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.

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.

Guest Blog: Inspiring creative play among kids

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In 2016, we introduced Smart Play®: Venti™, a smartly designed playstructure that packs 20 exciting activities into its compact size. Today, we’re happy to have Tory Roff, concept designer at Landscape Structures, as our guest blogger discussing how he and the product development team created the newest addition to our Smart Play line of playstructures.

The idea for the Smart Play line of playstructures was more an ethos about playgrounds as a whole… about creating a cohesive play environment. The criteria for this playground solution was a small footprint and budget, but a desire to serve a large population. So, we started with a blank slate without any rules, and asked ourselves how to design an environment that invites a dynamic play experience.

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The design started with the Cargo Net and strategically set the height of it so there is room for play underneath, allowing it to work as a trampoline above and it also acts as a hub for the rest of the play space. We built out from there in respect to circuits and routes so there are different ways to engage the whole of the system. Graduated challenge is built into Smart Play: Venti so that kids with a higher skill level can find challenges and still have a way to invent from it.

We spent a lot of time in the model space—virtual and scale models—working out the dimensions of the structure to really understand how every piece could be doing more. In modular playgrounds, a fire pole is always a fire pole. But good design considers what programming is happening around the fire pole so that kids can create another route and link two events as a cohesive experience rather than a series of segmented happenings. And that’s what’s happening with Smart Play: Venti. The Cabin Climber is an interior club house and an exterior ladder. The pods on the Cargo Net are a way-finding option through the structure, but also a place to stop and hang out. The Belt Hammock is a space for lounging, but also an escape route—it’s not big, it’s not obvious, but it is there.

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I was able to talk with students at Birchview Elementary School while they played, and they talked about their friend, Michael, who uses a mobility device. They were excited that he can actually use this equipment, and how it’s his favorite on the playground. Because the design is less scripted, there’s less expectation of how a user actually engages it. Smart Play: Venti allows for more natural inclusion through the addition of many access points and a centralized hangout location, which was one of our primary goals during the design process.

There is enough variety of activities in the playstructure so that kids feel like they can fill in the blank however they want. As designers, we had ideas and hopes of how everything would play out. But you have to engage it from a place of humility and know that there isn’t such a thing as intended use. Kids are infinitely more creative than we are, so it’s important that we give them a platform to express that.

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.

Explore the power of outdoor musical instruments

We’re so excited about the new Rhapsody™ Outdoor Musical Instruments! Not only because the chimes, metallophones and playground drums bring people of all ages and abilities together for jam sessions, but because our musical instruments are the perfect addition to any space.

Rhapsody Outdoor Musical Instruments are a great addition to any new or existing school playgrounds. The instruments can be placed together to encourage musical ensembles or spread about individually for solo performances. Best of all, these outdoor musical instruments for schools will deliver a unique way for students to express themselves.

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Adding outdoor musical instruments to your park playground is another great option. Kids and their families will come together to create their own music or sound out familiar tunes together. And with the highest quality materials used to make the Rhapsody Outdoor Musical Instruments, your playground instruments will be great sounding, beautiful looking and long lasting.

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Because outdoor music play is a multigenerational activity, the Rhapsody Outdoor Musical Instruments fit more environments than just parks and school playgrounds. The outdoor music instruments can be installed at community and senior centers, museums and many other public spaces. These inclusive play activities are sure to encourage individuals of all ages and abilities to explore the power of music.

Join the band

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Music is joy. A joy that can be heard and felt. And that’s why we’re so excited to introduce our newest playground innovation—Rhapsody™ Outdoor Musical Instruments! Rhapsody was developed with a highly skilled music advisor to ensure every instrument produces a best-in-class musical quality.

Our outdoor musical instruments invite kids and adults of all abilities to join the band, be creative and express themselves. There are six different instruments available within the Rhapsody collection:

  • Grandioso™ Chimes Accommodating both solo and ensemble performances, these chimes soar two full octaves in a major key.
  • Vivo™ Metallophone Tubes make up the lush notes on this captivating instrument.
  • Animato™ Metallophone Flat bars make up 15 major notes on this instrument.
  • Drums High-quality drum skins stand up to the rigors of play and temperature extremes; choose from the Kundu Drum, Kettle Drum or Goblet Drum.

Our playful and elegant music collection can be installed anywhere—playgrounds, community centers, schools, museums and other public spaces—to encourage individuals of all ages and abilities to explore the power of music. Learn more at playlsi.com.