Traditional playground or adventure Playground –which excites your children more?

The suggestion of a trip to a playground tends to be met with excitement but which sort is going to be best and most exciting for your kids – that leaves a scope for discussion.

The concept of traditional playgrounds originated in Germany to provide a space to teach children to play. A few were built connected to schools but the first public playground was created in Manchester in 1859. However, they only became widespread in the early 20th century as the street became the domain of the motor car and was no longer safe for children to play.

The first ever planned kids adventure playground was opened in Denmark in 1943 based upon the ideas of Carl Theodor Sørensen, a Danish landscape architect. Sørensen noticed that children seemed to prefer playing everywhere apart from the specially designed playgrounds! Early examples were often known as junk playgrounds from the Danish term ‘Skrammellegepladsen’. In the UK, Marjorie Allen, an English landscape architect and child welfare advocate was an important part of the introduction of the kids’ adventure playground model into the UK.

Playgrounds are recognised as formative in helping children develop the social skills that will enable them to be successful adults. They provide opportunities to practise things like sharing, taking turns and making new friends. There is a requirement for negotiation, imagination and collaboration with others but as part of fun and play.

The physical challenges have the benefit of improving cardiovascular health and increasing body strength. This is in addition to honing the gross motor skills and, depending on the playground, fine motor skills. They can help improve a child’s agility, hand to eye coordination and balance. Both conventional and adventure playgrounds provide these benefits but what are the advantages to these two options?

Conventional playgrounds

There is the opportunity for play in many areas of a child’s life but time at a playground offers a chance for spontaneous, creative play. Studies show playgrounds with colourful markings and supplementary equipment such as, goalposts and basketball hoops increase physical activity in children using the space. Equipment such as climbing frames with platforms allows kids to congregate and socialise more. Slides and swings help children learn how to take turns while tunnels or covered areas provide ample opportunities for pretend play.

Kids adventure playground

So, what exactly is an adventure playground? The chances are you probably have a pretty good idea as they are increasingly common. The general idea is to provide a safe way for play to happen using whatever can be found. It is a concept that incorporates a number of different themes. Often, more natural building products will be used or items can be recycled and used in a different way.

Rope ladders, wooden platforms and tyre swings are all common features. They tend not to have the traditional play structures such as slides, seesaws and swings. Often the boundaries incorporate the same natural products and may not be a traditional fence as seen around a conventional playground. In these areas, play which is discouraged in other areas, such as digging is allowed. Kids adventure playgrounds can even be found indoors and some are staffed by play workers who work hard to encourage the children to explore their environment.

The best kids adventure playground can be a really exciting space to explore and learn in. An opportunity to engage both the creative and imaginative sides, in a physical, challenging way. Play workers can add significant value by guiding an adventure whilst also allowing children to find their own way. There are some incredibly detailed, in-depth and creative adventure opportunities around, which can make for a wonderful playtime for children. With physical challenges such as crossing waterfalls and bridges, crawling through caves or tunnels combined with educational opportunities, there is fun for the whole family. An entirely new way to incorporate learning into play.

For most children, the offer of a trip to any playground is likely to be met with high levels of excitement. A change in routine and a different park can be like a whole new world. However, adventure playgrounds and the exciting opportunities for creativity they provide are hard to overlook and may create even greater levels of excitement in your children. Whichever one you head to, getting your kids out for a run around and some physical activity is always a great idea.

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