Principals celebrate 10 years of playground builds during NAESP

On Sunday, more than 100 of the nation’s elementary school principals came together to build a playground at Catalina Elementary School in Orlando, Fla. The playground build is part of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Community Service Day, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.

The playground was designed for students ages 5 to 12, and features playground slides, climbers, and activity panels in addition to overhead events and bridges. The playground is ADA compliant and was designed to welcome children of all abilities. In addition to building the playground, principal volunteers will do landscaping, painting, and other beautification projects at the school.

As you can see from the tweets, principals had a blast during the 10th anniversary build. Other build locations throughout the years include Tampa, Seattle, Long Beach and Compton, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Prince George’s County, Md. Learn more about the NAESP Annual Conference and save the date: July 10-12, 20198 in Spokane, Wash.

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.

Giving children of all abilities a safe environment to play

We’re excited to announce that the Kiwanis Club of Marietta, Ohio, is the winner in the 5th Annual Legacy of Play contest. The club, which will receive $25,000 in playground equipment, plans to renovate the community’s nearly 30-year-old playstructure to make it inclusive for the entire community, giving children of all abilities a safe environment to gather outside to socialize, grow and play.

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“This award is going to be such a boost,” said Marcia Stewart, who managed the Kiwanis Club of Marietta’s entry into the contest. “We’re so grateful to be able to spearhead this inclusive playground project.”

Marietta is a historic, charming riverboat town nestled in the rolling hills of the Mid-Ohio Valley. The city served as the starting point for westward expansion by early pioneers, and the design of the all-inclusive Northwest Territory Community Playground will pay tribute to the area’s first settlement. From themed and inclusive playground equipment, embedded historical facts and an artifact seek-and-find activity, adults and children in the community will have the opportunity to learn about the area.

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We’re excited to see this inclusive playground vision come to life over the next year. The Marietta Kiwanis Club hopes to complete the Northwest Territory Community Playground on or around Kiwanis One Day in October 2019. Stay tuned for updates along the way.

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.

May is National Water Safety Month

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As the temperatures warm and children and families begin to participate in more water-related recreational activities, now is a great time to revisit safe practices in and around water. Check out the following safety tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards
  • Always swim with a buddy
  • If you go boating, wear a life jacket
  • Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub
  • Actively supervise children whenever around the water
  • Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions
  • Keep toys not in use away from the water and out of sight
  • Reach or throw aid to distressed swimmers; don’t go

The National Water Safety Month campaign is a joint effort of the American Red Cross, The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, the National Recreation and Park Association and the World Waterpark Association. The annual event, which has been in existence for nine years, is designed to help prevent drowning and water-related illness and injuries.

Be water safe this summer–take the “I’m a Safe Swimmer” pledge with your entire family. Go here for more details about National Water Safety Month.

Maintaining the safety of your playground

It’s National Playground Safety Week, which is a great time to focus on the maintenance of your playgrounds. Maintenance issues contribute to approximately one-third of playground injuries each year. To ensure safe play, keep your playground structures soundly inspected and fully functioning. See five easy steps to take in our infographic below.

Proactive Playground Maintenance