Deliver social and cooperative play opportunities with playground spinners

Modern day merry-go-rounds attract kids of all ages and abilities. But why are kids so fascinated with spinning activities? Because it’s one of the core movements that engages the vestibular system. When a child twists and turns on playground spinners their brain receives signals to help control movement and balance. Even more, playground spinners deliver opportunities for social and cooperative play.

We understand that kids discover their world and how to be successful in it through sensory play. And the more sensory-rich play experiences kids are presented with, the more they can fully develop a wide array of skills necessary to engage, change and impact the world around them.

Adding multi-user spinners to playground designs is a great way to expand play spaces and freshen up the play experience. Best of all, while kids whirl and twirl their day away, they’re developing an array of motor, cognitive and social/emotional skills.

Try placing one spinner or multiple together to create a play zone filled with thrilling experiences that are great for kids of all ages and abilities. The Revi™ products including the ReviRock™ Bouncer, ReviWheel™ Spinner and ReviWhirl™ Spinner are a great option for this. Designed with inclusion in mind, all three Revi products are designed at transfer height, offer multiple ways to hang on, and provide plenty of room for kids of all abilities to lay down, sit, kneel or stand as they experiment with the motion.

When children play together, they develop in ways that they couldn’t alone. That’s why we develop multi-user spinners that combine the sensory input of spinning and social interaction among peers. Even better, many of these products like the We-Go-Round®, OmniSpin® Spinner and WhirlyQ® Spinner are inclusive to individuals of all ages and abilities.

Learn more about how certain types of play may shape children’s development by requesting our whitepaper, Shaped by Play: How Play Types Impact Development. Our observational research with the University of Minnesota examines whether certain types of developmentally significant play are best supported by certain playground components.

All Together: Design Matters. Play Matters More.

Imagine integrated ramps, belting and berms connecting kids of all abilities to all levels—from the ground all the way to the tower tops. Or winding walking paths that unite multiple play areas with a fitness course to multigenerational family fun.

Well-designed play brings everyone together. It’s why landscape architects and playground designers are constantly creating wildly original and wonderous kid-centric worlds. Bring your community together, by design, and play! View the virtual publication and request a copy of the 2023 PLAY Book.

We build unique play value into each design by incorporating moments of landscape play that provides multiple options for a child’s next move. Or featuring creative designs that help playgrounds blend into—or stand out from—their surroundings. View all of the unique designs of the 2023 PLAY Book in the video below.

Design your playground so that children and families choose it as their preferred destination. Contact your local Landscape Structures playground consultant to get started on your next playground design.

Two Kiwanis Clubs Named Co-Winners in the Legacy of Play Contest

Children of all abilities in Minnesota and Florida will soon have all-inclusive playgrounds at parks in their communities to play on thanks to their local Kiwanis clubs. The Albert Lea Noon Kiwanis Club in Albert Lea, Minn., and the Kiwanis Club of South Lake in Clermont, Fla., are co-winners of the ninth annual Legacy of Play contest, sponsored by Kiwanis International and Landscape Structures Inc. Each Kiwanis club will receive US$25,000 in inclusive playground equipment.

Albert Lea Noon Kiwanis Club’s inclusive playground design

Albert Lea, Minn., about 90-miles south of the Twin Cities, is home to nearly 20,000 people. And while the city has many great parks and playgrounds, none provided children of all abilities a place to play together. After learning of a parent group working to bring an inclusive playground to their community, the Albert Lea Noon Kiwanis Club committed to helping. The vision for the inclusive playground is for children of all abilities to play side-by-side with their peers, deliver a rich, sensory environment that encourages children to grow and learn at their own pace, and allow everyone to access every point of the space.

Kiwanis Club of South Lake’s inclusive playground design

The City of Clermont, Fla., a community just 22-miles west of Orlando, is known for being home to the United States Triathlon National Training Center. With the city motto being “Choice of Champions,” the Kiwanis Club of South Lake felt they needed to help children of all abilities feel like champions on the playground with an inclusive playground, which had been lacking in the community. Kiwanis and community members envision children of all abilities and their families easily accessing the playground as well as freestanding playground components like the We-Go-Round®, plus there will be activities that enhance sensory, cognitive, motor, social and emotional skills through sensory play panels and Rhapsody® Outdoor Musical Instruments.

