Spreading global awareness about Sensory Processing Disorder

STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder

October is Sensory Awareness Month, and we’re already focusing on next month because we want to help spread global awareness about this disorder.

On Oct. 6-7, our partners at the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder will host their 20th Annual International 3S Symposium in Denver, Colo. The Symposium will highlight 20 years of research accomplishments with though-provoking research and strategy presentations by clinical experts.

The Symposium is great for any individuals–occupational or physical therapists, special education teachers, early intervention specialists, parents and more–seeking a better understanding of Sensory Processing Disorder. And in addition to the two-day Symposium, the STAR Institute is hosting a pre-symposium workshop for parents focused on relationships and SPD across the lifespan.

Learn more and register for the 3S Symposium and pre-symposium workshop here. And watch our short video below to learn more about the history of the STAR Institute.

Decline in children’s play time shown in new study

Do you think your kids get enough opportunity for play?

According to our recent poll, more than half of parents think that children today have fewer opportunities for play than children 20 years ago. And while nearly two-thirds of parents think the ideal amount of daily play time is between one and two hours, they reported that their children get one hour or less of unstructured play time each day.

Unstructured play time

Our survey, which took place in June 2017 and was conducted by ORC International, polled parents of children 12 years and under to understand their attitudes on the value of unstructured play. Topics ranged from important life skills gained on the playground to opportunities for free play.

Children's play opportunities

We recently commissioned a meta study in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development, which confirmed our culture’s growing infringement on children’s play opportunities. According to the study, a long list of daily distractions competes for children’s free time: hectic family lifestyles, organized activities, T.V. and electronic devices, and academically packed school schedules.

Learn more about our research and request a download of the full whitepaper at shapedbyplay.com.

Promoting language-rich interaction on the playground

Too Small to Fail_structure

There is a general notion that there is a gap between the number of words that lower-income children hear compared with their higher income peers, and that this gap leads to a gap in early vocabulary and kindergarten readiness. But even more importantly, research shows us that the more parents meaningfully engage with their young children, the more their child’s brain will grow and develop. And that is an amazing opportunity.

Too Small to Fail_Food

That’s where Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and The Opportunity Institute, comes in. Their goal is to make early brain and language development a part of communities. And to do this, they’ve created the “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” campaign, which brings visually engaging and colorful signs to supermarkets, laundromats, bus stops and playgrounds to encourage talking, reading and singing between parents and young children. The signage is intended to provide families with reminders about the importance of engaging with their young children, as well as provide specific ideas for things to talk about.

Too Small to Fail_Feelings

We’re proud to partner with Too Small to Fail on the “Talking is Teaching” campaign. By incorporating these interactive play panels, we’re meeting parents where they already are with their children and helping them boost their children’s early brain and language development through play. The panels are strategically positioned throughout the playground design so that children and their caregivers can sit near each other, and use the language prompts to interact with each other. Even better, there is a seamless theme of play and education in these language-rich playground designs, so parents and caregivers are helping their children get ready for kindergarten and set them up for success in school.

Too Small to Fail_Night Sky

To date, Too Small to Fail has partnered with Landscape Structures to open 20 “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” themed playgrounds across the country. Learn more about our partnership with Too Small to Fail by contacting your local playground consultant.

A fresh look for your playground

HDG Venti®

Add a cool aesthetic to your playground equipment with the new HDG Series! What is HDG? Hot Dip Galvanized is a process in which steel is completely dipped into a bath of molten zinc to form intermetallic layers making it highly resistant to corrosion. Even more, the HDG process creates a unique look for playground designs in any environment—urban, sculptural, modern, industrial and more.

HDG Global Motion®

And if you happen to live in a coastal area, this durable finish provides an extra layer of protection against the harsh elements. That’s why the City of Corpus Christi in Texas chose to incorporate the HDG Series in one of their seaside parks. Featured at McCaughan Park is all three products of the HDG Series—Venti®, Global Motion® and the Oodle® Swing. Kids ages 5 to 12 explore the modern-looking playground design while being challenged physically and mentally with the nets, slides, belts and climbers of Venti. Freestanding play components like the Oodle Swing and Global Motion encourage cooperative play, and challenge kids’ strategic-thinking and motor-planning skills.

