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Natural Playspaces

It is of increasing concern that younger generations are less and less exposed to natural systems and variety, as playgrounds are made up of predefined and generic spaces which tend to limit use to one activity or age group.

Our aim is to provide strong connections with nature, and by doing so provide a range of experiences. Through the use of various spatial areas, experiences and materials, we hope to encourage children to take control of their play activities, to stimulate imagination and to conjure personal expressions from within themselves.

 

Botanical Traditions - Playspace Design

It is via play that children attain vital life skills. Therefore, one of the key cornerstones of childhood development is the opportunity for individuals to experience a diverse range of play opportunities and it is important that serious consideration is given to develop these spaces into environments which support learning.

The design of playspaces has a direct impact on the quality of the user’s experience and the degree to which the area is utilised.

In order to achieve maximum usage and quality, playspaces need to provide for a variety of different play experiences.

Children of different ages need different play opportunities. Babies and toddlers needs are very different to those of a 3-5 year old and children 6-9 have different needs to those of teengagers.

Younger children need appropriated spaces for their development stage to enable some or all of the following:

* challenging activities such as balancing, climbing high, tunneling, jumping, swinging from arms and by legs;
* sensory play opportunities that include sand, mud, water, pebbles, stones, etc
* hiding away, making cubbies and campsites, having picnics;
* meandering up a shady path, stopping off to explore objects or areas;
* sitting with a friend to talk;
* meeting as a group to sing songs, listen to stories, play games etc;
* imaginative play environments with props;
* pretend work area - laying drains, washing clothes or building tunnels etc, as well as real work such as gardening, sweeping and raking; and,
* running, ball games, chasing bubbles, pushing and pulling, rolling and spinning and riding wheel toys.
* Areas where they can be away from other children and sit and talk to adults - parents, teachers or other.

In many areas playgrounds do not cater for kids over the age of 12. This is a real problem as boredom often results in antisocial behaviour and wondering the streets aimlessly looking for things to do.  If there is decent free open access places for teenagers to socialise, then the behavior of teenagers would improve.  Teenagers want both physical activity and a place to show off and hang out.  Tough fitness equipment is good as is a multiuse games area.  Care needs to be taken to not create an area which only caters to young men or boys.  Areas should also be included where young people can meet and chat while watching their friends. 

Often there are only kiddies playgrounds in an area. When teenagers go on the swings, parents of the kiddies complain.

It is a good idea not to locate teenage equipment over the top of younger children or where younger children can be knocked over. However, some age groups may want to play in both areas so having them close enough to easily walk between is beneficial.