Both clubs saw an outpouring of community support for the projects from the beginning, but particularly when it came time for the public vote on Facebook. Additionally, both clubs are working closely with the City of Albert Lea and City of Clermont, respectively, as well as have other strong partnerships with community organizations to ensure that the inclusive playground projects are installed and ready for children by 2024.

This year marks the ninth year of the contest sponsored by Kiwanis and Landscape Structures. The contest’s goal is to encourage Kiwanis clubs to bring play and playgrounds to their communities, providing a legacy of play for future generations.

Bring play to your community with the 2022 Legacy of Play Contest

The 2022 Legacy of Play Contest in partnership with Kiwanis International is open for applications! This is the ninth year we’ve partnered with Kiwanis to offer this contest, which awards one Kiwanis club US$25,000 in commercial playground equipment to be used toward a Landscape Structures playground project.

The Legacy of Play Contest helps Kiwanis clubs achieve their goal of bringing play to all children. See the timeline below, and review questions, read the official contest rules and submit your entry at kiwanis.org:

Entry Period. Connect with your local Kiwanis club and have them submit an entry now until Sept. 10.

Voting Period. All eligible entries will be open to public vote beginning Sept. 18. Encourage your community to vote!

Selection Period. The top 10 finalists from the public vote will be reviewed by a jury of past winners, members and more.

Winner Announcement. We, along with Kiwanis International, will announce the winner of this year’s contest on or around Oct. 13.

We’re happy to offer all 2022 Legacy of Play Contest entrants a complimentary ReviWheel™ Spinner, ReviWhirl™ Spinner OR ReviRock™ Bouncer, all of which were designed with inclusion in mind, if they continue on with their playground plans with Landscape Structures. Stay tuned for more details post-entry period.

Partner with the Kiwanis club in your community to apply for the 2022 Legacy of Play Contest and make your playground project a reality! Use the Club Finder to connect with local Kiwanis members, or contact your local Landscape Structures playground consultant to help introduce you.

Delivering adventure with playground towers

PlayOdyssey® Tower and Alpha® Tower

Playgrounds and outdoor play do so much more than expend a child’s excess energy. Playing on a playground teaches children self-regulation, how to handle stressful situations, and increase self-confidence and self-esteem. Including exciting and interesting playground elements that test and challenge children of all ages and abilities increases these benefits.

We are aware of the importance of designing challenge into our playground products as well as overall playground environments. Our team of playground designers, conceptors, sculptors and artists work with clients to create playgrounds that offer exciting and challenging play activities to not only entice children to participate and be active but help them to fully develop a wide array of skills.

The best way to create adventure-filled play experiences for kids of all ages and abilities is to look for playground designs that encourage the progression of the play experience. Playground towers like the Alpha® Tower and Alpha Link® Towers, Super Netplex®, PlayOdyssey® Tower or custom options like the Hedra® Towers all offer a variety of ground-level play components, plus deliver multiple climbing opportunities that take kids as high as they’d like as well as slide options along the way. Each of these playground towers help kids gain confidence through repeated and slow exposure to new challenges.

Additionally, the Super Netplex provides an inclusive play experience with an easy way to transfer and an accessible route to the top of the highest tower via its center spiral belting. Kids of all abilities can enjoy the view, hang out with friends and take whooshy rides down one of the playground slides.

Hedra® Towers

The research shows that if children are not provided with challenging play opportunities they may be more prone to problems such as mental health concerns, a lack of independence, and a decrease in learning, perception and judgement skills. Learn more about how to create adventure-filled playground designs using our various playground towers at playlsi.com. And learn more about balancing safety and challenge in playground design by requesting our whitepaper.

Partnering with state associations to advocate for play and recreation

We are excited to announce the 14th Annual Parks and Recreation State Speaker Scholarship Program has launched! The 2022-2023 program will support the appearances of keynote speakers at state parks and recreation associations’ annual or regional conferences. State associations that are chosen will receive a scholarship of $2,500. Applications are being accepted now through June 30, 2023; submit your application today!

Since the scholarship program’s inception in 2009, Landscape Structures has awarded more than 300 scholarships to state associations and nearly $800,000 to support the appearances of speakers at parks and recreation conferences throughout the nation.

Learn more about the 2022-2023 State Association Speaker Scholarship, or contact your local Landscape Structures playground consultant.

Welcoming and supporting all with Universal Design

Our design philosophy at Landscape Structures is heavily influenced by the tenets of Universal Design, a theory of design that strives to make environments more usable, safer and healthier for all. This philosophy has been part of our commitment to inclusion since co-founder, Steve King, was appointed to the Federal Access Board’s Recreation Access Advisory Committee in 1993.

