Taking #shapedbyplay on the road

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: We are all shaped by play. We feel so strongly about this message that we took it on the road to the 2017 NRPA Annual Conference in New Orleans and ASLA Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.

Our booth spaces at both shows perfectly illustrated how we are all shaped by play. From showcasing those three words front and center to the photos of kids on our playground equipment, shade structures and aqua play products, the tree featuring artwork from local school kids and fun swag, we encouraged all visitors to consider how they were shaped by play.

Continue to share how you’re shaped by play and how you’re helping to build the leaders of tomorrow through play using #shapedbyplay. For a little inspiration, check out our video below.

Spinning into New Orleans

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The ASLA Annual Meeting & Expo kicks off tomorrow in New Orleans, and we’re looking forward to connecting with everyone. If you’re attending, join us for the following:

  1. Opening General Session. We’re excited to sponsor a discussion with two of the most influential thinkers and practitioners of landscape architecture’s past 50 years. Join us on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 8 a.m. CST for Shared Wisdom: Legacy, Practice, and Partnership.
  2. EXPO. Take a spin around the EXPO, and be sure to visit us in booth #1221 on Saturday and Sunday for a play break. And check out Aquatix™ by Landscape Structures (formerly Aquatic Recreation Company) in booth #1233 to learn about the newest products for interactive water playgrounds.
  3. ASLA Student Awards Scholarships. Get a glimpse of the future of the profession. We’re pleased to provide scholarships to attend the annual meeting to these student leaders.

Additionally, stop by the LAF (Landscape Architecture Foundation) booth #100 to learn about its 50 & Forward Campaign. We are proud to support this campaign and its effort to expand existing programs and support new initiatives of the LAF.

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.

Celebrating landscape architecture throughout April

In addition to being Autism Awareness Month, this April has also been designated as World Landscape Architecture Month. The month-long event celebrates landscape architecture and the work its professionals do to design public and private spaces.

World Landscape Architecture Month 2015

We’re proud to be able to work with landscape architects to create innovative playground designs. Whether it’s a curvy, sprawling design of playground nets, an environment that teaches kids about the history of their community, or a themed playground that sends kids on an adventure in their imagination, playgrounds designed by landscape architects become spaces that welcome individuals of all ages, abilities and cultures.

Summit Park, Blue Ash, Ohio

We love the result of collaborating with landscape architects, but their designs go way beyond parks and playgrounds. See projects “Designed By A Landscape Architect” by following #wlam2015 on social media, then visit asla.org to learn more about World Landscape Architecture Month and the landscape architecture profession.