2018 has been an amazing year… filled with great products, projects and messages. See the best of 2018 in the form of our most read blog posts.
1. Spreading the message of inclusion
We’re working with Shane’s Inspiration to promote the animated short film, “Ian,” which aims to help children understand disability and spread the message of inclusion.
2. Bringing literacy to the playground
The Loft family has grown to include the Fire Station and Market Cafe with even more developmentally appropriate activities including literacy prompts.
5. Big fun comes in small packages
Smart Play® playstructures pack a lot of activities into compact structures, taking kids from early crawling exploration on up to active climbing and social play to a challenging course for older children.
Thank you for tuning in to Together We Play in 2018. We’re looking forward to an exciting year of play; tell us below what you’d like to see more of in 2019 and we’ll do our best to share it here.
It’s important to keep the developmental needs of toddlers and preschoolers in mind when you’re designing playgrounds for your childcare facility or school. Playgrounds for young kids not only help them build their senses, and motor and cognitive skills, but they also teach them about cooperation and social imaginative play.
Smart Play® playstructures pack a lot of activities into compact structures, taking kids from early crawling exploration on up to active climbing and social play to a challenging course for older children. This line helps span several critical periods of childhood development, making it ideal for childcare, early learning centers, neighborhood playgrounds and schools.
Motion – 2 to 5 years
Each Smart Play playstructure makes the most efficient use of materials to create a large number of activities. For example, cut-outs from panels are used to create activity components found elsewhere on the playstructure. And the compact size of these structures requires less space and surfacing materials than typical playgrounds resulting in a lower total investment. That means Smart Play playstructures are ideal for tight spaces and tight budgets, too.
Smart Play structures are preconfigured and designed with your choice of color. All at a smart price. Lots of Smart Play options are available for kids ages 6 months to 12 years:
Nook – 6 to 23 months
Nook – 6 to 23 months
Sized right for little crawlers and early walkers, this whimsical playstructures 20 colorful activities to capture young ones’ attentions.
Loft – 2 to 5 years
As young children grow, they become ready for Loft. With language prompts and learning activities connected to early childhood curriculum goals, you’ll find plenty of interactive elements.
Fire Station – 2 to 5 years
Kids will enjoy lots of activities that teach them about fire safety and helping others in this imagination encouraging playstructure.
Market Cafe – 2 to 5 years
This farmer’s market and cafe lets little ones take turns placing meal orders, dining with friends and learning about healthy food choices.
Centre – 2 to 5 years
Connect all three playstructures–Loft, Fire Station and Market Cafe–with elevated crawl tunnels to create Centre, and enhance the fun.
Motion – 2 to 5 years
This accessible playstructure packs 16 activities into its compact size, and encourages kids to engage in social and imaginative play.
Cube – 2 to 5 years
A curated collection of interactive play events help build cognitive and motor skills for toddlers and preschoolers while they play.
Venti® – 5 to 12 years
Nets, slides, belts and climbers provide challenges that promote physical development and strategic thinking while also creating hangouts.
Venti® – 5 to 12 years
See Centre in action below, and visit playlsi.com for more details.
We’re excited to expand the Smart Play® line of playstructures with designs especially for toddlers and preschoolers. Introduced in 2017, Loft delivers interactive elements to engage developing minds and bodies. And now, the Loft family has grown to include the Fire Station and Market Cafe to further encourage social and imaginative play for 2- to 5-year-olds.
With the Fire Station, kids can take control at the wheel, pet Sparky the friendly fire dog or slide down to their next adventure. There’s plenty more to keep them busy including an object find game, a bell and a gear shift, and a fun mirror that shows them how they’d look in uniform.
The Market Cafe lets little ones take turns placing meal orders, dining with friends and talking about healthy food choices. Among lots of activities, kids can make pictures in the image panel, bing-bong the apple bell and chat about food colors and tastes.
Double the fun by connecting any two of these Smart Play playstructures–Loft, Fire Station or Market Cafe–with an elevated crawl tunnel to enhance the imaginative fun and physical activity levels. Or connect all three to create the Centre for kids to explore and stay active.
Best of all, with guidance from the National Head Start Association and Too Small to Fail, developmentally appropriate activities including literacy prompts were incorporated throughout the designs to engage children and adults in language-rich conversations.
See Centre in action below, and go to playlsi.com for more details about the Smart Play line.
Exceed community expectations by creating amazing playground designs. Our innovative new playground products will deliver engaging and educational play experiences that will keep kids safe. Even more, we’ll ensure that your playground project stays within budget and is delivered on time. Collaborate with us in 2018 and bring your playground visions to life.
A fresh look for your playground
Add a cool aesthetic (and an extra layer of protection) to your playground that will look great in any environment—urban, sculptural, modern, industrial—with the new HDG Series!
