stories about their childhood playground adventures. We imagine you can, too. Out on the playground is where we first learn to negotiate, take turns, share, push and learn limits, lead, follow and take steps toward independence while under the watchful eyes of nearby adults.

Children’s self-esteem is boosted when they master physical skills, such as swinging, balancing and climbing. Personal development occurs as they enhance skills like playing, communicating and cooperating with other children and adults on the playground.

Playing is more than play. It can turn children into healthy, well-adjusted adults. While structured forms of play (blocks, puzzles, games, etc.) evolve with children as they age, spontaneous free play is one of the most beneficial in terms of learning development. Not to mention physical activity reduces the potential for certain diseases, weight gain and low bone mass.

ABCreative has designed and installed playgrounds, ranging in features from traditional to cutting edge in both small and large areas for:

  • Real estate development and community organizations for neighborhoods
  • Local and state parks departments
  • Businesses (restaurants, gyms, play zones, etc.)
  • Museums and science centers
  • Schools
  • Places of worship

Ensuring the playground equipment is exciting, motivating and challenging to keep children engaged is critical. But, tailoring the equipment to children’s different stages of learning is just as important. School playgrounds are easily customized to the children’s age group and needs. However, public playgrounds must appeal to a broader age group and developmental levels.

That’s where different types of playgrounds come in.

Inclusive Playgrounds
Some children with disabilities or developmental differences do not interact with playgrounds in the same way as other children. Physical accessibility exchanges sand and steps for flat rubber ground and ramps. And, those on the autism spectrum must have fewer stimulating areas where fewer children can play at once. A playground designed without considering these children’s needs may not be accessible, much less interesting to them.

Inclusive playgrounds are designed to be accessible to all children. Three primary components of inclusive play are:

  1. Physical accessibility
  2. Age and developmental appropriateness
  3. Sensory-stimulating activity

A truly inclusive playground offers more than wheelchair or mobility device accommodation as stipulated by ADA rules. The most successful inclusive playgrounds combine different difficulty levels, challenges and play experiences for those with and without special needs. These playgrounds include parallel play, encouraging children of all ages and all abilities to build on their own skills and strengths while interacting with one another.

Natural Playgrounds
Natural playgrounds combine natural materials, features and indigenous vegetation with creative landforms to replicate natural, environmental objects. Play components may include sculptures, environmental art, trees, shrubs, grasses, flowers, lichens, mosses, boulders or rock structures, stone, willow, wooden fences, textured pathways and water features.

Natural playgrounds challenge and fascinate children as they discover the world around them. ABCreative’s team takes advantage of your area’s natural topography, such as hills and mounds, to design a natural, imaginative playground. Then, we compliment it with innovative natural play elements, including climbing walls and nets, rocks, and more for more challenging play and adventure.

Fitness Playgrounds
Fitness playgrounds encourage healthy lifestyle choices as children push themselves, compete against each other and develop determination, strength, balance and agility. Challenging physical obstacles and fitness circuits work the entire body to build muscle and cardio strength.

Fitness playgrounds aren’t just for kids. They can be designed exclusively for adults or have both child- and adult-sized equipment.

Adventure Playgrounds
Adventure playgrounds have emerged as the anti-sterile play area. Fear of injury and lawsuits created a standard-issue playground, but in recent years, adults are leading the charge for a more adventurous approach much to children’s delight. There have been studies conducted that prove even in a “riskier” environment, children are apt to make “smart” decisions. Adventure playgrounds not only offer more exciting play, but also support positive, responsible decision making.

Each adventure playground should be a unique environment, tailored to a community’s needs, which means there is no set blueprint to follow. However, there are some important principles and essential elements that good adventure playgrounds have in common.

The adventure play area should offer a variety of spaces, including challenging play structures and features; places to “chill out,” nature and planted spaces, water and sand play, informal sports field, accessible play structures, loose materials and objects that serve as tools—the goal being for children to experience a variety of play activities and change their play surroundings as they see fit. Another aspect of an adventure playground is that there are nooks and crannies where children can play out of adults’ sight.

Combining Types of Playgrounds
ABCreative has combined elements of all the different types of playgrounds to meet our clients’ exact specifications with some pretty fantastic results. When different types of playgrounds come together in one, it achieves the goal of having a playground—being a place that people come together and are happier and healthier for it.

For whatever type of playground you need, consult with ABCreative to create and construct it.

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