NATURAL PLAYSCAPES, INCLUSIVE PLAY, DISCOVERY AND LEARNING LANDSCAPES
What is a natural playground? Simply stated, a natural playground or natural playscape,is an area where kids can play with natural elements such as sand, water, wood and living plants. Think about when you were a child. Did you have a favorite place to play in a natural environment? Chances are, you did, maybe in a nearby vacant lot, a field, wood lot, a park, or even your back yard. Today, many children simply lack the time to engage in this kind of play. Many families' calendars are filled with obligations; children spend most of their day in school, daycare, and organized after-school activities. Moreover, when children finally have some time to themselves they tend to flock to electronic games and television instead of going outside. Children lack the free, self-directed playtime needed to invent their own activities and games. Planned, adult-coordinated activities during and after school, as well as electronic games and television, limit a child's ability to engage in exploration and free expression. Research indicates that this ability, along with access to natural settings, is critical to children's development in every major way: intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically. Benefits of increased free play time and access to natural areas include improved concentration & impulse control, emotional coping & stress reduction, stimulation of creativity, reduced symptoms ADD and ADHD, and improved motor coordination. Luckily, an increasing number of schools, daycare facilities and municipal park departments are starting to understand the link between these benefits and built play environments.
Natural playgrounds look very different from conventional playgrounds. Most playgrounds we see today are comprised of pre-manufactured play equipment selected from catalogs, typically constructed of steel tubing and plastic elements and emphasizing active, or 'gross motor' play. In contrast, natural playgrounds focus on creating settings to enable the type of play most important to our youngest children: social play (pretending) and constructive play (building). Natural playgrounds encourage children to use their imaginations while simultaneously experiencing the smells, textures and wonders of the natural world. A natural play area is a learning landscape where kids learn through play. Natural playgrounds are typically very safe because they include few or no tall structures and no equipment with moving parts. Natural playgrounds can be relatively inexpensive to build by avoiding often costly catalogue structures.
In addition, a playground should provide access and enjoyment for children with a spectrum of abilities. Inclusive playscapes are areas where children of different ages and abilities can play together. Inclusive play goes beyond simple providing for ADA access and is focussed on a range of abilities and interaction between all children.
LandCurrent is a leading expert at creating natural playgrounds. As landscape architects we have a strong understanding of the natural environment, habitat restoration, spatial composition and technical landscape construction know-how. We combine this knowledge and these skills into artful play environments that stimulate children's natural curiosity. We design for early childhood education centers, preschools, K-12 schools, parks and residential settings. Our designers have been creating play environments for over two decades. We are up to date on the latest safety standards and guidelines through the NRPA National Playground Safety Inspector Certification Course and have a Certified Public Playground Inspector on staff.
LandCurrent designs playscape that are natural and inclusive. We listen to your needs, wishes and budget. We DO NOT sell any natural play elements or components and we never will because we want to have the liberty to select play components from any supplier so that we can choose what is right for you. Have a look at our portfolio to see how we design a truly unique play landscape for each client and each situation!
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