Case Study: Shaping sky-high visions into just-right solutions

Cloud-themed playground structure in Bicentennial Park

Client: The City of Hawthorne, From Lot to Spot and the Trust for Public Land

Designers: SWA and Jonah Scholen, Landscape Structures custom playground designer

Goal: Convert an unused concrete space into a community-designed green space including playgrounds for children and recreation activities for all ages

Hillside climbers and slide in Bicentennial Park

Solution: The City of Hawthorne collaborated with SWA, their local playground consultant, RecWest Outdoor Products, and Jonah to create an aviation-themed playground design. The PlayBooster® and Netplex® playstructures encourage kids ages 5 to 12 to climb higher and higher until they reach the clouds, while 2- to 5-year-olds explore the twin-prop plane-themed playstructure.

Twin-prop airplane-themed playground in Bicentennial Park

Get more details about how the playground at Bicentennial Park encourages kids of all ages to go sky-high.

Generate discussion about the importance of play

Are you looking for resources on trends affecting the playground industry? We can help! We’ve created whitepapers to help generate discussion about the importance of play in early childhood development, outdoor play during school hours, and balancing safety and challenge, and serve as a reference during future playground projects. Get details below about each of our whitepapers, and request a download today.

Decline in children’s play time shown in new study

Shaped by Play: The Formative Role of Play and Playgrounds
Child’s play, we are learning, is not just fun and games. Children’s play behavior appears to be essential preparation for a successful adult life. We partnered with the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development to understand how behavior on school and community playgrounds contributes to whole-child development. This meta-study aggregates and analyzes key findings from some of the most influential studies on children and play.

Playgrounds are a place where children can learn and grow through exploration and social interactionLearn about the importance of balancing safety and challenge for kids ages 5 to 12.

Balancing Safety & Challenge in Playground Design
Playgrounds are a place where children can learn and grow through exploration and social interaction. However, that development can’t take place without age and developmentally appropriate challenges. Parental concern along with standards that have decreased design freedom are contributors to the lack of challenging opportunities in today’s play equipment. Finding a balance between challenge and safety is important to childhood development, and society can help determine a healthy median.

Both outdoor physical activity and indoor classroom time are important for kids’ growth and development.

The Importance of Outdoor Play & Physical Activity During School Hours
Both outdoor physical activity and indoor classroom time are important for kids’ growth and development. School provides students with the education they need to have a successful career, and physical activity gives them a chance to stay healthy. Unfortunately, not all kids get their daily 60 minutes outside. School is a place where kids can supplement the lack of physical activity they get at home, and help kids become smarter, healthier and stronger.

Find more playground education resources including continuing education sessions and infographics at playlsi.com.

Big fun comes in small packages

Centre

Centre – 2 to 5 years

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.

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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

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®

Venti® – 5 to 12 years

See Centre in action below, and visit playlsi.com for more details.

Bringing literacy to the playground

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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.

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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.

Building the leaders of tomorrow

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Play shapes us. It helps build leaders, encourage collaboration, teach persistence, develop problem-solving skills and much more. That’s why we launched the Shaped by Play Scholarship in June. Our goal was to fund activities that help build the leaders of tomorrow.

We accepted nominations for the scholarship throughout the summer, and are excited to announce the winners! We were able to award 16 individuals a scholarship to participate in activities ranging from figure skating lessons to invention camp.

See the list of scholarship recipients below, and see how they’re planning to use the funds:

  • Audrey D. from Victoria, B.C., will participate in summer figure skating camps
  • Chad D. from Lexington, S.C., will get inspired at Camp Invention
  • Charlize H. from Forest Park, Ga., will take an educational trip to Disney World focused on physics
  • Connor N. from Mifflinburg, Penn., will attend soccer camp, art lessons or an engineering/creative activity
  • Dmitri J. from Belvidere, Ill., will continue cello lessons at the Music Academy of Rockford
  • Emily S. from Victoria, B.C., will participate in a sports camp next summer
  • Ka’Mauri D. from Washington, D.C., will take charge of her own learning experience at Steve & Kate’s Camp next summer
  • Kelsey M. from Tallahassee, Fla., will improve her skills through club volleyball camps at the Prostyle Volleyball Academy
  • Kendal F. from Washington, D.C., will participate in gymnastics classes
  • Lauren N. from Palatka, Fla., will play in the upcoming soccer season and buy new equipment
  • Lili L. from Houston, Texas, will compete in the Miracle League All-Star Game
  • Miranda E. from Bennett, Colo., will take swimming lessons and purchase a membership to the pool
  • Morgan M. from Pittsburgh, Penn., will put the scholarship dollars towards college tuition, books and housing
  • Scott B. from Cypress, Texas, will compete in the Miracle League All-Star Game
  • Terron G. from Katy, Texas, will play in the Miracle League All-Star Game
  • Xavier D. From Lexington, S.C., will take on challenges at Camp Invention

Stay tuned throughout the next year, as we check in with our Shaped by Play Scholarship recipients to learn about their experiences.

Connecting play and learning at Greater & Greener 2017

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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.

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Principals Build Playground at Pennsylvania Elementary School

Last Saturday, nearly 150 principals representing the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) came together to build a playground at Stonehurst Hills Elementary School in Upper Darby, Penn. The community service day was part of the 2017 National Principals Conference held in Philadelphia.

The playground was designed for students ages 5 to 12, and features the new GeoPlex™ climbing panels as well as various ground-level climbers, overhead ladders, and bridges and balancing activities. In addition to building the school playground, principals landscaped, painted and participated in other beautification projects at the school.

As you can see from the tweets, principals had a blast during the build. This is the ninth year that we’ve partnered with NAESP to build a playground at a deserving elementary school. Learn more about the NAESP Annual Conference and save the date: July 9-11, 2018 in Orlando, Fla.