Saturday, April 19, 2014

Parks that are NOT Boring

This park is boring!”
We were at the local park in a flash. “Look how great this playground is,” I said with an air of naïveté. According to my adult mind it had everything a kid could want: swings, a slide, some monkey bars and pole or two. What’s not to love?  And look at the pretty colors too! Again, I marveled at my own brilliance and prepared to sit down in victory and read my book while the kids played. Then I heard, “This park is boring!”

 this wasn't...
...We pulled into the seventh park and at this point I was a broken man. But something was different about this one. My kids did something that they didn’t do at all the previous parks; they ran excitedly towards the playground. I caught a glimpse of the playground myself, and began running right behind them.
I was in awe. Here was a playground that didn’t follow the same formula that we had been trudging through all day. The entire playground was designed to look like we were in the Old West. There was a three-story barnyard, a general store and even a sprinkling of rocking horses to add to the theme. My kids were playing on the structures, but were also playing with their imaginations. They were wrangling cattle, protecting the barn from the Indian invasion (I know it’s not “PC”, but they’re kids), and I was inspired to jump right in along with them and play too.

We have equipm,ent like swings, and jungle jyms in playgrounds that help kids with certain physical skills . But there are other skills that kids could learn, if our playgrounds were equppped for them to learn other skills such as  creativity, art, music, language skills, cooperation, theater

Click here for a variety of solutions on these skills

Reading skills
Artistic skills

“Unwittingly, creative risk had been engineered out of play,” Mr. Rockwell said. Fixed equipment was set up once, designed against lawsuits and to require virtually no oversight by park employees.
His  young son and daughter instructed him in what mattered when it came to play:  “My kids were much more interested in what happens if you turn something upside down. They like the box the toy came in much more than they like the toy.”
From that came the idea of loose parts, and pop-up playgrounds that could be assembled quickly, at low cost. Kaboom, a nonprofit organization that helps build playgrounds, found in tests that “the kids played longer, harder, deeper with the loose parts,” Mr. Rockwell said.