Universal Design sets us up for equity, which is a step above equality. ​Equality is giving everyone the same treatment whereas equity is what we use to provide success and opportunity to all. ​So Universal Design goes beyond providing everyone the access to an even playing field… it delivers a chance to thrive in it.

Universal design simply means that it’s for everyone. Young, old, all levels of ability status, parents with a stroller, individuals that refuse to make two trips carrying the groceries inside… everyone. In theory, it should just be called design.

Our team of designers, engineers and inclusive play experts follow the Seven Principles of Universal Design:

  • Equitable Use. The design is useful to people with diverse abilities.

This is about as many people as possible being able to use a product in a really similar way. This is stuff like poured-in-place surfacing or turf with seamless transitions. People using mobility devices could roll on it as smoothly as non-users could walk on it. The We-Go-Round®, We-Go-Swing® and Sway Fun® glider are examples of playground components that fit this category.

  •  Flexibility in Use. The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities giving users a choice in how they engage each activity.

Flexibility in use offers choice to users, and a great example of this is the We-Go-Round. Individuals in wheelchairs can roll on and stay in their chairs or choose to transfer to the seat—they have and choice and can participate in whatever way they feel most comfortable. Other examples include the elevated sand table at different heights and multiple types of playground swings with unitary surfacing paths. It also includes having seating, sinks, hand dryers, adult-sized changing tables, etc. throughout the park and playground available for a variety of body heights and types to give people the option to find their flexible fit.

  • Simple and Intuitive Use. Use of the design is easy to understand regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills or current concentration level.

If an individual sees a drum, they know what to do with it. If they see the OmniSpin® Spinner, they know where to push it to make it go and where to sit to ride. It doesn’t cause stress or complications trying to figure it out. Obviously, there is a desire to provide challenge to kids on a play space with events that aren’t immediately intuitive, but in this case if the intent of the component is to spin, we want everyone to be able to figure that out quickly.

  • Perceptible Information. The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.

Symbol communication signs are a great tool to help all users communicate effectively while visiting parks and playgrounds. If there’s information people need to know or be able to communicate, it falls under this category. Think of a splash pad sign with all the rules—lots of words used to communicate “no eating” could easily be understood with a little circle crossing out food. It’s a more universal method of communication that more people can understand. Additionally, using color contrast and textures provide cues on changes in elevation, alert individuals to busier areas and much more.

  • Tolerance for Error. The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

With this design principal, planners discuss adding a fence to a play space to help keep kids that may wander or run away stay safe and contained. Another example of this is incorporating barriers on a commercial playground structure, which is meant to reduce the chances of a child accidentally backing up and falling off it. Additionally, when there is mixed safety surfacing such as engineered wood fiber (EWF) with rubber, the EWF must stay maintained so that there aren’t any major drop-offs to create hazards. If there have a sand table or something a wheelchair is supposed to roll underneath, the surfacing should extend underneath the front wheels to avoid having those users tip forward.

  • Low Physical Effort. The design can be used efficiently and comfortably.

Anything that keeps user more comfortable for longer, is considered low physical effort. Commercial shade structures, and gradual, low grade are two big topics to consider. Additionally, consider swing seat choices as well as those for the ZipKrooz®. Think of the kid who fatigues a bit quicker, with the Molded Bucket Seat they can still get that zooming sensation, but in a reclined position that’s less demanding on them.

  • Size and Space for Approach and Use. Appropriate size and space are provided for approach, reach, manipulation and use regardless of user’s body size, posture or mobility.

This principal gives people the chance to move around comfortably. If a standard sidewalk is 36-inches wide and a wheelchair is 26 of those inches, there’s no size or space for anyone to move through the space alongside the wheelchair user. Going extra wide with paths allow not only users with mobility devices a more comfortable experience but so too someone with a service dog or cane, or someone deaf or hard of hearing. The same theory goes for double-wide ramps and activity panels on the playground. Is there room for someone to push up to and play with it? Or if a wheelchair user is engaging with something, is there enough room for others to get around the chair?

Through Universal Design, we increase access, safety, comfort and social participation within all our play environments. This process creates a strong foundation for inclusive playground design that ultimately results in a place where all can play, learn and grow together. Learn more about our commitment to inclusive play at playlsi.com, or by contacting your local playground consultant.

