What You Should Know About Playgrounds and COVID-19

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Note: Post updated July 6, 2020 As the nation begins to reopen, parents are understandably concerned about the risks to their children of contracting COVID-19 in parks and playgrounds. It’s a reasonable fear. We know that the coronavirus spreads when people cough, sneeze or just talk. Does this mean children should stay away from playgrounds?… Read more »

Water Play That Lets Kids Be Engineers

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There is a new thinking in water play design that has as much in common with the ubiquitous splash park as a neighborhood playground has with an adventure destination. We noted this trend several months ago in discussing the first season of the water play area at Knudsen Park in Holladay, Utah. The community there… Read more »

Outdoor Water Laboratories Gaining Ground

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When you think of a water playground, your mind might conjure images of a splash pad. Fountains spraying jets of water. Children running past open-mouthed animals or cartoon characters, laughing and shrieking as they get soaked. And, indeed, this is one version of water play—and not a bad way for kids to spend an afternoon…. Read more »

Restoration of a New Deal-Era Gem in Central Park: A Case Study of Toll Family Playground

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In the era of the New Deal, federally sponsored public works projects led to the creation of parkways, beaches, zoos, golf courses, and hundreds of playgrounds in New York City. At the center of this work was Robert Moses, chairmen of the New York Park Association’s Metropolitan Conference on Parks, who, in 1934, was appointed… Read more »

Playgrounds of Culture and Place

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Several weeks ago, we caught up with Angelica Rockquemore for a designer profile. Our conversation was illuminating and brought to light an emerging area of interest in the field: how parks and playspaces can serve to deepen cultural and environmental understanding and lay the foundation for the development of broader community health. We thought her… Read more »

The 7 Best Indoor Playgrounds to Beat the Winter Blues

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When the temperature drops to single digits and below, as it did here in Chicago last week, the bite of winter can be too severe for children to play outside. For parents, that can mean struggling with cabin fever and restless kids. Fortunately, indoor play spaces are becoming more and more prevalent, especially in urban… Read more »

Seven Best Waterfront Playgrounds

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For many of us, the allure of a waterfront begins in childhood. We remember gazing out at the waves and brightly colored boats, the piers and jetties that stretch into the water. We carry with us a sense of the infinite, made visible in the vast, unfathomable distances of the sea (or, say, the Great… Read more »

Designer Profile: Lynn Wolff of Copley Wolff Design Group

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Shortly before they co-founded Copley Wolff Design Group, Lynn Wolff asked John Copley to describe his childhood. They were both teaching at Boston Architecture College at the time, and had a standing Tuesday meeting to discuss their classes and projects. Ms. Wolff’s question wasn’t that unusual. The surprise came, mid-sentence, as Copley was talking about… Read more »

Teaching Children the Worth of Water

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They say one never knows the worth of water until the well runs dry. It was on the heels of the most severe drought in recorded history that my family and I recently moved from California to the Pacific Northwest. We’d taught the kids to treat water like gold. We’d kept our fruit trees alive… Read more »

Designer Spotlight – H Nyunny Kim of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

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“Who needs to escape the city when you can walk down the street or take the F train to Jay Street or the No. 22 to Clark Street or the B63 bus that goes right to Pier 6 at Atlantic Avenue — and see nature in the city.” That’s Anne Raver, art and design columnist for… Read more »

Why Sand and Water Play Are Good for Children

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Long before the iPad and Pokémon GO, there was sand and water. The two are foundational to the earth and offer near limitless possibilities for young children’s imaginations. During the summer months, I take my two-year-old son to Chicago’s Montrose Beach on the shore of Lake Michigan. After laying out a blanket, I let him dig… Read more »

The Many Benefits of Naturally Playful Playscapes

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Natural Elements that Include the Surrounding Area Set These Playscapes Apart     Play is a means by which we first form our understanding of the wider world. Most of our earliest interactions involve play and play-like behaviors. For example, peek-a-boo is an important milestone in cognitive development that demonstrates an emerging understanding of the concept of… Read more »