Playgrounds, merry-go-rounds and spinning ideas

I love a good playground. My kids enjoy the challenge of these old and new spaces, discovering new worlds, interacting in often unpredictable ways with their environment. Sometimes I join in too. Like last week when I stood on something which spun quickly beneath me and I slid right out, integrity almost remaining intact.

hands on the flying fox play equipment

(one of my boys about to launch on a flying fox)

This year I’ve been learning a little bit more about the workings of the humble playground, while raising funds for new kindergarten play equipment. The hard part is raising funds. The fun part is finding the best way to spend it!

The “playground experts” I have spoken with so far have fascinated me with their insights into children’s play, promotion of risk taking and the vital importance of exploratory learning.

There’s even an International Play Association. Have a read of their declaration.

PLAY is communication and expression, combining thought and action; it gives satisfaction and a feeling of achievement.

PLAY is instinctive, voluntary, and spontaneous.

PLAY is a means of learning to live, not a mere passing of time.

Another thing I learned, listening to an ABC interview with Playground Designer Ric McConaghy was the importance of parents’ involvement in their children’s playground experiences. Yes, it’s nice to sit back on the park bench and let my little guys run off some steam. But I’m trying to join in a little more, quietly observing, proactively engaging, and very careful not to get involved in sibling swing-time entitlement disputes!

I also wonder, how much more we should be learning from playground designers in our approach to other forms of design. I’ve been reminded of the link between physical and virtual landscapes. And the trend towards playgrounds that are less artificial, more engaging and most importantly, designed to promote imagination is inspiring, in all kinds of ways.


Do playgrounds make your head spin? What’s your favourite thing about playgrounds?

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