August 14, 2012 Kerala Taylor

The 5 C's of a great playground

Our Summer Playground Challenge just drew to a close, during which over 60 parents explored local playgrounds with their kids, adding over 4,000 new photos to our Map of Play! We asked our newly minted play experts what it is that distinguishes a good playground from a great one.

From their many thoughtful responses, we’ve culled the 5 C’s of a great playground:

1. Creative

Many post-and-platform playgrounds offer the same play options over and over again. A great playground offers something new.

“I like playgrounds that offer interesting options to play on. Clambering up huge tires versus a wall or having a four person teeter-totter as opposed to two changes things up a little.” – Fezeka Saige

2. Comfortable

A great playground offers simple amenities that keep parents and kids playing longer.

“Shade and water fountains are a must! Children usually want to play during the afternoon but with the sun many times it’s not possible. Clean water fountains are also extremely important since kids finish exhausted after so much play.” – Alicia Vazquez

3. Communal

A great playground isn’t just for kids. It’s a gathering space for an entire community, from tots to teens to grandparents.

“I look for a sense of community in a playground. I also like seeing people of all ages... from older people practicing tai chi or playing chess and answering questions from my kids, to the teenagers, to the parents of kids like myself.” – Alex Nguyen

4. Conspicuous

A playground that’s hard to find risks being underutilized. A visible playground teeming with children inspires passersby to stop and play! 

I think [playgrounds] are best when people can see that they are there and that people are playing there. – Dana Wheatley

5. Connected

We know that play is not limited to the playground! A great playground is connected to other play opportunities, particularly green space or other natural elements. 

“My favorites have always been those with lots of trees… and trails for riding bikes. Bonus: if the playground has great view!! We have some here on top of the hill or on higher parts of the city, and it's such a pleasure to be at those playgrounds.”  - Annie

Photos from to bottom: Angelika Paul, KT, torbakhopper (cc), Sasha Yetter.

parent perspective, parents, community, list, creativity, playground challenge