Supporting special needs
Imagination Playground™ has been used as a means to support therapeutic programming for children and teens on the autism spectrum. Arizona Autism Charter Schools, Inc., a school dedicated to making high quality, specialized education accessible to students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related disorders, uses the loose parts system to enhance therapy sessions, gym time and recess time. Imagination Playground™ helps kids regulate movement, compose sensory systems, and strengthen muscles. Imagination Playground™ also helps students nurture their creativity, providing a natural venue for communication and collaboration.
The Imagination Playground™ equipment has truly revitalized our P.E. and physical therapy programs. The children are so excited and engaged to play with the big, bold equipment! They are working on gross motor and social skills through play and are excited and motivated throughout the entire therapy period. Children with autism at every level have made amazing discoveries and have been learning new skills while having tons of fun! We can't thank you enough for the learning and play opportunities the Imagination Playground™ equipment has brought to our schools and the children we serve!— Diana Diaz-Harrison, Founder/Executive Director, Arizona Autism Charter Schools, Inc., Phoenix, AZ
A citywide celebration of play
PlayBuild NOLA is a non-profit with a mission to transform under-utilized urban spaces into exciting kid-friendly environments for play and learning. They host "pop-up play" activities featuring Imagination Playground™ at sites throughout the city to increase access to and the visibility of play.
The Imagination Playground™ helps our kids engage with the concepts that we are teaching in a fun and hands-on way. One popular activity we do focuses on the design of the New Orleans shotgun house – a long, narrow house where rooms are laid out end-to-end. After taking our kids on a shotgun walking tour of the neighborhood, we encourage them to draw their designs and then build them with small scale building toys. The culmination of the lesson is to build the house as a group using the Imagination Playground™. This activity takes the concept they have learned and brings it to life on a large scale while fostering communication and collaboration among the kids.— Angela Kyle, PlayBuild NOLA
Combating toxic stress
For kids that have experienced trauma at an early age or are growing up in environments replete with toxic stress and in neighborhoods where green space and safe, outdoor play opportunities are lacking, play that supports physical, emotional and cognitive development is vital. That's why KIPP DC Connect Academy quickly made the Imagination Playground™ a standard part of the in-classroom experience.
After a few short months, the long-term benefits of the Imagination Playground™ became evident. Among the benefits, students are developing inter- and intrapersonal skills, learning to empathize with others and supporting one another through play. Behavioral challenges are also being addressed through play.
When they can create or move their play from a scenario where they're creating a living room and then turning it into a grocery store, their play gets deeper. It allows them to sustain play longer, and to really engage in new learnings like problem-solving. That wouldn't happen if they were just simply running and playing tag.— Donny Tiengtum, Principal, KIPP DC Connect Academy
Aiding in disaster relief
In August 2016, Greenbrier Elementary School in Baton Rouge was severely damaged by flood waters. Due to the extent of the damage, the school had to be closed for the rest of the year. All of their play equipment was lost in the flood, and the kids there had to attend another overcrowded school that didn't have a playground. Many of the kids' homes were flooded too, and they lost everything they had. Imagination Playground™ provided a critical piece to healing—the ability to play. The creative play system gives communities with no other options a way for kids to stay active and gives the kids a safe haven from toxic stress. It's helping those kids reduce anxiety and build resiliency while their lives return to normal.
The middle school did not have any age appropriate or size appropriate play materials/equipment. The Imagination Playground™ was perfect for our flooded school forced to relocate to a middle school. Students affected by the flood were able to escape into imagination and play and forget about the stress.— Pat Friedrich, District Grant Writer, Greenbrier Elementary
Observation, documentation, and reflection
In school settings, Play Associates have the opportunity to work with a set grouping of children. As such, Observation, documentation and reflection are key activities. Here, the teachers learn from each other how to best encourage the children to play with the forms and explore the product's capabilities on their own volition. Learn more about United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education.
We saw this experience as a good opportunity to practice and develop children's gross motor skills and balance. We will explore these materials every week to see how they choose to use the blocks in different ways, using their creativity and imagination.— Paula Moujalli, Principal
Professional development with loose parts
As part of the Pittsburgh AEYC advocacy efforts to reinstate play in the lives of children, the P.L.A.Y. Academy endorses the use of open-ended materials and experiences that empower creativity and inventiveness. Spurred by the donation of the Imagination Playground™ from The Grable Foundation, PAEYC initiated the practice of providing the Imagination Playground™ and Play Associate Training to its play cohorts of teachers for one-month periods of time. PAEYC has since expanded its outreach to loans to the Children's Museum, the Carnegie Library and Museum and other community events.
...When children are given the time to create with quality equipment like these bigger-than-life blocks, they experience the power to think deeply. In the imagination of one little boy, play enabled an initial understanding of a tragic event, and even offered a way to soothe pain.— Kenda Hammer, Director, Family Literacy Center, Fox Chapel Area School District
Traveling play spaces
Children's museums have gravitated towards Imagination Playground™, often building full exhibits around the equipment. They report that it is a wonderful way to promote inter-age play, as well as provide programming that increases active play. Many museums also use Imagination Playground™ as an outreach tool, featuring it at the center of their public, family-facing events. While the National Children's Museum's permanent site was under construction, the staff was able to use Imagination Playground™ as the centerpiece to its Launch Zone and Museum Without Walls program. In both settings, Imagination Playground™ was used to create a block-building and construction zone providing children with the opportunity to engage in free play.
When we have arts and crafts activities, the kids usually leave after they're done with their project, but with Imagination Playground™, they stay for hours!— Jenny Hsieh, Museum Without Walls Team Leader