Meeting the needs of toddlers and preschoolers on the playground

Centre

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.

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.

Motion02-Blog

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.

Bringing literacy to the playground

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We’re excited to expand the Smart Play® line of playstructures with designs especially for toddlers and preschoolers. Introduced in 2017, Loft delivers interactive elements to engage developing minds and bodies. And now, the Loft family has grown to include the Fire Station and Market Cafe to further encourage social and imaginative play for 2- to 5-year-olds.

With the Fire Station, kids can take control at the wheel, pet Sparky the friendly fire dog or slide down to their next adventure. There’s plenty more to keep them busy including an object find game, a bell and a gear shift, and a fun mirror that shows them how they’d look in uniform.

 

The Market Cafe lets little ones take turns placing meal orders, dining with friends and talking about healthy food choices. Among lots of activities, kids can make pictures in the image panel, bing-bong the apple bell and chat about food colors and tastes.

Double the fun by connecting any two of these Smart Play playstructures–Loft, Fire Station or Market Cafe–with an elevated crawl tunnel to enhance the imaginative fun and physical activity levels. Or connect all three to create the Centre for kids to explore and stay active.

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Best of all, with guidance from the National Head Start Association and Too Small to Fail, developmentally appropriate activities including literacy prompts were incorporated throughout the designs to engage children and adults in language-rich conversations.

See Centre in action below, and go to playlsi.com for more details about the Smart Play line.

Create inspired play experiences

Exceed community expectations by creating amazing playground designs. Our innovative new playground products will deliver engaging and educational play experiences that will keep kids safe. Even more, we’ll ensure that your playground project stays within budget and is delivered on time. Collaborate with us in 2018 and bring your playground visions to life.

See the new 2018 playground and shade products offered exclusively from Landscape Structures.

Alpha Link™ Towers

Alpha™ Tower & Alpha™ Link Towers
Bring height to the playground with the geometric design of these 20-foot towers.

Centre

Centre
Engage developing minds and bodies with language-rich conversation prompts while little ones play.

Friendship™ Swing

Friendship™ Swing
This face-to-face swing delivers a great way for individuals of all ages and abilities to swing together.

Facet

Facet™ Forms
This collection of modular forms is inspired by natural geometries found in nature.

DigiRiders™

DigiRiders™
Created using digital artwork, these updated spring riders produce an experience that excites the eyes and body.

FitCore™ Extreme

FitCore™ Extreme
High-intensity strength training challenges kids, teens and adults to get and stay fit.

SkyWays® shade products

SkyWays® Shade Products
Provide cool and reliable shade for playgrounds, dog parks or pickleball courts, and everything in between.

Learn about even more new products for your playground projects by visiting playlsi.com. Then contact your local playground consultant to get started on an amazing playground design today.

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.

Guest Blog: Inspiring creative play among kids

Venti_Blog

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.

Birchview03_blog

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.

Playground activities to help develop smart kids

After years of observing toddlers and preschoolers at play, one thing is certain… they are on the move. These younger kids are still developing many of their senses and skills, so they are interested in playground activities that move—steering wheels, puzzles, shape-and-fit games. That’s why we’ve created the Smart Play line with interactive playground activities for kids ages 2 to 5.

Smart Play: Cube 2-5

NEW Smart Play: Cube 2-5

While the Smart Play designs—Smart Play: Cube 2-5, introduced earlier this year, and Smart Play: Motion 2-5, introduced in 2014—welcome kids ages 2 to 5, they were designed specifically to meet the needs of 2- and 3-year-olds. Every playground activity was thoughtfully included because of their developmental benefits to help toddlers and preschoolers build their senses, motor and cognitive skills, and encourage cooperation and imaginative play.

Smart Play: Motion 2-5 was introduced in 2014

Smart Play: Motion 2-5 was introduced in 2014

And now with two unique designs from which to choose—mid-century modern or more whimsical—playground planners can incorporate these affordable, activity-packed play structures into tight spaces and budgets. Even more, you can feel good about purchasing Smart Play structures; they’re manufactured using a smart use of materials.

Tell us what you think about our Smart Play line of playground designs below, and then visit playlsi.com to learn more.