Cool playgrounds - KaBOOM! News • page 2

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

December 20, 2011 Robert Rice

...All the parks are so boring!

In November KaBOOM! launched its first guest blogging contest, asking parents to muse about their experiences with play. We received lots of entries, and while it was tough, managed to narrow it down. Over the next ten weeks we will be publishing the top ten, and we hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did! Congratulations to all of our winners. In 8th place is Robert Rice…

It was an average afternoon at the Rice family household a few months ago. The weather was warm outside, and we were all just mulling about the house. “I’m bored,” came the first complaint from my youngest son. “There’s nothing to do,” his older brother agreed. Being the problem-solving father that I am, I gave them what I thought was the perfect solution and told them both: “Let’s go to a park!”

bored

I was pretty proud of my quick thinking, and was ready to bask in the loving accolades of my children when I was immediately slapped in the face with the response, “…but all the parks are so boring!” I would have none of this negativity and I told them to get their shoes on, we were going out to play. They groaned and grudgingly complied, but they remained persistent in their complaints:

“The parks are no fun”

“There’s nothing interesting about them”

“Every playground is the same”

Now I could have remained the firm paterfamilias, but I really want them to have fun and to be excited about getting outside to play. Let’s be honest, what child doesn’t love to play at the playground, right? So I offered my boys a deal, “I will take you to as many parks as it takes until we find one that is really fun.” I really should have thought my offer out a little more.

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!”

Centenniel-Park-Ontario-5


“Now wait a minute,” I said. “There are swings, a slide, and all types of things to play on.” I stood now pleading my case, but my two young Supreme Court justices were not buying my argument. “That doesn’t mean its fun,” my oldest said. “We want to go to another park”.

We visited five more parks, driving miles between them. My sons went out to inspect the park while I consulted the maps on my iPhone to find the next one. At each successive park I began noticing some reoccurring patterns. They all had the same playground pieces and seemed to follow the same generic formula. I found that I couldn’t disagree with my kids’ assertion that “The parks are no fun.”

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. 

Pikes-Peak-park-7

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.

Pikes-Peak-park-4

We stayed at the park playing for the rest of the afternoon. When we were leaving my younger son said, “I really wish all playgrounds were like that.” I asked him why and he replied with something profound: “Because it didn’t feel like a playground, it was just fun.”


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?


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?


A playground where kids can frolic amidst rusted machinery and throw rocks from a 225-foot-high smokestack? It sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen, but that never phased Bob Cassilly (pictured left), who described his vision of "Cementland" as a playground "where we can do things that are normally illegal.”

True to its name, Cementland is an abandoned cement factory in St. Louis that Cassilly was vigilantly working to transform into an unconventional playspace and tourist attraction. Tragically, it was while he was working there that he died at the hands of a bulldozer on Monday at age 61.

We pay tribute to Cassilly's vision and the guiding philosophy he seemed to carry with him throughout his eclectic career: "What a shame not to be 11."

These images capture the spirit of the not-yet-finished Cementland:

Photo by lolololori (cc). Top right photo by Bill Streeter (cc).
 

Photo by mulch.thief (cc).

 

    

Left photo by lolololori (cc). Right photo by velo_city (cc).

 

Photo by lolololori (cc).

 

Photo by lolololori (cc).

 

    

Photos by velo_city (cc).
 

Photo by pasa47 (cc).

 

Photo by pasa47 (cc).

Click here for a slideshow.


Whimsy. You'd be hard-pressed to find it on today's playground. Modern playground equipment is durable, yes, and safe (perhaps too safe) but fanciful and inspiring it is not.

That's why when we find photos of "cool playgrounds," we feel compelled to add an exclamation mark and share them with you. This playground in Hoenderloo, Netherlands' Landal Miggelenberg park, which would look more at home in the pages of a Dr. Seuss book than it does in the real world, just begs to be celebrated:

Photos by Patrick Ahles (cc). See more cool playgrounds.


April 19, 2011 Kerala Taylor

A playground made of... cardboard?

In the midst of all the flashing, talking, beeping, whirring gizmos that the toy industry has created to mesmerize children (and suck the money from their parents' wallets), the simplest objects can still captivate the imagination. Take cardboard disks, for example. They don't look particularly exciting. But cut some slots at the edges and suddenly the possibilities are endless.

Our friend Alex Gilliam at Public Workshop brings us these photos from a test run of this new "toy," which he created with the support of the National Building Museum, Cynthia Field, Cardboard Safari and Domaform. In the National Building Museum's Great Hall, kids and adults alike created elaborate cardboard playgrounds, romping, climbing, hiding, imagining, and collaborating, while honing their skills in design and construction.

Alex is planning on using his new toy to help communities actually explore how their vacant lots, public spaces and under-loved playgrounds might become a little more playful—having children and parents build temporary play spaces with the disks to imagine and build excitement around new possibilities.

Interested? Send him an email.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Alex Gilliam. See Alex's guest posts on our blog:


January 25, 2011 KaBOOM!

Cool playgrounds! All-natural play

Want a playground made of all-natural ingredients? Look no further than Auburn University's new nature playground, which boasts an eagle's nest, tree house, beaver lodge, mole tunnel, sandpit, teepee, boulders, and logs. Unlike bright plastic monkey bars and slides, these play elements are camoflauged  -- but children seem to have no problem finding them.

Jennifer Lolley, administrator of the Forest Ecology Preserve where the playground is located, says she hopes that it will become a "conduit" for families to explore the great outdoors. The playground represents an effort to combat "Nature Deficit Disorder" in an era where children ages 8 to 12 spend nearly 7.5 hours per day in front of a screen.

  

  
Photos courtesy of Auburn University.

Here, Jennifer Lolley describes how the playground was built and takes you on a quick tour:




December 20, 2010 KaBOOM!

Cool playgrounds! A forest adventure

We are huge fans of adventure playgrounds, which allow children to build, tinker, explore, and manipulate their own play environments. Though Europe boasts over a thousand adventure playgrounds, in the litigious United States, the number has slowly dwindled. But the city of Mercer Island, Wash. is bucking the trend.

It recently unveiled its new adventure playground with a twist -- it's in the middle of a forest. The city, a Playful City USA community for three years running, invites children to "come and dig in the dirt, build forts, play knights and dragons, or create whatever world you imagine."

Mercer Island Adventure Playground  Mercer Island Adventure Playground

Mercer Island Adventure Playground  Mercer Island Adventure Playground

Mercer Island Adventure Playground  Mercer Island Adventure Playground

Mercer Island Adventure Playground

Sadly, only a few months after opening, the Mercer Island Adventure Playground is already facing a budget crunch and needs to raise funds to stay open. As it is only one in four adventure playgrounds in the United States, we hope you will pitch in and spread the word! Here, Mercer Island kids talk about what the adventure playground means to them:


December 14, 2010 KaBOOM!

Cool playgrounds! A feast for the senses

Here's a playground that engages all your senses. Textured surfaces beckon curious hands, wind chimes jangle, vibrant colors gleam, and herb gardens invite children to hone their senses of smell and taste. 

The 1.5-acre Discovery Playground, which opened in May 2010 in Spokane Valley, Wash., was designed to be an inclusive and accessible space for people with a wide range of physical and developmental abilities. Playground elements reflect  the region’s geography, geology, and local plants, animals and fossils.

The Spokane Valley had a vision of a multi-use, community-centered park that would attract a wide array of people from the area. See for yourself:

  

  

Photos courtesy of DCI Engineers and Design Concepts CLA, Inc, which provided civil engineering and landscape design (respectively) for the site.

 See other cool playgrounds.