Principals help create better school playgrounds in California

Elementary and middle school principals from across the country gathered on Monday, June 29, to participate in the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) seventh annual Community Service Day. The service projects included a school playground build at James A. Garfield Elementary School in Long Beach, Calif., and a beautification project at Charles W. Bursch Elementary School in Compton, Calif.

Principals worked together to build new school playground equipment.

We installed new elementary school playground equipment in Long Beach that will invite students ages 5 to 12 to spend time outdoors being active while also encouraging interaction among peers. The PlayBooster® playground structure delivers a variety of play components including climbers, playground slides, overhead events and sensory play panels. In addition to the playground build, a team of principals planted flowers and painted a mural to create a playful atmosphere at the Compton school playground.

Principals beautify school playgrounds in California.

Learn more about NAESP’s Annual Conference, and see how we’re working together to create more inclusive school playgrounds throughout the nation.

Fundraising ideas for your new playground

MLK Center

We know that securing funds for a community or school playground can often be a challenge. But the great news is that there is nearly always money available… you just have to know where to look for it! And we’re here to help you with that. We have fundraising programs, a playground grant guide and purchasing contracts to help bring your playground plans to fruition.

We can help you set up a highly profitable playground fundraising program. We’ve partnered with an organization to help turn walk-a-thons or other events into successful fundraisers with tools and resources. And we have scratchcards to turn your playground fundraising into a game.

ScratchCards_blog

Playground grants are another way you can get the funds you need to make your project happen. While we don’t offer grants directly, we’ve put together a Grant Guide that provides a listing of federal and state programs, as well as grants offered by corporations.

2015-Grant-Guide_blog

And finally, we have several purchasing contracts available to tax-based agencies or non-profits to expedite and simplify the buying process. Enrollment is easy and free, and it allows you to purchase our playground equipment at a great price.

Contact us to learn more about our playground fundraising programs and grant guide, and visit playlsi.com to get more details about the purchasing contracts we have available.

Why do my kids like playground spinners?

Topsy-Blog

NEW! TopsyTurny™ Spinner

Think back to your days spent on the playground. What were your favorite playground activities? For many of us here at Landscape Structures, our favorites were the Merry-Go-Round and playground swings. And today, if you spend any time at your local playground, you probably notice a number of kids that flock to these same types of components.

Saddle Spinner

Saddle Spinner

Why are some kids so fascinated with spinning activities? Because it’s one of the core movements that engages the vestibular system. When a child spins on spinners like the TopsyTurny™ or OmniSpin® spinners, their brain receives signals to help control movement and balance. Even more, our playground spinners provide fun and also present opportunities for kids to be more social and engage in cooperative play.

OmniSpin® spinner

OmniSpin® spinner

Children discover their world and how to be successful in it through sensory play. They develop their behaviors based on what they learn through their senses. And the more sensory-rich play experiences they have, the more the develop skills necessary to engage, change and impact the world around them. Learn more about sensory playgrounds at playlsi.com, and tell us below what playground activity your kids like best.

Video Case Study: Community playground builds

There’s something particularly satisfying about watching kids run, jump and climb on a playground built by a community. As you begin the playground planning process, consider making your project a community build. Not only can it help save costs, but it also brings neighbors and communities closer together. Watch the video below to see how Annandale Elementary School in Annandale, Minn., and their local Lions Club worked together to build new school playgrounds.

Learn more about community playground builds at playlsi.com, and contact your local playground consultant to request our Guide to Community Build Playgrounds.

Celebrate Kids to Parks Day on May 16

In just over a week, children and families will descend upon local, state and national parks to celebrate Kids to Parks Day. The event, being held on May 16, 2015, marks the fifth year that the National Park Trust has encouraged children and families to get outside for play, exploration and adventure.

Make the pledge to visit a local park on Kids to Parks Day, May 16.

Visit kidstoparks.org to make the pledge to plan a trip to the park on Saturday, May 16. Just by making the pledge, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a Nikon COOLPIX L830 camera. And while your there, you can browse a listing of park events by state and city to find one near you. Or find a nearby playground on playlsi.com that you can go explore.

