Whether still or moving, water is one of the most magical elements in any design. With careful thought and planning, it can be a safe place to play and learn, as well as enriching the area.
Plants are often non-existent or kept to a minimum in educational settings, yet they can make a place feel so different – nurturing, green, elemental. Planting ideally needs to be robust and also useful in children’s play rather than precious and untouchable. Sensory plants with leaves, berries and flowers that are good to pick, smell and use in play will benefit a child’s experience of that place.
Places to sit can be actual seats, low walls, steps or planters with wide edges. These can double up as places to balance, jump off and as resting places for other equipment such as pipes to roll balls down. Parents need places to sit while waiting for their children, and staff need places to sit and either observe children unobtrusively or be at the same level as a standing child for a conversation.
Changes in height
Height changes in a site can be accommodated and celebrated with ramps, steps and platforms, making access for all needs and abilities a really positive addition to the playground.
The constant presence of sand and earth outside enriches a space beyond measure. By being out and available at all times, all the children’s needs are there for them without the need for teachers to lift and store materials. This is especially useful when time is short.
Shade and Shelter
Shelters can be fantastic imaginary places to be, and offer space for a bit of more formal learning as well as socialising. Other, more secret places for children to be out of the view of adults are - as long as the children can still be heard – incredibly important places to include in any setting. Children will actively seek these out to either be with friends or to escape and be alone.
Using different products always adds an interesting dimension, both to walk on and to look at. Games and challenges can be invented around using the different patterns and textures.