Play Today

  • We say, "It starts with a playground," but really "it" can start with any community project that unites a neighborhood and brings more joy and color to people's lives.

    At right is the central square of Santa Marta, a community in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Or at least, that's what Santa Marta used to look like — before a community-driven intervention that brought to life the vision of Dutch artist duo Haas & Hahn. After a crash course in housepainting basics, residents took a month to paint the buildings around the square.

    Here's what the square looks like now:

     

    Photo credit: Haas & Hahn for favelapainting.com.

    Learn more and see other painting projects.

  • Signs like this make us sad. Why should a perfectly good playground sit unused?

    If there's a playground in your community that's all locked up, download our Joint Use Toolkit to learn how you can open it to the public after hours and on weekends.

    Photo by Matt Hutter. See our original Tumblr post about this photo.

  • KaBOOM! staffer Emily Hummel came across this photo on reddit. We've talked before about the importance of challenging children by increasing risk opportunities on the playground, but this isn't exactly what we had in mind...

  • Wordless Wednesday: Homemade jungle gym

    March 14, 2012 Kerala Taylor

    Would you let your children build this? We stumbled across this amazing photo on the blog, Mama's Minutia. Says Jennifer Jo, the author and mother of the children pictured:

    "There is a shift that takes place when your kids gain the skills to construct monumental forts that reach truly frightening heights. I’m not exactly sure what to do with their newfound ability to threaten their physical well-being."

    For more photos and the wonderful story behind this homemade jungle gym, including its eventual demise, read the full post, "rise and fall."

  • We love Imagination Playground. Whether in a cart or in a box, we love how Imagination Playground helps children enjoy self-directed, unstructured, and creative play.

    You can imagine how delighted we were to receive a large pile of pictures from a recent Imagination Playground unveiling at York Academy in Playful City USA community of York, Pennsylvania.

    Look at the photos below and you’ll see the limitless possibilities of Imagination Playground and just how much fun playing with it can be! All photos taken by Seth Nenstiel.

     
    Imagination Playground in York, PA
  • These highly imaginative and exciting play structures from Copenhagen, Denmark are the work of a playground design group called MONSTRUM. A group of artists and theatrical set-designers, MONSTRUM focuses on visual design, motor challenges, safety, and they believe that, "playground design should be a reflection of the world surrounding us."

    I certaintly hope there aren't giant spiders rampaging across the streets of Copenhagen, but if there are, I'm glad to see they've inspired these incredibly imaginative play structures.

    Wordless Wednesday - Unique playscapes from Copenhagen

    There are many more interesting designs and pictures of the playgrounds above on the MONSTRUM website. What's the most interesting play structure you have seen? Have you added it to the Map of Play yet?

  • What qualifies as a "good" piece of playground equipment? Of course, there is no silver bullet—which is why playgrounds consist of many different kinds of equipment—but in our view, a piece of playground equipment should accomplish at least ONE of the following:

    • Challenge kids physically
    • Stimulate kids creatively
    • Encourage cooperation and/or competition
    • Be FUN!

    We're afraid that this piece of playground equipment in Shepreth, UK fails on all fronts:

    Photo by clare_and_ben (cc).

  • As adults, we usually walk to get somewhere. Even if we're just out for a stroll, we are more likely to be thinking about the week's grocery list than we are to be wondering what might be under that rock over there.

    Kids, on the other hand, aren't huge fans of walking. They prefer to meander, scurry, climb, discover, and explore. In short, to play. That's why we love this project, "Understanding the Child-Scale in the City," which explores what a walk through town looks like from a child's point of view. As the project collaborators point out:

    “….Play is a function of the imagination. Environments which disturb or reduce the role of imagination and make the child more passive, more the recipient of someone else’s imagination, may look nice, may be clean, may be safe, maybe healthy, but just cannot satisfy the central necessities for play. Children are happiest when they can move things around – a delightfully messy occupation in which chaos is delightful and order is self-inscribed."

    Here's a delightful depiction of how a child makes a city her playground:

    Image from a-small-lab.com. See more images here.

  • When school playgrounds are rusted, ill-maintained, or otherwise rundown, we send the message to our children that play is not important. Randy took this photo (cc) "at the playground at my old elementary school." He says, "Probably the same... hoop, too."

    Could you imagine playing here?

     

     

    Join us to defend our children’s right to play by signing our Back-to-School Pledge!

    When you sign, we'll get you started with a PDF copy of How to Save Play at Your School—featuring 15 action ideas that parents and teachers can take this fall.

     

  • As kids soak in the last weeks of summer, they know they only have so much time to swim, splash, and scurry through sprinklers before cooler temperatures prevail. And while most kids can while away a summer afternoon with nothing more than a backyard hose, we wondered: What could water play look like if children were limited only by the powers of their own imagination?

    When elementary school teacher Beth Libby asked her students at Wentworth Intermediate School in Scarborough, Maine to draw their dream playgrounds, water featured prominently into their designs. What they came up with makes even the most hair-raising Six Flags waterslides rides look tame:

     

        
    Jordan (left) envisions swinging from suspended lollipops and being blasted by "super water cannons," while David (right) delights in the notion of being catapulted into water.

     

        
    What's more fun than a slide that cuts across a pool full of sharks? Gwen can answer that: A slide that cuts across a pool full of sharks and ejects you onto a trampoline! Meanwhile, Matthew (right) has visions of an underwater slide, with views of slightly less menacing sea creatures.

     

        
    Emily (left) and Hailea (right) seem to agree that nothing could be more fun than long, long twisty slides that end in a pool of water .