Tom Sawyer Island at Amelia Earhart Park, Hialeah, Fla.

According to the National Park Trust, Kids to Parks Day is becoming America’s unofficial kick off to summer. So mark your calendar and plan to get out and play on May 16!

Creating more excitement with playground colors

When it comes to playgrounds, color is just as important to a child’s learning environment as the play structure itself. To create a sensory-rich playground environment for children, we spent the past year researching outdoor environments and working with chemists to create color formulas in nature-inspired hues and tones. The new colors—Berry, Buttercup, Carbon, Grass, Lagoon, Paprika, Peacock and Sky—are designed to enhance a child’s play experience.

Nature-inspired playground colors

The benefits of these innovative colors are numerous:

  • Nature-inspired colors allow children to engage in a playground design that creates a calming experience. This is because tones that reflect the outdoors are familiar to children. For example, we wanted the tone Buttercup to relay the feeling of playing a field of flowers.
  • Unlike the average toy, which is meant to drive visually loud experiences, natured-inspired playground colors help children focus. This is particularly beneficial for children with sensory processing disorders who often seek soothing environments, and the tones Sky and Peacock are meant to replicate the calming sense of sky gazing or playing in a garden.
  • Our new color line intentionally adds a metallic fleck to a matte finish for a richer finish that creates texture and offers a tactile play experience.

Harry Thomas Sr. Playspace

Learn more about our color inspirations and our overall design philosophy at playlsi.com. And tell us here how you use color to create additional dimension in your designs.

Guest Blog: Working to restore urban and wildland forests

Since 2008, we’ve partnered with American Forests to directly offset the total amount of CO2 generated for each playsystem and Skatewave® skatepark produced in our Delano, Minn., production facilities. Today, we’re happy to have Jami Westerhold, Senior Director of Forest Restoration, as our guest blogger, discussing the work that American Forests has done for the past 140 years.

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As the oldest national conservation nonprofit, this year American Forests is celebrating our 140th anniversary. Our mission is restore threatened forest ecosystems and inspire people to value and protect urban and wildland forests. As our forests are damaged by a myriad of threats—pests, disease, fire, development—American Forests works to restore these areas to health. Identifying high-impact projects American Forests selects a variety of projects in a range of locations and address different ecological challenges. Restored healthy wildland and urban forests provide numerous benefits ranging from providing wildlife habitat to cleaning air to reducing energy costs.

I manage one of American Forests’ keystone programs: Global ReLeaf. While the world watched the space shuttle Discovery place the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit 25 years ago, American Forests was launching a stellar program of its own.

Trees

Though we had dipped our toe in the water of forest reforestation before 1990, this was the first year we committed to supporting multiple large-scale, on-the-ground projects. Since its inaugural year, American Forests’ Global ReLeaf program has blossomed into what is now our flagship program, planting more than 48 million trees in all 50 states and 45 counties.

Perusing our projects you will see that though the projects differ each year, there are common themes among American Forests’ comprehensive work to protect and restore the most damaged ecosystems. American Forests works to ensure native species are used and all elements are considered. Though our lives are dependent on forests—more than half of drinking water in the U.S. originates in forests!—their importance is much broader, reducing the rate of erosion, flooding, climate change and much more.

longleaf-pine

Credit: USDA/Flickr

American Forests is thrilled to have partners like Landscape Structures supporting the success of these projects. Since 2008, Landscape Structures has offset carbon it generates through high-impact projects. Just last year, the company helped American Forests and the U.S. Forest Service re-establish longleaf pine, a priority in the southeastern United States, in an area affected by a high-intensity wildfire. Longleaf pines, which once covered more than 90 million acres of the North American landscape, now encompass less than three percent of their original range, or 3.4 million acres. These forests represented some of the world’s most unique biodiverse ecosystems and are a high priority because of the large number of threatened and endangered wildlife species that depend on these forest ecosystems.

Though we have restored hundreds of thousands of acres of forests, there is more work to be done. It is the partnerships with companies like Landscape Structures that lead to American Forests’ success in achieving our restoration goals.