Playgrounds should be designed with safety in mind first and fun second. Many playgrounds are unsafe and expose children to unnecessary risks. A playground should be designed to suit the age of the child. A 2-year-old will not need the same type of playground as a 10-year-old.
The ground for the playground should be at least half a layer of soft sand. The sand allows water to seep through but is soft enough to cushion a child's fall. Many playgrounds use pebbles or asphalt, both of which can cause injury to a falling child. Sand is soft and yielding. Sand also keeps children from running too fast, which further avoids injury.
Many playgrounds have multiple activity sets: swings, monkey bars, see-saw, a slide and playhouse. These activities should be spread out far enough apart that children playing with one activity do not interfere with the others. For example, a swing set takes up a lot of space and many children like to jump off a swing set in mid-swing. If the child does this, she should not be anywhere near another activity.
Some structures, such as the top of a slide or clubhouse, are raised off the ground. The walls should be secure and strong and the foundation for the building securely rooted in the ground. If the foundation is not rooted underground, several kids horsing around on the top of a slide could cause it to tip over.
Steel or metal may seem like a good idea, but it can get incredibly hot on a sunny summer day. Use treated wood if possible. This type of wood lasts a long time and is strong and should not splinter. Slides made of plastic will reflect heat better than metal ones as well.
- "Ultimate Guide to Kids' Play Structures & Tree Houses;" Editors of Creative Homeowner; 2008
- Rules of the Playground: 7 Critical Steps for Planning a Playground Layout
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