Let your imagination soar

2018 PLAY Book

Is your head in the clouds when it comes to unique design?

Perfect. We can help you shape sky-high visions into just-right solutions.

From playful post toppers to concrete-sculpted climbers and colorful palettes to DigiFuse® panels, we can help you turn sky-high ideas into amazing realities. Let’s collaborate.

Request your copy of the 2018 PLAY Book, or browse the virtual PLAY Book. And to see these amazing playground designs in action, watch our video below.

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.

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.

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 imaginative play through reading

In 2015, we collaborated with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) in Prince George’s County, Md., to design a storybook-themed playground that encourages fun and learning. Today, we’re happy to have Brenda Iraola, landscape architect supervisor with MNCPPC, as our guest blogger discussing how she and her team created the literacy playground.

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The idea for creating a literacy playground at Watkins Regional Park was genius because the theme was already based on the original storybook, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum written in 1899.  Throughout the design, I promote reading the book as much as possible. We used actual pages from the storybook and put them on sign posts at each of the six design areas within the playground—Dorothy’s Farm House, Munchkin Land, the Emerald Forest, the Emerald City of Oz, the Balloon Escape and the Ruby Red Shoes. Another designer on my team, Chris Colvin, had the idea to add language to the book-page signs that states “Read the story to find out what happens next.” We continually used this concept to encourage children to read the story so they could relate to the playground and find the fun in reading.

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We inspired children to understand the original storybook by using real graphics from the book for the characters of Dorothy, Cowardly Lion, Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow and Toto. The images were reproduced onto play panels where holes were cut out to allow children to actually become the characters and create a photo opportunity. This is just one way we help bring the storybook to life for children. Additionally, the entry has a long Yellow Brick Road, which passes under a rainbow archway where children begin their play experience. The colors from the rainbow archway filter down onto the children on sunny days, and we hear them saying things like, “Look I am green and now I am red. I’m a rainbow!”

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One of the other designers, Rene Albacete, decided to add some funny reading opportunities throughout the play environment. Kids and their families find surprise text on Toto’s Doghouse that reads “Dear Dorothy, I took the shoes. Find your own way home.” We added names to the balloon escape play equipment to identify which balloon was from the Kansas State Fair. We even designed “OZ” into the rubber safety surfacing outside of the Emerald City of Oz castle. I also added educational reading opportunities like the Word Search game in which children can find all kinds of words relating to the Oz storybook. Some other reading opportunities include Aunt Em’s mailbox, Toto’s Doghouse, the Chicken Coop and the directional sign at the entrance that points visitors to the Yellow Brick Road or Ruby Red Shoes.

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A lot of parents and children who visit the playground say they are so excited about the space, and talked about going to the library to check out the book to read the full story. Parents say they are going to enjoy teaching their children that reading a book is fun in a day when so much information is prepared electronically.

Make Your Mark with Playground Design

Whether realized or not, the design of our surrounding environment influences how we engage, learn and develop. A playground is a social space, and every child is different. That’s why we design playgrounds that honor each child’s pathway, while offering fun and exciting new challenges.

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It’s possible to create unique playground designs at an affordable price tag. Incorporate Smart Play®: Venti® along with freestanding play components like our Rhapsody™ Outdoor Musical Instruments to create a unique space with a variety of play experiences.

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Playgrounds come in all shapes, sizes and styles. You can bring a fantasy world to life by incorporating customized playground components into your design. Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Md., based its design on the story of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Or use custom playground design to celebrate the heritage of your community. The Wabun Picnic Area at Minnehaha Regional Park in Minneapolis, Minn., steps back in time with a thematic nod to its origins as an auto tourist camp.

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Bring children and families of all abilities together for play with an inclusive playground design. By keeping the needs of all users in mind during the design process, you can create a play environment like the Jonesboro Miracle League Park in Jonesboro, Ark., that increases access, safety, comfort and social participation.

Tom Sawyer Island at Amelia Earhart Park

The great outdoors is the number one spot where kids can play naturally—making up their own games while freely exploring the world around them. The playground on Tom Sawyer Island at Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah, Fla., helps promote outdoor adventure with its recycled wood-grain panels, woodsy color scheme, and nature-inspired climbers that mimic rocks, mushrooms and logs.

Learn more about how you can #MakeYourMark in playground design by viewing our infographic, then contact your local playground consultant to get started on your next playground project.

Case Study: Teaching kids as they play

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Client: Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC), Upper Marlboro, Md.

Designers: Brenda Iraola, landscape architect supervisor; Chris Colvin, landscape architect; and Rene Albacete, landscape architect

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Goal: Create a storybook playground design for Watkins Regional Park based on the original Oz storybook to encourage learning through play

Solution: Kids and families can experience Auntie Em and Uncle Henry’s Kansas farm, Dorothy’s house, Munchkin Land, the poppy field, the Emerald City and Dorothy’s attempt to get home via hot air balloon. Even more, Dorothy’s ruby slippers were adapted to be playground slides! The design also includes a unique experience for the children to become the characters of the storybook. Brenda and her team used play panels containing graphics of the drawn storybook characters—Dorothy and Toto, the Cowardly Lion, Tin Woodsman and the Scarecrow—with cut-outs for children’s faces to allow them to become a part of the story.

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Read more about how the Wizard of Oz-themed playground at Watkins Regional Park has become the main attraction for visitors all over Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.