11. Who’s It For?
Make sure the playground equipments you’ll be having are age appropriate. The different age groups are 6 to 23 months, ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12. Kids develop differently as to size and ability so be sure to have the appropriate playgrounds for preschoolers and grade-schoolers. Have definite borders and corresponding signages to aid parents and kids in knowing the playground parameters.
12. Young Designers
What may seem fun to you may be a totally different case for kids. That is why referring to kids as experts when planning playground projects will more likely turn out to be successful. Get kids excited by making room for their involvement. Create groups sessions and ask students what they like. You can even hold a design contest. Once you figure out what is fun for them, you can start worrying about accessibility, safety, and more.
13. Make It Accessible Enough
Disability is a matter of perception.
Keep in mind the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Incorporating ADA compliant events and playground structures when designing and planning future playgrounds are important. The playground must be easy to go
to, whether from church, school or parking lot. Certain structures should be accessible to children bound in wheelchairs through ground level events, together with ramps and transfer stations.
The whole structure and playground equipments doesn’t necessarily mean it should be wheelchair accessible, but kids with and without disabilities should be able to play and interact in different ways. Put up signs to let the parents and kids know that children with disabilities are welcomed in the play area. Equip sandboxes with a wheel chair ramp for borders.
14. The More, The Merrier
Variety of play options makes the playground much more interesting. You don’t need to completely invest your budget on big playground structures. While most kids enjoy these type of playground equipment, some would opt for sandboxes, drawing boards or more experimental type of games. The more playing options you provide, the bigger chance of development.
Fixed equipments such as slides, swings, monkey rails and hanging bars should all be placed in the active area. It should include open spaces for running, cartwheels and informal ball games. Quiet areas should allow a child or a small group of kids to talk, read, interact with nature or simply observe other groups before joining. Providing areas like this also help children build up their confidence.
DON’T BUILD ALONE
15. Involve The Community
Ask help from others. Reaching out to more parents or the community in general for comments and advice may cut down some of the things to worry about. Maybe one or two of them runs a construction business and can offer help when it comes to equipment. A group of people might want to help out in creating a marketing campaign to boost involvement.
The PTO President of Oskaloosa Elementary School, Heidi Jannenga headed a campaign for their playground project. She received tremendous amount of help; a web developer provided a big discount on a website that included volunteer sign-up form, news, images and instructions for those who want to donate. Their local media also helped spread the word out. Radio announcers promoted the project on air while the newspaper provided $5,000 worth of ad space plus front page coverage. You’ll never know how much people are willing to give support until you make room for them to partake.
Not only are community-built playground projects popular, they can also save a hefty amount of money and create camaraderie among the community. Don’t forget, though, that doing so is a big organizational task and it’s still better to have an expert or at least someone who has experienced plenty of installations before.
KEEP IT SAFE
17. Get The Right Surface
Surfacing is important as it plays a big part in protecting children if they fall. Having proper safety surfacing beneath the playground is a must to avoid fatal injuries. The image above shows one of Playground Equipment’s affordable safety surfacing, the DuraDrain Fused Foam Drainage Tiles. These types of safety surfacing enhance permeability of surfacing arrangements made from wood fiber and add a solid layer of resilient cushioning.
18. Proper Fencing
“In Connecticut, a little boy wandered away from a playground that was near a pond. He fell into the pond and drowned. A jury awarded the parents millions since the pond was an “attractive nuisance” near the playground. Supervision was not the problem. Lack of proper fencing was.”
True story. Putting up an appropriate fencing will avoid vehicles to crash into the playground and for kids to run the risk of being run over, if ever they wander outside the playground. Although, whether you have an existing fence or not, the playground needs to be checked for compliance to the fencing Standard. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) creates safety standards for many industries including commercial and residential playgrounds, playground surfacing and playground fencing.
19. Better Safe Than Sorry
Choose only International Play Equipment Manufacturer’s Association or IPEMA-certified playground equipment to ensure the safety of the children. Remember, more than 200,000 kids had accidents on playgrounds yearly. Provide age appropriate play areas for preschoolers and kids aged 5 years and above, and a safety surface that matches the height of the play equipment. Build it right, Play it right! Be informed of more ways on how to keep a playground safe. The Consumer Product Safety Commision also provides a public playground safety checklist to help you assess the safety of your school, church, community or residential playground.
HAVE REGULAR MAINTENANCE
20. Give The Playground Some Love
Since work doesn’t stop once the playground is built, create and follow a regular maintenance routine. Making sure that children will be safe is as important as protecting your investment. To avoid accidents make sure loose fill are raked regularly, areas and equipments should be free of debris, roots and rocks. Inspect loose rails, cracks and other hazards. Contact companies which also offers long term warranties for specific products, like Playground Equipment.