Natural playgrounds, also known as playscapes, involve as few man-made parts as possible. They are either themed natural playgrounds or playgrounds made of natural waste like that of trees.
With constantly evolving technology and rising concern of children’s safety, many kids these days are confined to city playgrounds in guarded environments. They don’t get to take the types of risks outdoors that were considered normal for their parents and previous generations. With rising popularity of natural playgrounds, we suggest creative ways to create one.
Here are 10 tips to create a natural playground:
- One of the best things about creating a natural playground is that you can give your kids the space to use their creativity. One way to do that is by developing a play environment that offers opportunities for storytelling by incorporating items like dinosaurs, shelters, hiding spots, combinations of logs, etc.
Let’s take the example of shelters and hiding spots:
A natural shelter is more fun than a basic plastic one. Last few years, this trend has been on an up-rise. You could get equipment like the big Castle Rock, which could be a good hiding spot for games like hide-n-seek and others. They are used in more ways like storytelling play, climbing, running around, etc.
- Give the kids opportunities to create and the landscape will change every day. Throw in things like wood, stones and building materials and see them use their minds with flying colors. They also keep children hooked for longer times as they can be changed every time the child gets bored of the previous arrangement. This is a boon.
You could add simple elements that can be used to create some kind of an art. For example, you could use sticks and landscaping materials to create natural canvases with pictures on it. The kids can color the sketches with sand, flowers, mud, leaves and more.
Digging has since long been one of the most favorite activities, with our without the presence of manufactured sandboxes. Kids used to play in natural sands in the playgrounds for digging, burying and finding objects. Now, there has been an advent of proper sandboxes by playground manufacturers that can contain sufficient amounts of sand and are safer.
Boulders or big rocks provide great additions to playscapes. They are fun to stand on, hop onto other boulders arranged in a fashion of your choice. Children can also use washable chalk to draw and color various figures on these. They come in different sizes for your various needs.
Studies have shown that balance beams are important yet fun activities for kids. The act of balancing teaches kids the concept of sides and also makes them aware of the positioning of their bodies in a certain space. Experts suggest the latter helps kids learn the ability to sit still in class and remain stable in chairs. You can install a Log Beam for the same.
Kids don’t climb real trees or explore canyons anymore. Climbing trees and other natural structures is a great cognitive activity. While climbing, kids have to merge their desire to climb the tree or a rock with their actual ability to do so between the brain signaling their bodies with each movement and figuring a proper path to victory (branch/rock crevice support, reach and the like).
But thanks to some innovative manufacturers, there are safe natural products that provide the same experience to kids.
Examples of some great equipment are:
- Utah Climber: A big rock climber that was cast from a real rock in Utah
- Hollow Log Climber: This tree climber allows the little ones to climb through a log rather than climbing on one.
- You could use water in innovative ways. One way is to create places to float boats. There is a lot more you can do with water.
- Plant herbs and other plants with vivid colors or soft textures for a sensory garden for a completely natural experience.
You can always do that along with the children themselves. You could teach them how to sow seeds, nurture and watch them grow. This is a profound experience for kids. It also automatically teaches them the skill of gardening.
- The most efficient way to create a natural playground is to convert an underutilized side yard or backyard corner into a natural play area. It is economical and customized as per your needs.
- Integrate traditional playgrounds with natural ones. Instead of having a child climb a set of straight stairs to go down a slide, a natural playground would use a rock or a slope fitted into the slide.
Henderson Recreation offers a wide range of nature-inspired playground equipment. Give us a call and we’ll help you use one or more of these 10 tips to create your natural playground.