Summer School: Playground Designs
The summer months often make up the favourite term of the academic year for teachers and pupils, thanks to the increased potential for learning and playing in the open air. The school playground is an important part of a school’s facilities at this time, and often an area that receives a great deal of attention from school fundraisers, eager to buy it some colourful and exciting kit. However, creating the perfect place to play takes more than just a cool kit. Here are Fastline Services top tips.
Think about the additional benefits of having a playground above the main one of providing somewhere fun for break-times. A well-designed play area will help keep children fit and healthy as they will have plenty of space to run around and lots of physical challenges to enjoy, such as climbing frames and adventure trails. Use the ground to add more challenging options too, by painting lines and patterns to create football pitches, netball courts, hopscotch grids and snakes and ladders boards. Make the lines durable, colourful and fun to entice the children to play.
Amidst all the fun must be an element of practicality. So, think carefully about how, where and when you are going to install your new playground. Choose a spot that is close to the school buildings and easily accessible to all your pupils and staff, including those who might have mobility difficulties. Keep it safe – add appropriate lighting, railings and barriers, but don’t make it too scary or prison-like with too many 6-foot mesh fences. Don’t forget to add railings and signage to indicate pathways and to divide the separate play zones within the main perimeters.
Children soak up knowledge at an amazing rate and can use any opportunity to learn more about the world. So, make sure you include lots of things to spark curiosity in your playground. Adventure trails or climbing towers help them to discover what their bodies can do while adding a sensory area with sand, water and musical instruments can help stimulate developing brains. Think about where you will position your equipment – if you put the tallest piece in the middle of the playground, children who climb to the top can look down across the whole area and decide where to play next. Paint intriguing shapes, numbers and pictures on the ground, so these same children can see them from above and use them to make up stories.
Managing risk is a skill that all children have to learn, despite our instincts to keep them wrapped up in cotton wool. A well-designed playground will help children explore risk in a safe environment. Equipment such as balance beams, monkey bars and climbing ropes will help them push their physical limits, but make sure you add specialist surfacing to help cushion any falls and install clearly visible warning lines and signage to stop children getting injured by inadvertently running into someone using the equipment.
Peace and quiet
Not every child relishes the rough and tumble of the school playground. Some will prefer to sit quietly with friends to enjoy a bit of peace. Providing areas where they can do that will be very much appreciated, so consider installing benches, dens or gazeboes where children can sit and chat. You could turn these areas into nature zones too by adding bird tables and feeders, or bug hotels. Add a box of books or toys for children to borrow and you might like to add some cushions and blankets to help them relax.