We have long understood that well-designed outdoor play areas are vital. The few hours children spend outdoors each week builds social and cognitive skills which help them to thrive. No matter the space available, our team knows how to create a place where children can grow.
Every type of playground feature needs to be designed right and built right. In our eyes, creating a unique playground that's bursting with opportunity includes the capability to do them all. That's why our playground range contains everything from Activity Frames through to educational numeracy & literacy play panels.
Playground ideas for schools to keep your play area engaging. We’ve listed the important features you need to have ticked off.
Did you know, that over the 7 years that a pupil will attend your school, they’ll spend around 1,200 hours in the playground? That’s a significant amount of time, so it’s no wonder that schools are looking for playground ideas to make their outdoor space more attractive.
Here we’ve pulled together some top recommendations to take your playground to the next level.
Zoning the playground ideas
Over the years we have found that dividing your playground into different zones is a very successful solution. This is normally achieved by having a main space for open free play with pockets off it focusing on different aspects, such as sensory, wildlife or growing zones. As well as providing children with a play rich environment, zoning also has the effect of keeping activities separate, for example, more physical play kept away from those that aren’t.
Zoning can also help you to manage the playground and supervise pupils better. You can keep older children away from younger ones, or place noisy activities away from quieter ones.
Add some playground surfacing
Installing a play surface is another to rejuvenate your playground. It instantly has a huge visual impact and creates a whole new range of play possibilities. It can also encourage children to be more active than on a tarmac surface. Cartwheels and handstands can result in painful scrapes on hard finishes! A soft play surface, such as Artificial Grass, can give children the confidence to be more active and extend their playing methods as a result
Another aspect is that play surfacing doesn’t mean the sacrifice of any space, unlike a piece of play equipment for example. The open space remains the same, just with added play value! This is particularly valuable for schools with limited outdoor areas.
Often play surfaces can be made even more engaging with activity or trackway graphics. Artificial Grass and Wetpour are perfect for this, or for a budget option, you can add playground markings to your existing tarmac (if it is in suitable condition).
Play surfacing is a great way to get more play value out of your existing space.
Places to sit and shelter
We always recommend providing somewhere to sit in the playground. Not every child wants to thrash around during breaktimes – at least not all the time – and often a spot to rest their legs is welcome. Sometimes a child needs a quiet space, somewhere to calm down, or can be feeling upset or lonely. They can head out into the playground with more confidence if they know they have a quiet area they can retreat to.
Timber benches are a playground staple. They can be installed in various shapes, and with adjacent planters, growing areas or sand pits. They enable groups of friends to sit together and provide a fun place to enjoy lunch.
Where possible, seating under a playground shelter is always best. Shelter is not only needed when the weather is poor, but also when it’s fine. Sunshine is great for our wellbeing and vitamin D levels, but overexposure to solar radiation can have negative impacts. The shade provided by shelter offers protection from the sun’s rays.
Outdoor Shelters come in many shapes and sizes – there is everything from large octagonal shelters with decked floors and built-in seating, to pergolas and sail shades. They are also an excellent facility to enable outdoor lessons, with larger shelters comfortably seating 30+ children. Our Rainbow Canopies, with coloured Perspex roofing, have been particularly popular.
Ideas for adding excitement
If possible, it’s always good to add a feature that children will remember and look forward to next time. A creative centre piece, such as a large Climbing Unit or Pyramid Net, is the perfect way to turn that excitement level up a notch. These items are great for encouraging physical activity, providing not only vital exercise and co-ordination skills, but also helping develop a whole range of qualities. Problem solving, risk taking, facing challenges, and becoming more resilient are examples.
However, excitement is not only achieved by a huge piece of play equipment! Letting off steam in an outdoor music zone, exploring a nature space or kick-off on the Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) are all things children love. We understand all spaces are different, and what works in one may not be feasible in another. We are able to work with your particular space and budget to ensure it has stand-out features that the children will always look forward to.
Don’t forget the green
Another important element a playground should offer is that connection with the outdoors and nature. Every playground should provide a sense of this and adding some greenery to your play space is an excellent way to achieve it. While some schools have space in abundance, others are not so fortunate and have to take a more creative approach. Here at Playcubed, our nature and sensory garden ranges offer a selection of products that can create the perfect play environment.
Planters, either planted with interesting species or in a grow-your-own style, are hugely popular as are mud kitchens, beastie hotels and sensory boards.
Bring your playground ideas to life
At Playcubed we have been creating school play spaces for over 40 years. We have successfully crafted thousands of playgrounds, which are used by a many, many energetic children every day. And we can create a play space (with all the above features) for your school too! Please get in touch today to kick-start your playground ideas into action.