HDG Oodle® Swing

Learn more about the new HDG Series, and see photos of the newly opened McCaughan Park at playlsi.com.

Exploring nature on the playground

NI_YentileFarm_blog

We know that improved concentration and school achievement, reduced stress levels and a foundation of environmental stewardship are just a few of the benefits that kids receive from playing outdoors. That’s why we’re committed to designing nature-inspired commercial playground equipment that gets kids outside for play and reconnecting with the natural world around them.

NI_Riverstone-blog

If you’re designing a playground or outdoor learning environment, you have an opportunity to create a space that encourages kids (and their families) to be outside and reconnect with nature. Use the following tips to plan for your nature-inspired playground:

  • Use vegetation as shade rather than cutting down trees or shrubs
  • Take into account topography and natural features and incorporate them into the play experience
  • Choose natural looking playground equipment that meets safety standards, fits the needs of your users and easily blends into your community
  • Create educational signage to teach visitors about the native plants and animals

NI_Niwot_blog

We think the great outdoors is the best place for kids to play. They can run around freely, make up their own games, explore nature and so much more. It’s fun for kids of all ages and the benefits to kids’ bodies, minds and spirits are numerous! Learn more about nature-themed playgrounds.

Connecting play and learning at Greater & Greener 2017

BuildDay_05blog

More than 1,000 park leaders, city planners, design professionals, and urban park advocates came to Minneapolis and Saint Paul from around the world for Greater & Greener 2017: Parks Connecting Cities, Cultures, & Generations. The five-day indoor and outdoor conference focused on the role of urban parks in creating healthy, resilient and economically competitive cities.

In addition to being a Gold Sponsor of the Conference, we hosted two events throughout the week. On Sunday, July 30, we welcomed 40 volunteers from around the world to construct a playground at Central Village Park in St. Paul. The volunteer’s finished building commercial playground equipment for kids ages 5 to 12, a Clubhouse for kids ages 2 to 5 and playground panels, which featured Too Small to Fail‘s Talking is Teaching creative content with parent-child conversation prompts to foster healthy language-rich interactions.

 

On Tuesday, Aug. 1, we hosted a mobile workshop that showcased the most imaginative playgrounds in Minneapolis. Attendees heard from the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and community members about how the city encourages healthy outdoor activity, brings families together and builds community. Even more, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges joined the group at Powderhorn Park to share her commitment to cradle-to-K development and how the city is using the Talking is Teaching campaign to support early literacy in the city.

TSTFgroup_blog

 

Encouraging whole-child development with toddler playgrounds

Toddlers and preschoolers always find new, but not always safe, ways to play. That’s why we make playground safety a top priority by creating age- and developmentally appropriate products like our Smart Play® playstructures.  The Smart Play designs specifically for toddlers and preschoolers are packed with play activities to help build their senses, and motor and cognitive skills. See below for more details about these designs:

  • Nook: Designed for kids ages 6 to 23 months, its 20 interactive components prompt adult-child conversations and support whole-child learning across key developmental domains.
  • Loft: Handrails lead 2- to 5-year-olds up into a world of imaginary play, with a built-in find-it game, learning activities, lower level clubhouse and so many more interactive elements.
  • Cube: Plenty of activities in this modern, compact playground design means plenty of fun for little explorers ages 2 to 5.
  • Motion: Packing 16 activities into a compact space, the whimsical Motion playstructure keeps kids ages 2 to 5 entertained in a safe, developmentally appropriate way.

Even more, we’ve partnered with Too Small to Fail to create language-rich playgrounds using their Talking is Teaching creative content on panels and signage throughout the playground. These literacy panels will encourage parent-child conversations to help prepare children for success in school and beyond.

Let's Talk About Food

Learn more about how to create a dream playground for toddlers and preschoolers at playlsi.com, and get started on an early childhood playground design by contacting us here.