Delivering natural play at the EPCOT® International Flower & Garden Festival

2018 EPCOT® International Flower & Garden Festival

We are excited to have our playground equipment featured at the 25th Annual EPCOT® International Flower & Garden Festival. The upcoming holiday weekend is the final one of the Festival. So if you’re near or planning a visit to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., be sure to go play at EPCOT.

New to the Festival this year is the Imagination Garden, which integrates play into the natural environment. Nestled among the flowers, trees and other landscaping elements is a maze of play. Kids of all ages can navigate the playground tunnels to discover fossil digs and Rhapsody® Outdoor Musical Instruments. Upon finding their way out of the maze, kids ages 2 to 5 find more playground fun with the hillscape climber, pod steppers and leaf panels while kids ages 5 to 12 can traverse their way up and around the Lunar Burst® Net Climber. The play space design truly plays off the aesthetics of the surrounding landscape design.

Get more information about the Landscape Structures playground equipment featured at the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. Then see how you can design nature-inspired playgrounds for your community or school playground at playlsi.com.

Guest Blog: Exploration through music

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.

StDavidsMusic04

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.

StDavidsMusic03

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.

The Canyon Collection™, landscape architects ROCKED Chicago

ASLA_Booth1

At the American Society of Landscape Architects Annual Meeting & Expo last weekend in Chicago, we ROCKED the exhibit hall! Our booth space featured The Canyon Collection™ and a customized Netplex™ in our new colors and the HealthBeat® Chest/Back Press and Elliptical stations.

ASLA_Booth2 ASLA_Booth3

Visitors to our booth were met with our nature-inspired climbers, which enticed many to test out their rock-climbing skills. All that play combined with Pop Rocks took attendees back to days from their youth. In addition to our booth, we were proud to sponsor the Opening General Session featuring creators of the PBS series, 10 Parks That Changed America. We also sponsored the Edible Landscape Celebration, which included healthy, locally sourced and heirloom foods, dancing and a Blues Brothers tribute!

Pat-and-Daryl

Even more, we were excited to celebrate our President Pat Faust, who was presented with an Honorary Membership in ASLA. This honor is given to non-landscape architects for their commitment to the landscape architecture profession.

We had a great time in Chicago visiting with park and recreation professionals, hearing from industry experts and taking in all that the city has to offer. Our employees and playground consultants are already looking forward to the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting in New Orleans!

ROCKing in Las Vegas

At the National Recreation & Park Association’s Annual Conference earlier this week in Las Vegas, we ROCKED the exhibit hall! Our booth space featured The Canyon Collection™ and a customized Netplex™ in our new colors, plus we had rock star cardboard cutouts, root beer kegs and Pop Rocks.

The Canyon Collection™ helped us ROCK the exhibit hall at NRPA.

Visits to our booth were met with our nature-inspired climbers, which enticed many to test out their rock-climbing skills. All that play combined with Pop Rocks took attendees back to days from their youth! On Tuesday night, we rocked the Exhibit Hall Reception with karaoke, margaritas in light-up glasses and lots of photo ops. It was so much fun, Elvis even stopped by to sing!

From nature-inspired climbers to Elvis, Las Vegas didn't disappoint.

We had a great time in Las Vegas visiting with park and recreation professionals, hearing from industry experts and taking in all that the city has to offer. Our employees and playground consultants are already looking forward to the 2016 NRPA Annual Conference in St. Louis!

Creating more excitement with playground colors

When it comes to playgrounds, color is just as important to a child’s learning environment as the play structure itself. To create a sensory-rich playground environment for children, we spent the past year researching outdoor environments and working with chemists to create color formulas in nature-inspired hues and tones. The new colors—Berry, Buttercup, Carbon, Grass, Lagoon, Paprika, Peacock and Sky—are designed to enhance a child’s play experience.

Nature-inspired playground colors

The benefits of these innovative colors are numerous:

  • Nature-inspired colors allow children to engage in a playground design that creates a calming experience. This is because tones that reflect the outdoors are familiar to children. For example, we wanted the tone Buttercup to relay the feeling of playing a field of flowers.
  • Unlike the average toy, which is meant to drive visually loud experiences, natured-inspired playground colors help children focus. This is particularly beneficial for children with sensory processing disorders who often seek soothing environments, and the tones Sky and Peacock are meant to replicate the calming sense of sky gazing or playing in a garden.
  • Our new color line intentionally adds a metallic fleck to a matte finish for a richer finish that creates texture and offers a tactile play experience.

Harry Thomas Sr. Playspace

Learn more about our color inspirations and our overall design philosophy at playlsi.com. And tell us here how you use color to create additional dimension in your designs.