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.

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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Encouraging whole-child development with toddler playgrounds

Toddlers and preschoolers always find new, but not always safe, ways to play. That’s why we make playground safety a top priority by creating age- and developmentally appropriate products like our Smart Play® playstructures.  The Smart Play designs specifically for toddlers and preschoolers are packed with play activities to help build their senses, and motor and cognitive skills. See below for more details about these designs:

  • Nook: Designed for kids ages 6 to 23 months, its 20 interactive components prompt adult-child conversations and support whole-child learning across key developmental domains.
  • Loft: Handrails lead 2- to 5-year-olds up into a world of imaginary play, with a built-in find-it game, learning activities, lower level clubhouse and so many more interactive elements.
  • Cube: Plenty of activities in this modern, compact playground design means plenty of fun for little explorers ages 2 to 5.
  • Motion: Packing 16 activities into a compact space, the whimsical Motion playstructure keeps kids ages 2 to 5 entertained in a safe, developmentally appropriate way.

Even more, we’ve partnered with Too Small to Fail to create language-rich playgrounds using their Talking is Teaching creative content on panels and signage throughout the playground. These literacy panels will encourage parent-child conversations to help prepare children for success in school and beyond.

Let's Talk About Food

Learn more about how to create a dream playground for toddlers and preschoolers at playlsi.com, and get started on an early childhood playground design by contacting us here.

The smartest duo in play

We introduced the Smart Play concept in 2014, and the newest additions to the family take the smart to a whole new level. Smart Play: Nook was designed for kids ages 6 to 23 months and Smart Play: Loft is for kids ages 2 to 5 years. Together, they span a critical period of childhood development.

The Nook and Loft activities and messaging were developed with guidance from the National Head Start Association and Too Small to Fail. They encourage adult-child conversations to support language development and literacy as well as support whole-child learning.

Best of all, the Nook and Loft playstructures take kids from early crawling exploration on up to active climbing and social play in a fun, whimsical environment. Whether playing inside or outside the Nook, the intentional sight lines let you keep your eye on little crawlers and early walkers at all times. And with 20 play activities, the Loft encourages imaginative play while helping to develop both large and small motor skills as well as strategic thinking.

Learn more about this duo of smart playstructures at playlsi.com, and use #shapedbyplay to tell us how your kids are developing through play and playgrounds.

Good things start on the playground

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Good things start on the playground. That chance moment when kids from anywhere get together just to be kids. To free their spirits, their bodies, their minds.

To play.

And through play, kids show persistence, leadership, competition, bravery, support, empathy. They show us who they will become as adults. They show us, as adults, who we should be now. Yes, good things start on the playground. And last a lifetime.

Browse or request your 2017 Playground Equipment Catalog and find inspiration for your next playground design. And we encourage you to share how you were #shapedbyplay in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Case Study: Taking Global Education to the Playground

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Client: Lausanne Collegiate School, Memphis, Tenn.

Designers: Jonah Scholen, Landscape Structures custom playground designer

Goal: Demonstrate the school’s global brand and represent the internationally diverse population—30 percent of students and/or parents represent 54 different countries

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Solution: Lausanne collaborated with their local playground consultant, Recreational Concepts, and Jonah to create a world-themed design. The playground includes 14 different playstructures that represent a tour of the world on safety surfacing designed to mimic a world map. The playground includes the ZipKrooz™, which takes students from the Horn of Africa to Australia. Plus, climbable replicas of Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal provide opportunities for kids to interact, engage in imaginative play and discover the world beyond them while staying active.

Read more about how the playground at Lausanne Collegiate School has become a space to play and learn.

How to design nature playground environments

Orono Park, Elk River, Minn.Not many of us would disagree that technology is great—it provides convenience, fun and connection to everything. However, all of that technology has also changed the way children play. Kids are spending more time inside, in front of screens and they’re being less active.

Booker T. Washington Elementary School, Tampa, Fla.

So, how do you get them to turn off the screens and go outside to play? By creating fun, challenging and innovative playground environments! 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:

  1. Use vegetation as shade rather than cutting down trees or shrubs
  2. Take into account topography and natural features and incorporate them into the play experience
  3. Choose natural looking playground equipment that meets safety standards, fits the needs of your users and easily blends into your community
  4. Create educational signage to teach visitors about the native plants and animals

Sunset Park, Las Vegas, Nev.

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! Browse our nature-themed playgrounds to get inspired, and learn more about creating natural playgrounds.