Designer Profile: Joe Frost, The Contemporary Father of Play Advocacy

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As a child on a small farm in of southwestern Arkansas, during the last years of the Great Depression, Joe Frost played with his friends on an open field in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. He played war and chase, built dams in the stream behind his grade school, and piled on his classmates… Read more »

Sensory Playgrounds for Children with Autism Spectrum and Sensory Integration Disorders

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As applied to the book, the title of Jonathan Safran Foer’s second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, has absolutely nothing to do with playgrounds. But the locution has stuck with me as an illustration of what it means to be a child, where at times the world can be overwhelming and, frankly, a bit… Read more »

Designer Profile: Michelle Mathis, RLA, Learning Landscapes Design

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Eight years ago, on a five-day cycling tour of Berlin, Michelle Mathis stumbled upon her first bonafide adventure playground. What she saw caught her off guard: along several hundred linear feet of boardwalk, children unaccompanied by parents were using hammers, hand saws, and pieces of scrap wood to build forts, some as high as twenty… Read more »

The 6 Best Parks and Playgrounds for Seniors

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Jared Diamond, an American scientist known for popular science books, such as Guns, Germs, and Steel and The World Until Yesterday, gave an interesting 2013 TedTalk concerning the wide differences in how societies regard senior citizens. As he mentions in the talk, one way these differences are manifest is in filial patterns and living arrangements. For… Read more »

How to Make Sand Accessible at Playgrounds

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Accessibility is crucial for children who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices to enjoy playgrounds, and a big part of that relies on surfacing.  Ground surfaces along accessible routes and maneuvering spaces must comply with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F 1951- 99 standard. The standard measures the work an individual must… Read more »

Best Multigenerational Play and Fitness Equipment

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Across the country, more and more fitness equipment aimed at senior centers is coming on the market. From a health standpoint, it makes sense. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) notes that regular cardiovascular exercise can help seniors strengthen the heart and muscles, boost energy and endurance, and control blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Strength… Read more »

Best Small Playgrounds with Big Play

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Small playgrounds and playspaces need not consist of crowded assemblages of equipment. In fact, restraints imposed by site conditions are often where some of the most creative and cohesive designs find their origins. Because there is not always the available space or budget needed for ambitious projects on the scale of MonstroCity in St. Louis… Read more »

Designer Profile: Joseph Lee, Father of the Playground Movement

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“Do not be forever meddling, interfering, asking questions, showing them a better way. Give the constructive power of your children scope and elbow room – the temple that it builds is invisible to any eyes but theirs. If you blur and jostle their vision, it is lost.” —Joseph Lee, social activist, philanthropist, president of the… Read more »

Micro-Playgrounds: Six Tips for Designing for a Small Space

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If increasing urbanization and limited housing stock has led to a wave of micro-units, rooming houses, and residential hotels in spatially constrained cities such as New York and San Francisco, there is a corollary in the world of playgrounds. For lack of a better term: the micro-playground. These compact designs, which typically fit on footprints… Read more »

Designer Spotlight: Hitchcock Design Group

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One of my favorite places to go for a walk is the Spruce Plot at the Morton Arboretum, outside Chicago. There is a perceptible hush and temperature drop on entering the forest, as though you’ve been transported to another time and place. A grid of towering spruces crowds out the sky. Dim light filters through… Read more »

Intergenerational Playgrounds Unite the Young and Old

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China is believed to have led the way on the development of multigenerational playgrounds, adopting a national law that resulted in a nationwide physical fitness program geared for elderly citizens. The idea took hold quickly. After spreading across Asia and Europe (Spain has more than 600 models), playgrounds for seniors began popping up in the… Read more »

The Oldest Slide in the World? Maybe Not. Fun? Definitely.

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The origins of the first children’s slide is a subject of uncertainty. The BBC credits historians with the discovery of archival photos of a planked wooden structure by engineer Charles Wicksteed that resembles a widened stair-rail. Built in 1922 in Kettering, Northamptonshire, the slide is mounted by a nine-foot-tall ladder that leads to the top… Read more »