Deliver fun and challenge with new climbers

Over the last two years, we’ve introduced some amazing products like the Smart Play® Tree Tops®, BeachComber® and Billows®. Those playstructures have been hits with kids and caregivers alike—they love each and every piece! That’s led us to create three awesome new climbers—the Vine Climber, Tidal Wave Climber and Mobius® Climber—to include in your PlayBooster® playstructure designs. These new climbers are a great new way to add a modern aesthetic to your more traditional playground designs.

Vine Climber

Vine Climber
Achieve great heights on the PlayBooster Vine Climber. Kids ages 5 to 12 will climb on the steel frame for sure footing or navigate the cables for more challenge. GripX steps at the six-foot level provide a perch to take in the view, change direction or hang out, while the SwiggleKnots™ Bridge integrated below was added for more wiggly fun.

Tidal Wave Climber

Tidal Wave Climber
Kids ages 5 to 12 will love surfing the wave! The Tidal Wave Climber provides over and under play with a variety of materials for different challenges. The upper belting and cables form a wavy, wiggly bridge, while the lower belting is a great spot to crawl through or hang out and watch the action.

Mobius Climber

Mobius Climber
The well-loved Mobius Climber is now available as a PlayBooster component! This uniquely designed Mobius Climber tests the agility and strength of courageous climbers ages 5 to 12. Twists and turns in the panels challenge kids to adapt their body position as they climb up to the 72″ deck.

Learn more about these new climbers and contact your local playground consultant to get started on a design today!

Encouraging play and communication on the playground

Playground design has been evolving to become more inclusive and inviting for children and their caregivers of all abilities. Play is not only fun, but it’s also an essential part of a child’s development and critical for the successful growth of both the brain and the body.

That’s why we’ve drawn on the expertise of child development professionals to help us explore new avenues that allow for all children to fully participate in play together. Our work doesn’t just focus on playstructures and activities that are accessible to children with physical disabilities, but also those who may have sight or hearing impairment, intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities.

Symbol Communication Sign

For individuals who are non-verbal, speech-challenged or early-learners—or perhaps are non-English speaking—their inability to share ideas, feelings and needs can be frustrating and may keep them from socializing with others at the playground. That’s why we’ve introduced the new Symbol Communication Sign to be placed at the entrance to play areas, which will ensure every child, family member and caregiver is allowed to further their expression, interaction and communication.

With guidance from experts in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and Inclusive Design, we developed the Symbol Communication Sign to include pictures representing nouns/pronouns, verbs, feelings, activities, and playground events as well as letters and numbers. The graphics are universally understandable and easy to use, arranged left-to-right as one would build a sentence and use industry-standard colors representing different types of words. The DigiFuse® graphics are printed on both sides of the Symbol Communication Sign.

We’re committed to providing play experiences for children of all abilities. Our inclusive play design philosophy, which addresses the accessibility, age and developmental appropriateness, and sensory-stimulating activity, and other inclusive play product innovations like the We-Go-Swing®, We-Go-Round®, We-saw™, OmniSpin® spinner and Sway Fun® glider, we’re helping bring children with and without special needs together to play, learn and grow on the playground. Learn more at playlsi.com.

Introducing endless thrills with Revi™ Products

We’re excited to introduce the Revi™ products, which includes the ReviRock™ Bouncer, ReviWheel™ Spinner and ReviWhirl™ Spinner. Each of these products, explained below, were created using a single sculptural form to deliver three different and thrilling play experiences.

The ReviRock Bouncer for ages 2 to 12 position on a large center spring bounces and rocks in all directions.

Designed for ages 5 to 12, the center wheel of the ReviWheel Spinner allows kids to spin themselves around and around.

Deliver an adventure in physics for kids ages 5 to 12 with the the ReviWhirl Spinner by offering spinning through perpetual motion or a push from the outside.

The Revi products were designed with inclusion in mind. All three products are designed at transfer height, offer multiple ways to hang on, and provide plenty of room for kids of all abilities to lay down, sit, kneel or stand as they experiment with the motion. Even more, the ReviWheel and ReviWhirl spinners include a proprietary dynamic speed control to keep spinning at a fun yet controllable speed.

Adding freestanding play components is a great way to expand existing play spaces and freshen up the play experience. Placing one or all the Revi products together with other freestanding spinners, the ZipKrooz® or a selection of playground swings creates a play zone filled with thrilling experiences great for kids of all ages and abilities.

See the new Revi products in action and learn more about each one at playlsi.com/revi-play/.