Mankato Downtown Kiwanis to create inclusive playground with Legacy of Play award

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A fourth grader who uses a wheelchair will soon get to play on the playground with her friends. Her story helped convinced a panel of judges to award the Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club $25,000 worth of inclusive playground equipment in the Legacy of Play Contest, sponsored by Landscape Structures Inc. and Kiwanis International. The award will be used to develop the Fallenstein Playground, an all-inclusive playground where children and families of all abilities can develop, discover, laugh and experience the joy of play.

Mankato, 75 miles southwest of Minneapolis, is renowned for its great parks and trails, and offers breathtaking landscapes of rivers, lakes, ravines, bluffs, natural prairies and forested areas. With a population of nearly 41,000, Mankato offers small town living in a thriving regional center. The all-inclusive Fallenstein Playground will be located adjacent to Fallenstein Field, the fully accessible baseball field used by the Miracle League of North Mankato, in Caswell Park.

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The Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club will complete its inclusive playground project on or around Kiwanis One Day in October 2018. Learn more about the project.

Summertime safety

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Summer is synonymous with outdoor fun. As the weather warms up and trips to the park and playground become more frequent, take steps to keep your children safe from the sun and heat.

Sunscreen in addition to lightweight clothing and a sun hat help protect against UVA and UVB rays. However, the best line of defense is by staying in the shade. When planning trips to the park, choose commercial playgrounds that integrate shade into the design. Our shade systems–SkyWays® and CoolToppers®–are designed to block up to 97 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays.

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During physical play at the playground, kids should have water available and should take a break regularly to stay hydrated. Our playground shade systems will also combat summer heat by keeping temperatures up to 30-degrees cooler. We even offer a shade option with a cool misting feature to help keep kids cool during the steamiest of play days.

In addition to providing protection from the summer sun and heat, the SkyWays and CoolToppers shade systems deliver a beautiful aesthetic to park, playground and recreation areas. Whether your goal is to shade a playground, dog park, pickleball courts or something entirely unique to your community, we have shade solutions to meet your needs. Contact us to learn more.

Exciting, new products for your 2017 playground designs

Good things start on the playground, and that’s because we have exciting new playground products for 2017.

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GeoPlex™

The abstract, geometric GeoPlex™ climbing panels for ages 5 to 12 come together in so many different ways to create endless patterns of visual and physical texture.

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Smart Play®: Nook 6-23

Sized just right for little crawlers and early walkers, the whimsical Smart Play®: Nook 6-23 offers plenty of colorful activities to capture the attention of young ones.

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Smart Play: Loft 2-5

Toddlers graduate from the Nook to Smart Play: Loft 2-5 and enter a world of imaginary play. Even more, the play structure encourages conversation between children and caregivers.

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WhooshWinder™ Slide

Give kids a fast, twisty ride down the WhooshWinder™ Slide from 6- or 8-foot decks.

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Double Swoosh Slide®

The Double Swoosh Slide® is our steepest double racer slide is now available in 8 feet height.

Learn more about these innovative new commercial playground equipment products on playlsi.com. And watch our video to see how we’re all #shapedbyplay at Landscape Structures.

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.

For a better tomorrow, we play today

We don’t just manufacture playgrounds at Landscape Structures. What we do here is shape kids’ lives… their futures. It has been more than 45 years since we’ve opened our doors and we continue to invest our hearts and souls into our work. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words to explain why we do what we do. But this video captures exactly what gets us out of bed every day… why we create the best playgrounds in the world: for a better tomorrow, we play today.

Share our video and use #shapedbyplay to tell us how play has shaped your life or how you’re helping to shape lives through play. Then go to shapedbyplay.com to learn more.

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.

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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.

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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.

Designed to reflect their culture

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We helped Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, Tenn., create a playground design to reflect their culture as an internationally diverse school. Hear from our custom playground designer, Jonah Scholen, about how he collaborated with the school to create the playground of their dreams. The end result? Students at Lausanne can run all over the world without ever touching the ground.