Information on the planning and design of playgrounds for varying age levels, including resources on safety, accessibility, equipment, surfaces, and maintenance.
References to Books and Other Media
Societal Values and Policies May Curtail Preschool Children’s Physical Activity in Child Care Centers
Copeland, Kristen; Sherman, Susan; Kendeigh, Cassandra; Kalkwarf, Heidi; and Saelens, Brian
(Pediatrics, Jan 04, 2012)
Nine focus groups with 49 child care providers (55% African American) were assembled from 34 centers (inner-city, suburban, Head Start, and Montessori) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Three main barriers to children’s physical activity in child care were identified: (1) injury concerns, (2) financial, and (3) a focus on “academics.” Stricter licensing codes intended to reduce children's injuries on playgrounds rendered playgrounds less physically challenging and interesting. In addition, some parents concerned about potential injury, requested staff to restrict playground participation for their children. Small operating margins of most child care centers limited their ability to install abundant playground equipment. Child care providers felt pressure from state mandates and parents to focus on academics at the expense of gross motor play. Because children spend long hours in care and many lack a safe place to play near their home, these barriers may limit children's only opportunity to engage in physical activity. Societal priorities for young children—safety and school readiness—may be hindering children’s physical development. In designing environments that optimally promote children’s health and development, child advocates should think holistically about potential unintended consequences of policies. [Authors' abstract]
Children's Contact with the Outdoors and Nature: A Focus on Educators and Educational Settings
(Children and Nature Network , 2012)
Compilation of articles and documents that synthesize the literature related to children’s contact with the outdoors and nature and, in many cases, highlight children’s contact as it relates to educational settings. Some articles investigate linkages between the design of children’s school environments, children’s outdoor and/or nature-related behavior, and their physical activity and weight. Some articles examine topics related to children’s outdoor spaces. 50p
How to Design a School Playground for Safety
Summarizes how to design and maintain playgrounds with safety in mind. Discusses surfaces, equipment, siting, spacing structures, and more. 1p
Developing Great Schoolyards - A Handbook for Elementary Schools.
(The 21st Century School Fund, Washington, D.C. and the Prince Charitable Trusts, Oct 2011)
Handbook explores outdoor spaces such as small athletic fields, vegetable gardens, and playgrounds that provide opportunities for physical challenges, exercise, sensory and fantasy play, organized sports and upsupervised free play. Features the District of Columbia public elementary schoolyards. Explains the qualities communities and parents should look for in schoolyards. Includes an assessment tool to rate your elementary schoolyard, and advice on how to plan and develop a quality schoolyard. 31p
Natural Environment Elevates the Learning Experience.
French, Jim; Contag, David; Sundharam, Premnath
(LandscapeOnline, Jun 2011)
DLR Group discusses ways that innovative and flexible outdoor spaces enhance the educational and social experience. Provides examples of patios, plazas, courtyards, amphitheaters, pathways, creative water and turf play environments, outdoor learning spaces, and outdoor dining. Includes case studies and photographs.
The Wheeler School. Providence, Rhode Island
(LandscapeOnline.com, Jun 2011)
Case study of the campus landscape plan for the Wheeler School, founded in 1889, an independent co-educational K-12 day school in Providence, Rhode Island. The center campus comprises gathering space for upper school students; table seating/outdoor dining adjacent to the student union; open space for recreation and games; state-of-the-art play equipment; wood play structures; and a synthetic turf field for ball playing. Includes photographs.
Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation.
(New Village Press , Nov 2010)
Guidebook for designing and building natural schoolyard environments that enhance childhood learning and play experiences while providing connection with the natural world. Intended for parents, teachers, school administrators, designers, environmentalists, and community volunteers. Explores the ways in which landscape design, architecture, child development, and nutrition converge in the schoolyard. Profusely illustrated. 288p.TO ORDER: http://www.newvillagepress.net/book/?GCOI=97660100259630
The School Site Planner.
(North Carolina Dept. of Public Instruction, Raleigh , Feb 2010)
Addresses many factors that need consideration during the process of school site selection, planning, development, and use. The guide examines not only the site selection and planning processes, but also playground planning, recreation and athletic fields planning. Specific considerations include analyses of the surrounding community or territory; building access and security; the surrounding natural environment and available support services; landscaping, utilities, and vehicular traffic; and playground equipment and safety. Final sections provide athletic field layouts for track and field events; football, soccer, and baseball fields; and basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts. Fourteen references are included. 67p.
Programme Evaluation Summary Report for Schools.
(Learning Through Landscapes, Winchester, Hampshire, United Kingdom , Mar 2009)
Reviews the work of the Royal Bank of Scotland's Supergrounds Program from its initiation in Sept 2004 through June 2010. The program gives grants to schools to improve their outdoor space and playgrounds. By the end of the Program's sixth year, 895 schools will have a new Supergrounds, giving 223,053 children access to improved outside spaces to learn and play. Over 7% of all schools in Scotland and 3% in England have received an Supergrounds award to date. The evaluations show that having a Supergrounds project increases the average time children spend learning and playing outside by 1 hour per week, per child. 13p.