Exploring nature on the playground
There are myriad benefits to kids playing outdoors. That’s why we design nature-inspired playground equipment that helps connect kids to the natural world.
Thank you for tuning in to Together We Play in 2017. We’re looking forward to an exciting year of play; tell us below what you’d like to see more of in 2018 and we’ll do our best to share it here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 2015, we collaborated with St. David’s Center in Minnetonka, Minn., to design an inclusive playground complete with an area dedicated to the new Rhapsody™ Outdoor Musical Instruments. Today, we’re happy to have Jackie Hanson, assistant teacher and children’s group piano instructor, as our guest blogger discussing how the music play equipment is helping students learn.
In the distance I hear a “Bang! Bang!” and a “Ding, Dong, Brrring” sounding out in mismatched pitches and uneven rhythms. I turn my head to see grins lighting up small faces and bodies in motion as children swing their arms back and forth, hitting the drums as hard as they can. One child tilts his head at the base of the hollow metal tubes of the Grandioso™ Chimes as another bounces the mallets off the bars, creating sounds of different pitch and timbre. What some might see as an annoyance or an incorrect attempt at playing music, I see as the purest form of artistic enjoyment and cognitive exploration.
St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development has been fortunate enough to install a brand new all-inclusive playground, which includes a new area filled with the Rhapsody Outdoor Musical Instruments ready and waiting for creative discovery. Music is an art form that humans were creating before the dawn of the written language. Therefore, it can be reasoned that it is one of the most natural ways in which a developing child can learn. The musical instruments at St. David’s Center including the Chimes, Vivo™ and Animato™ Metallophones, and three drums create the opportunity for children to foster fine and gross motor abilities, observe and explore scientific relationships, nurture creative imagination, and grow social interaction skills in a joyous, engaging and natural way.
When a child is playing a drum, fine and gross motor abilities are being developed. In the repeated motion of lifting each arm to hit the drum, gross motor strength is being built. Control is being developed in all the muscles of the arm as the child has to aim his/her hand toward the center of the drum, rather than letting it fall randomly on any area of the drum. Finally, the core is in constant use because it is being used to stabilize the body while the arms move quickly and the lower body stays still.
Scientific exploration is another wonderful educational opportunity these musical instruments can create. Once, a boy slammed the drum with all his force while another rested his cheek on the drum head feeling the vibrations. Another time, a little girl brought me over to tell me something to the effect of, “Look… this big one makes this really scary sound…” when pointing to the pipes of the wind chimes. Most recently, two friends were hitting the Grandioso Chimes as hard as they could and counting how long the sounds lasted. These are just a few examples of the observed scientific exploration, which are the building blocks of more complex discoveries in the future.
Music also fosters creative imagination and growth. While it’s easy to get stuck in the mindset of using an instrument for its “defined” use we forget that music is meant to be creative and a gateway for new ideas. While on the playground, I have seen children hitting the drums with sticks instead of their hands, riding the drums like horses, knocking on the Chimes pretending it’s a doorbell and using their fingers to try to play. Not all of these uses create music. But the children are using the Rhapsody Outdoor Musical Instruments to think outside of the box. They are not only fostering creative ideas for ways in which to play music, but also in how to use the musical instruments for completely different things.
These instruments have created countless moments of social interaction and growth. Music creates community; it is joyful and fun, and on more than one occasion I see two or three friends banging on the drums together with nothing but smiles and laughs on their faces. Playing the musical instruments together on the playground creates opportunities for social interaction skills. If two friends disagree on how to play, they learn how to resolve the conflict. Assuming the latter occurs, they then learn how to use each other to think of new creative ideas and work together. Having music on the playground creates one more outlet for these opportunities for social growth to occur.
Music is a unique tool in that it is an artistic activity that can extend its educational impact to numerous other areas of development. Furthermore, it is one of the most natural ways to feel and express emotion as well as create a joyful sense of community. It has been wonderful to see children growing and further developing their skills using the instruments on St. David’s Center’s new inclusive playground, and I can’t wait to see the new discoveries and experiences that will continue to occur in the future years.
A former prison might seem an odd place for a childcare center. But places change over time, as do the people who inhabit those places. And when those people are between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, they experience a lot of change in a short amount of time.
Read about the metamorphosis of the play area at Prince George’s County Employee’s Childcare Center below, and get the full story at playlsi.com.
Client: Prince George’s County Employee’s Childcare Center
Designers: Brenda Iraola, landscape architect, and Sparks@Play
Goal: Develop a fresh narrative for the existing play environment around the theme of transformation
Solution: Drawing on the memories of her Grandmother Freda’s farm in Minnesota, Brenda divided the courtyard into four play areas where kids can follow the journey of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. A larger-than-life caterpillar welcomes explorers into an enormous, interactive garden. Play structures are outfitted with flowers, ladybugs, bees, ants, mushrooms and leaves to create an immersive storybook experience.