Re: Kids play area & structure
From: Lynn Nadeau (welcomeolympus.net)
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2001 13:34:27 -0700 (MST)
I was a preschool teacher for 8 years, and have given some input to our 
CH landscape committee for things to include in the patio area near our 
kid room. (This in addition to planning a full-scale swingset in the 
commons field on the other side of the CH.) 

We have some people who want to minimize the "preschool" look of the 
patio, but I pointed out that there are ways to have kid-friendly 
features that overlap with non-kid uses. 

Some examples: bordering areas with curbs that invite balance-walking. Or 
a row (tight up together) of tree-stump posts of varying heights, with 
flat tops, that allow sitting, but also make an interesting kid walk. 
Benches. Hard surfaces that are good for riding trikes, pulling wagons. A 
small covered sandbox. A sculpture that invites sitting and climbing: a 
local grade school has a ten-foot long cougar that is often sat upon and 
against. A grassy berm that can be rolled down. (Or Charlie-Brown 
sledding in snowy climes?)

I'm hoping to also get approval for a tower-like wooden play structure, 
such as is often part of a larger set up, though we'll have to see what 
the required "fall zone" is, and if it can be placed where the 
gravel/chips/whatever of the fall zone can be contained reasonably. 

If you have a lot of kids, a WATER source is wonderful, for sand play and 
such. 

At a school where I worked, we had also an outdoor art area- basically a 
fence that had been arranged with clips to hold pieces of cardboard for 
painting. 

Other common playground items: half-buried tractor tire. Pipe or tube to 
speak into and be heard at the other end. Steering wheel affixed to a 
post. A platform that can be a "stage" or be jumped off, or provide a 
place to sit. Outdoor table (often climbed on, in fact).  

On preschool playgrounds, "adventure materials" for re-arranging are 
highly successful, such as dairy crates, tires (with holes drilled to 
avoid water pooling and stagnating), planks, sheets. However, such 
materials are only appropriate where there is enough supervision and 
rule-minding to keep such play safe (not stacking up tires with a kid 
inside, not climbing on high piles of dairy crates). No question that 
kids love it; each group needs to think how to ensure safety. 

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing

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