Playground Injuries: Fact Sheet.
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA , Jan 19, 2009)
Briefly describes the more than 200,000 yearly playground related injuries in the United States. Statistics for types and severity of injuries, including deaths, are given, as well as costs, groups at risk, and risk factors. Includes four references. 2p.
Public Playground Safety Checklist
(U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, DC, 2009)
Each year, about 200,000 children are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for playground equipment-related injuries - an estimated 148,000 of these injuries involve public playground equipment. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offers consumers this simple checklist to make sure the public playground is a safe place to play.
References to Journal Articles
Converting School Playgrounds to Community Parks
Athletic Business; , p63-64 ; Aug 2012
Cities capitalize on existing schoolyards to provide more opportunities for physical activity.
A Genius Idea
EDC Magazine; May 24, 2012
Description and photos of the outdoor play and learn area at All Saints School in Norwalk, Connecticut that promotes play and an understanding of the physical sciences and energy conservation. The environmental activities within the playground are dovetailing with a school STEM curriculum being taught in the classroom.
Complying With New Mandatory ADA Standards
School Construction News; Apr 25, 2012
All state and government construction projects will soon have to bring their projects up to compliance to meet the 2010 Standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act — a requirement that includes school exteriors like playgrounds, pools and outdoor signage. For projects that start on or after March 25, 2012 the 2010 ADA standards will apply automatically.
Forming Playscapes: What Schools Can Learn from Playgrounds
Arch Daily; Mar 07, 2012
When designing classrooms, designers should look at spaces that welcome interaction with the environment and encourage the free reign of energy and imagination--the playground. Describes numerous schools around the world that can inspire the classrooms of the future.
Safe and Secure. Balancing Safety and Fun on the Playground.
Vence, Deborah L.
Recreation Management; , p22-29 ; Mar 2012
Looks at the safety of playground surfaces and equipment today, and what playground owners and operators can do to ensure both are up to industry standards.
Playgrounds: Safety & Maintenance Go Hand-in-Hand.
Recreation Management; , 2p ; Sep 2011
Describes playground inspections to address safety and maintenance issues. Poorly maintained playground equipment can cause injuries, but it can also lead to lawsuits. Proper maintenance, in accordance with manufacturers' instructions, will help prolong the life of the equipment.
Building Blueprints: Playgrounds and Outdoor Spaces.
School Planning and Management; v50 n4 , p82,83 ; Apr 2011
Highlights how an urban Boston charter school created play and exercise areas on their small site, formerly six-acre industrial property.
An Assessment of Schoolyard Renovation Strategies to Encourage Children's Physical Activity
Peter Anthamatten, Lois Brink, Sarah Lampe, Emily Greenwood, Beverly Kingston and Claudio Nigg
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity; Apr 2011
Children in poor and minority neighborhoods often lack adequate environmental support for healthy physical development and community interventions designed to improve physical activity resources serve as an important approach to addressing obesity. In Denver, the Learning Landscapes (LL) program has constructed over 98 culturally-tailored schoolyard play spaces at elementary schools with the goal to encourage utilization of play spaces and physical activity. In spite of enthusiasm about such projects to improve urban environments, little work has evaluated their impact or success in achieving their stated objectives. This study evaluates the impacts of LL construction and recency of renovation on schoolyard utilization and the physical activity rates of children, both during and outside of school, using an observational study design.
Play It Safe.
Recreation Management; v12 n3 , p16-18,20,22,23 ; Mar 2011
Discusses essentials of playground design, including design that minimizes fall heights through landscaping and equipment shape, regular inspection and maintenance, and equipment that is intriguing even though it is safe and age-appropriate.
Are You Accessible?
Recreation Management; v12 n1 , p28-32 ; Jan 2011
Reviews 2010 additions to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that cover recreational facilities. The types of disabilities that recreation planners need to plan and design for, are discussed, as are typical changes needed for swimming pools, playing fields, and other specific areas. Cost effective changes and examples of recreation facilities that are already in compliance are included.
Putting Play Back into the Playground
Kairaranga; v12 n1 , p37-42 ; 2011
During 2008 and 2009, a group of nine Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) from Canterbury met as a Community of Practice to investigate the way that play in the school playground contributes to the social competence of students. While the original concern was around the needs of students who were unable to manage their behaviour in the playground, the focus shifted to question how the school playground can be viewed as an important learning environment for all children. It was soon found that there is an enormous body of research around bullying and physical violence and play in early childhood, but very little concerned with the design or physical structure of playgrounds or the role of adults in the playground. This paper was born out of the work of the Playground Focus Group, but also reports on issues confronting schools in relation to play and school playgrounds.
Safe Learning and Play.
Olsen, Heather; Hudson, Susan; Thompson, Donna
School Planning and Management; v50 n1 , p83-85 ; Jan 2011
Describes seven principles of proper school playground management. These cover compliance with standards, safety and security, age-appropriate design, accessibility, regular assessment of conditions, emergency planning, and managing of documentation.
What's New on the Playground?
