We Speak Playground

6 Considerations for Designing a Playground

Posted by May Recreation Content Team on March 7, 2023

Playgrounds should help children understand the world around them and master skills they need to succeed in life. Many playgrounds only focus on physical play, but they should also create opportunities for other types of play.

When designing a playground, it’s important to think about how it will allow children to use their minds and bodies to interact with others and the environment. 

The following six considerations will help you accomplish this goal.

1. Flow

Distractions can break our concentration, making it difficult to return to our task with the same focus. Children experience the problem during play when some other stimulus breaks into their fantasy world, making flow a critical element of playground design.

They should be able to easily move between stages in their play, so they can remain engaged throughout this process. The key to avoiding ever present distractions in a playground is to design seamless structures that still provide a dynamic sense of play, allowing children to remain in their fantasies for a longer period of time.

2. Loose Parts

Modern playgrounds often overlook the concept of loose parts, which is an item that children can pick up or otherwise manipulate. They allow children to play with them on their own terms, unlike fixed structures that are designed for specific purposes such as climbing, hiding and sliding.

A sandbox is a common example of a loose part because it provides a medium for children to build with. It also allows them to exercise their bodies and minds, whether they actually build structures with them or just move toys through the sand.

3. Entertainment

Modern playgrounds often prioritize efficiency and safety at the expense of fun and excitement. Playground design involves striking the right balance between risk and reward, rather than making everything as safe as possible.

Unpredictability is an essential element in keeping children engaged in the playground. Simple structures aren’t necessarily boring for children, and can command their attention more effectively than complex objects.

Include basic structures in your playground that spark children’s imagination, which will also exercise their minds and muscles.

4. Memorable Structures

The playground you used as a child most likely had at least one structure that you still remember, typically an animal or person. Minimalist designs have become more common in today’s playgrounds, but it’s still important to use recognizable features that spark the imagination in another way.

In addition to providing a place for children to play, including a giant figure in a playground also provides a community with a distinctive appearance.

5. Clear Vision

Designing a playground requires a clear vision of your purpose. You need to decide which elements and other considerations will best achieve your reasons for building the playground. This consideration doesn’t mean that each structure in a playground must have a clearly defined purpose, like slides and swings.

Playground design still maintains a vision while including elements with many potential, or even undefined, uses. For example, short, round cement pillars could be used to climb on or hide behind.

6. Education

We often think of play as a separate activity from education, but children are always learning. Playgrounds help children develop motor skills and develop social behavior, but they also teach children about the world around them.

For example, including native plants in a playground helps children strengthen their relationship with the environment, which is increasingly important for today’s adults.

May Recreation is a playground equipment company based in Houston, Texas. Our primary purpose is to provide our clients with design concepts that are both fun and safe by using competitively-priced products. Contact us today or call 800.964.6301 for more information on our recreational services!

Topics: Playground Design & Planning outdoor learning Child Development

May Recreation Equipment & Design is a top supplier of playground equipment, shelters, playground safety surfacing, splash pads, site amenities, and related products in East Texas. Our goal is to work closely with you to ensure your project completes

  • On Time
  • On Budget
  • Beyond Your Expectations

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts