Delivering natural play at the EPCOT® International Flower & Garden Festival

2018 EPCOT® International Flower & Garden Festival

We are excited to have our playground equipment featured at the 25th Annual EPCOT® International Flower & Garden Festival. The upcoming holiday weekend is the final one of the Festival. So if you’re near or planning a visit to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., be sure to go play at EPCOT.

New to the Festival this year is the Imagination Garden, which integrates play into the natural environment. Nestled among the flowers, trees and other landscaping elements is a maze of play. Kids of all ages can navigate the playground tunnels to discover fossil digs and Rhapsody® Outdoor Musical Instruments. Upon finding their way out of the maze, kids ages 2 to 5 find more playground fun with the hillscape climber, pod steppers and leaf panels while kids ages 5 to 12 can traverse their way up and around the Lunar Burst® Net Climber. The play space design truly plays off the aesthetics of the surrounding landscape design.

Get more information about the Landscape Structures playground equipment featured at the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. Then see how you can design nature-inspired playgrounds for your community or school playground at playlsi.com.

Meeting the needs of toddlers and preschoolers on the playground

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It’s important to keep the developmental needs of toddlers and preschoolers in mind when you’re designing playgrounds for your childcare facility or school. Playgrounds for young kids not only help them build their senses, and motor and cognitive skills, but they also teach them about cooperation and social imaginative play.

Keep the following five considerations in mind when designing early childhood playgrounds:

  1. Interaction Interactive playground features allow kids to get firsthand experience of the principle of cause-and-effect.
  2. Sensory Playgrounds should provide children a wealth of different tactile experiences, which can come from play with textured surfaces and by incorporating natural materials like sand and water.
  3. Challenge Play environments with developmentally appropriate challenges and puzzle-like features can help instill critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  4. Imagination Children should be able to use various components of the playground to express their creativity and to invent imaginative scenarios.
  5. Independence Playground structures should allow kids to feel independent through solo play, which fosters confidence and creativity without sacrificing safety.

Find more resources for your daycare of preschool playground including ways to keep your playground safe, information on fundraising and playground grants, and some of our key partnerships at playlsi.com.

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.

Case Study: Honoring a life cut short

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Client: Madison Claire Foundation, Woodbury, Minn.

Designers: Gabriel Cotten, Landscape Structures playground designer

Goal: After the loss of their daughter, Madison, Dana and Dave Millington wanted to create an inclusive playground to honor Madison’s short life while also delivering a space for families of all abilities to gather and experience “normal” activities.

Solution: After getting input from the rehabilitation team at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and talking to parents of children with disabilities, Dana and the Madison Claire Foundation’s Board of Directors broadened their idea of inclusive play to account for as many different situations as possible.

The inclusive playground design is fully ramped and includes many sensory-stimulating activities including a double ZipKrooz®, Sway Fun® glider, Cozy Dome®, We-saw™, Sensory Play Center®, OmniSpin® spinner, Roller Table and Oodle® Swing. Even more, there is a custom sensory tunnel, which is the highlight of the inclusive play design. The plum tunnel, with its star cutouts and marbles, invites intrigued visitors to step inside. Once inside, it’s a kaleidoscope of light and colors as the movement of the sun casts colorful stars on the opposite wall.

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Read more about how Madison’s Place has created a space for families to create lasting and happy memories.

Case Study: Creating lasting relationships with play and recreation

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Client: City of Jonesboro Parks & Recreation Department

Designers: Sheri Seminary, playground designer at Landscape Structures Inc.

Goal: Create a Miracle League recreation complex that could act as a showcase for all other Miracle Leagues

Solution: Their vision came to life as a 20-acre recreation complex complete with a rubberized ball field for children and adults with special needs, an inclusive playground, a concession stand, restrooms and a quiet room designed especially for children with autism. The inclusive playground focuses on access and offering sensory-stimulating activities including the Sensory Play Center®, OmniSpin® spinner, Roller Table, We-Saw™ and Sway Fun® glider. Even more, the playground integrates lots of shade right into the playstructure.

Read more about how the City of Jonesboro brought their community together through inclusive recreation at the Jonesboro Miracle League Park.

Case Study: Healing through play

Thomas M. Menino Park, Boston, Massachusetts

Client: Boston Redevelopment Authority, Boston, Mass.

Designers: Cheri Ruane, landscape architect at Spurr, Weston & Sampson’s design studio

Goal: Design an exciting and interesting playground that would be truly inclusive so that kids who are typically developing and those with special needs could play together

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Solution: Cheri and her team collaborated with physical and occupational therapists from nearby Spaulding Rehabilitation Center to learn and understand what kinds of therapy and activities should be supported in the park. The playground combines the Evos® playsystem with the PlayBooster® playstructure, landforms were used to create elevation so that space wasn’t taken up by really long lengths of ramps. And sensory-rich and therapy-specific components were included to meet the needs of all visitors.

Read more about how Thomas M. Menino Park brings fun and therapy to the Boston Waterfront.

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