Recreation Management; v11 n11 , p14-19 ; Nov 2010
Discusses the evolution of playgrounds towards the incorporation of nature and inclusion of the disabled. A variety of natural features and inclusive designs are detailed.
Cover Ups: Selecting the Right Shade Structure for Your Needs.
Recreation Management; v11 n10 , p20-27 ; Oct 2010
Discusses shade structures for athletic and recreational facilities, noting attention to climate, potential vandalism, aesthetics, self-installation, water resistance or porosity, and orientation toward the sun are discussed.
Watch Out Mulch!
Recreation Management; v11 n10 , p38,39 ; Oct 2010
Reviews wood-carpet wear mats that are placed under playground swings and sliding boards, thus preventing the continues digging out of the playground mulch by human feet. The added safety and amount of staff time saved in grooming playgrounds equipped with these mats is emphasized.
State of Play.
Olsen, Heather; Hudson, Susan; Thompson, Donna
American School Board Journal; v197 n8 , p27-29 ; Aug 2010
Laments the frequent neglect of outdoor learning environments, and advises on creating a safe outdoor environment by describing standards, listing resources, and outlining general principles for layout, safety, accessibility, equipment, and environment.
Resurrecting the "Adventure Style" Playground.
Landscape Architecture; v100 n3 , p44-48,50,52,54,56,58,60-62 ; Mar 2010
Discusses the restoration of and return to playgrounds that offer environments where children can not only play, but also engage in creative endeavors that nurture development. Concerns over liability and accessibility had discouraged these types of facilities, with an evolution toward those that were less challenging and perceived as safer. Restoration projects for several adventure playgrounds are discussed, as are accommodations for the disabled and creative playpiece design.
Building Blueprints: Playgrounds.
School Planning and Management; v49 n3 , p44,45 ; Mar 2010
Discusses advances in playground design, with emphasis on safety, including age-appropriate play zones, fall heights, shock absorbent surfaces, and security.
All Together Now: Making Play Safe and Accessible.
Recreation Management; v11 n3 , p18,20-25 ; Mar 2010
Advises on creating satisfactory contemporary playgrounds, addressing surfacing material, maintenance requirements, safety, accessibility, and the typical life span of today's playground equipment.
School Playground Surfacing and Arm Fractures in Children: A Cluster Randomized Trial Comparing Sand to Wood Chip Surfaces.
Howard, Andrew; Macarthur, Colin; Rothman, Linda; Willan Andrew; Macpherson, Alison
PLoS Medicine; Dec 15, 2009
Reports on the difference in playground upper extremity fracture rates in school playgrounds with wood fiber surfacing versus granite sand surfacing. The research determined that granitic sand playground surfaces reduce the risk of arm fractures from playground falls when compared with engineered wood fiber surfaces.
Outdoor Environmental Assessment of Attention Promoting Settings for Preschool Children.
Mårtensson, F.; Boldemann, C; Söderström, M; Blennow, M; Englund, JE; Grahn, P.
Health and Place; v 15 n4 , 1149-1157 ; Dec 2009
The restorative potential of green outdoor environments for children in preschool settings was investigated by measuring the attention of children playing in settings with different environmental features. Eleven preschools with outdoor environments typical for the Stockholm area were assessed using the outdoor play environment categories and the fraction of visible sky from play structures, and 198 children, aged 4.5-6.5 years, were rated by the staff for inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive behaviors with the ECADDES tool. Children playing in large and integrated outdoor areas containing large areas of trees, shrubbery and a hilly terrain showed less often behaviors of inattention. The results indicate that the restorative potential of green outdoor environments applies also to preschool children and that environmental assessment tools can be useful when to locate and develop health-promoting land adjacent to preschools.
A Greener Place to Play.
Recreation Management; v10 n10 , p50,51 ; Oct 2009
Profiles La Crosse, Wisconsin's Crowley Park/Emerson Elementary School playground, a facility shared between the school and a city park that exhibits sustainability in design, bidding, rainwater management, an outdoor classroom, and energy-efficient night ligting.
Recreation Management; v10 n10 , p20-27 ; Oct 2009
Discusses shade structures at recreational and athletic facilities, including playgrounds and stadiums. Solid and cloth structures are addressed, as are budgeting, durability, and design.
Recreation Management; v10 n10 , p36-39 ; Oct 2009
Describes a variety of playgrounds with accessibility features. Some focus on accommodating the disabled only, while others on accessibility for users of all abilities. Surface playgrounds and swimming pool design are addressed.
Nature and Nurture: Trends in Play Design.
Recreation Management; v10 n7 , p20-22,24,25 ; Jul 2009
Reviews current trends in intergenerational playgrounds, including safe and accessible equipment, gardens, stimulation of physical activity, and inclusion of nature. Examples from across the nation are cited.
21 Century Schools; v4 n1 , p58-60 ; 2009
Profiles the playground at Moorside School in Newcastle, Great Britain. The playground was selected as the best external learning environment by the British Council for School Environment (BCSE). It features flexible activity areas, a stage for storytelling and performance, and wild areas for unstructured exploration.