Splash play is more than just a fun way to cool off

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Summer is here! And with the warm weather, visits to lakes, pools, splash pads and spray grounds become a necessity for kids (and adults) of all ages. While staying cool is definitely in the top five reasons to seek out water play, there are numerous developmental benefits for kids of all ages.

1. Kids develop their motor skills. Pouring, squirting, stirring and squeezing develops kids’ fine motor skills hand-eye coordination. They also strengthen gross motor skills by running, dodging water drops and hopping through ground sprays or lawn sprinklers.

2. Water encourages kids to test new solutions to problems in a safe environment. Observing the filling of dumping buckets teaches kids about cause and effect. Even more, splash play inspires imaginative play, which plays an important role in problem solving.

3. Splish, splash, sieve, dump, spray… While they play, kids are developing their language skills. Conversations between a caregiver and a child as well as peers will help them to learn new words and practice the language they’ve recently developed.

4. Aqua play encourages role play and crucial social skills like cooperation and sharing. Kids learn to take turns going down the slides of the HydraHub1, work together to make the HydroHelix spin and share the space under the FlashFlood and VersoSplash®.

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5. You may not realize it, but water playgrounds are a great opportunity for kids to learn basic math and science skills. Interacting with the AquaGather Station introduces kids to physics and mathematics. Even more, spray play can be a chance to practice counting i.e. “How many dumping buckets are splashing you?” or “How many Splash Pack Animals do you see?”

As a parent or caregiver, you can help facilitate these developmental benefits by encouraging kids to stay active, try new things, use their imaginations, describe what they’re doing, ask questions, and count out what they’re seeing as they splish, splash and play.

To learn more about how to design a water playground that ensures a fun and educational experience for the entire family, go here. Then contact Aquatix by Landscape Structures to get started on a splash pad or spray park design today.

Big fun comes in small packages

Centre

Centre – 2 to 5 years

Smart Play® playstructures pack a lot of activities into compact structures, taking kids from early crawling exploration on up to active climbing and social play to a challenging course for older children. This line helps span several critical periods of childhood development, making it ideal for childcare, early learning centers, neighborhood playgrounds and schools.

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Motion – 2 to 5 years

Each Smart Play playstructure makes the most efficient use of materials to create a large number of activities. For example, cut-outs from panels are used to create activity components found elsewhere on the playstructure. And the compact size of these structures requires less space and surfacing materials than typical playgrounds resulting in a lower total investment. That means Smart Play playstructures are ideal for tight spaces and tight budgets, too.

 

Smart Play structures are preconfigured and designed with your choice of color. All at a smart price. Lots of Smart Play options are available for kids ages 6 months to 12 years:

Nook

Nook – 6 to 23 months

  • Nook – 6 to 23 months
    Sized right for little crawlers and early walkers, this whimsical playstructures 20 colorful activities to capture young ones’ attentions.
  • Loft – 2 to 5 years
    As young children grow, they become ready for Loft. With language prompts and learning activities connected to early childhood curriculum goals, you’ll find plenty of interactive elements.
  • Fire Station – 2 to 5 years
    Kids will enjoy lots of activities that teach them about fire safety and helping others in this imagination encouraging playstructure.
  • Market Cafe – 2 to 5 years
    This farmer’s market and cafe lets little ones take turns placing meal orders, dining with friends and learning about healthy food choices.
  • Centre – 2 to 5 years
    Connect all three playstructures–Loft, Fire Station and Market Cafe–with elevated crawl tunnels to create Centre, and enhance the fun.
  • Motion – 2 to 5 years
    This accessible playstructure packs 16 activities into its compact size, and encourages kids to engage in social and imaginative play.
  • Cube – 2 to 5 years
    A curated collection of interactive play events help build cognitive and motor skills for toddlers and preschoolers while they play.
  • Venti® – 5 to 12 years
    Nets, slides, belts and climbers provide challenges that promote physical development and strategic thinking while also creating hangouts.
Venti®

Venti® – 5 to 12 years

See Centre in action below, and visit playlsi.com for more details.

Spreading global awareness about Sensory Processing Disorder

STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder

October is Sensory Awareness Month, and we’re already focusing on next month because we want to help spread global awareness about this disorder.

On Oct. 6-7, our partners at the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder will host their 20th Annual International 3S Symposium in Denver, Colo. The Symposium will highlight 20 years of research accomplishments with though-provoking research and strategy presentations by clinical experts.

The Symposium is great for any individuals–occupational or physical therapists, special education teachers, early intervention specialists, parents and more–seeking a better understanding of Sensory Processing Disorder. And in addition to the two-day Symposium, the STAR Institute is hosting a pre-symposium workshop for parents focused on relationships and SPD across the lifespan.

Learn more and register for the 3S Symposium and pre-symposium workshop here. And watch our short video below to learn more about the history of the STAR Institute.

How playground spinners help develop kids’ senses

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OmniSpin® spinner

What are your kids’ favorite playground activities? Modern day merry-go-rounds and playground swings tend to attract droves of kids. So why are kids fascinated with swinging and spinning activities? Because it’s one of the core movements that engages the vestibular system. When a child spins on spinners like the OmniSpin® spinner or Saddle Spinners their brain receives signals to help control movement and balance. Even more, our playground spinners are not only fun, but they also deliver opportunities for social and cooperative play.

Children discover their world and how to be successful in it through sensory play. They develop their behaviors based on what they learn through their senses. And the more sensory-rich play experiences they have, the more they develop skills necessary to engage, change and impact the world around them. Learn more at playlsi.com, and tell us below what playground activity your kids like best.

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.

ROCKing into Chicago!

ASLA 2015 | Chicago, Ill. | Nov. 6-9

The ASLA Annual Meeting & Expo kicks off tomorrow in Chicago, and we’re looking forward to connecting with everyone. If you’re attending, join us for the following events:

  1. Opening General Session. We’re excited to sponsor speakers from the PBS series, “10 Parks That Changed America.” Join us at Saturday, Nov. 7, at 8 a.m. CST for a lively discussion.
  2. Exhibit Hall. Do you wanna ROCK? Then visit us in booth #1421 on Saturday and Sunday as we rock the playground!
  3. An Edible Landscape Celebration. Join us Saturday, Nov. 7, at 8 p.m. at the Chicago Illuminating Company for healthy, locally sourced and heirloom foods. Plus, there’s talk of a Blues Brothers tribute!
  4. Education Session. Join John McConkey and Dr. Lucy Jane Miller on Sunday, Nov. 8, at 11 a.m. in A11 to learn about Evidence-based Design: Sensory Play Gardens and Children with Developmental Disorders.

Why do my kids like playground spinners?

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NEW! TopsyTurny™ Spinner

Think back to your days spent on the playground. What were your favorite playground activities? For many of us here at Landscape Structures, our favorites were the Merry-Go-Round and playground swings. And today, if you spend any time at your local playground, you probably notice a number of kids that flock to these same types of components.

Saddle Spinner

Saddle Spinner

Why are some kids so fascinated with spinning activities? Because it’s one of the core movements that engages the vestibular system. When a child spins on spinners like the TopsyTurny™ or OmniSpin® spinners, their brain receives signals to help control movement and balance. Even more, our playground spinners provide fun and also present opportunities for kids to be more social and engage in cooperative play.

OmniSpin® spinner

OmniSpin® spinner

Children discover their world and how to be successful in it through sensory play. They develop their behaviors based on what they learn through their senses. And the more sensory-rich play experiences they have, the more the develop skills necessary to engage, change and impact the world around them. Learn more about sensory playgrounds at playlsi.com, and tell us below what playground activity your kids like best.