Promoting language-rich interaction on the playground

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

Summertime safety

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Summer is synonymous with outdoor fun. As the weather warms up and trips to the park and playground become more frequent, take steps to keep your children safe from the sun and heat.

Sunscreen in addition to lightweight clothing and a sun hat help protect against UVA and UVB rays. However, the best line of defense is by staying in the shade. When planning trips to the park, choose commercial playgrounds that integrate shade into the design. Our shade systems–SkyWays® and CoolToppers®–are designed to block up to 97 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays.

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During physical play at the playground, kids should have water available and should take a break regularly to stay hydrated. Our playground shade systems will also combat summer heat by keeping temperatures up to 30-degrees cooler. We even offer a shade option with a cool misting feature to help keep kids cool during the steamiest of play days.

In addition to providing protection from the summer sun and heat, the SkyWays and CoolToppers shade systems deliver a beautiful aesthetic to park, playground and recreation areas. Whether your goal is to shade a playground, dog park, pickleball courts or something entirely unique to your community, we have shade solutions to meet your needs. Contact us to learn more.

Go Beyond

2017 PLAY Book

Everything is possible when you go beyond. From big to small. Wide to tall. Modern to traditional. Subtle to overt. Wacky to refined. Dream like a child, create like an expert. Go beyond with custom.

West Commons Playground at Central Park, Carmel, Ind.

West Commons Playground at Central Park, Carmel, Ind.

Let’s collaborate on your next playground project! From one-of-a-kind designed playgrounds to a Cinderella-like pumpkin carriage, nature-inspired playstructures and a design that represents the history of communities, you can find inspiration in our 2017 PLAY Book.

River Oaks Park, Houston, Texas

River Oaks Park, Houston, Texas

Request your copy of the 2017 PLAY Book, and learn how we’ll collaborate with you to create custom and themed gathering spaces that your entire community will enjoy.

Guest Blog: Inspiring creative play among kids

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In 2016, we introduced Smart Play®: Venti™, a smartly designed playstructure that packs 20 exciting activities into its compact size. Today, we’re happy to have Tory Roff, concept designer at Landscape Structures, as our guest blogger discussing how he and the product development team created the newest addition to our Smart Play line of playstructures.

The idea for the Smart Play line of playstructures was more an ethos about playgrounds as a whole… about creating a cohesive play environment. The criteria for this playground solution was a small footprint and budget, but a desire to serve a large population. So, we started with a blank slate without any rules, and asked ourselves how to design an environment that invites a dynamic play experience.

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The design started with the Cargo Net and strategically set the height of it so there is room for play underneath, allowing it to work as a trampoline above and it also acts as a hub for the rest of the play space. We built out from there in respect to circuits and routes so there are different ways to engage the whole of the system. Graduated challenge is built into Smart Play: Venti so that kids with a higher skill level can find challenges and still have a way to invent from it.

We spent a lot of time in the model space—virtual and scale models—working out the dimensions of the structure to really understand how every piece could be doing more. In modular playgrounds, a fire pole is always a fire pole. But good design considers what programming is happening around the fire pole so that kids can create another route and link two events as a cohesive experience rather than a series of segmented happenings. And that’s what’s happening with Smart Play: Venti. The Cabin Climber is an interior club house and an exterior ladder. The pods on the Cargo Net are a way-finding option through the structure, but also a place to stop and hang out. The Belt Hammock is a space for lounging, but also an escape route—it’s not big, it’s not obvious, but it is there.

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I was able to talk with students at Birchview Elementary School while they played, and they talked about their friend, Michael, who uses a mobility device. They were excited that he can actually use this equipment, and how it’s his favorite on the playground. Because the design is less scripted, there’s less expectation of how a user actually engages it. Smart Play: Venti allows for more natural inclusion through the addition of many access points and a centralized hangout location, which was one of our primary goals during the design process.

There is enough variety of activities in the playstructure so that kids feel like they can fill in the blank however they want. As designers, we had ideas and hopes of how everything would play out. But you have to engage it from a place of humility and know that there isn’t such a thing as intended use. Kids are infinitely more creative than we are, so it’s important that we give them a platform to express that.

Case Study: Smart playground design

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Client: Birchview Elementary School, Plymouth, Minn.

Designers: Tory Roff and Tom Keller, concept designers at Landscape Structures

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Goal: Create a modern design aesthetic on the playground to match the recently updated school building

Solution: Birchview Elementary School’s Principal Sam Fredrickson chose to install the Smart Play®: Venti® playstructure because of its modern aesthetic and the fact that it would accommodate an entire classroom. Smart Play: Venti packs 20 activities—from nets and slides to belts and climbers—into its design, and its compact size requires less space and surfacing material than typical playgrounds. Even more, the playground is designed using a smart use of materials, and provides challenges that promote physical development and strategic thinking among students.

Read more about how Birchview Elementary School brought play and design into the 21st Century with the installation of their new school playground equipment.