Having a space for children to play that is purposely designed around them can be extremely transformative for any school environment. The places children enjoy playing in come in many shapes and forms, so there are many important playground design considerations you need to make. Our team at Designs & Lines are here for you and have listed the top 11 considerations you need to make to ensure your school playground design can be enjoyed by everyone.

1. Design for the Different Types of Play

All children play differently. Some really enjoy active play and competitions or games with other children, while others thrive off imaginative play. The type of play a child enjoys will vary from individual to individual. A good playground design takes this into consideration and caters to all different types of play. As you consider designing your playground to provide for all types of play, consider the ways children use their bodies and interact with each other and their surroundings.

– Active play: this includes children who enjoy climbing, running, jumping, swinging, hopping, rolling around, and spinning. Break time in the playground often provides these children with a space in which to let their excess energy out so they can better concentrate in the classroom. Catering to active play in your playground design is very important.

– Sensory play: many children learn through touch and sensory play, such as sandpits or grassy areas, allow for children to touch a variety of different textures.

– Imaginative play: every school has a bunch of children who prefer imaginative play above all other types of playtime activity. These children often enjoy dressing up, creating games in their heads, playing dolls, pretend pirate ships, treasure hunts, adventures, and more! Playground markings that provide them with the opportunity to develop their imaginations is incredibly important.

– Social play: this includes interaction with other children through rule-following games such as sports and interactive playground games.

Of course, there are a variety of ways children enjoy play, the above are just some of the most common. You can use the types of play listed above to design your playground around the needs and enjoyments of the students in your school.

2. Your Playground Must be Versatile

As adults, it’s easy to look at a playground and assume the obvious: swings are for swinging on, monkey bars are for traversing, and slides are for sliding down. However, we can easily forget that children are endlessly creative and they will always find new ways to use their playground space. So, when designing your playground, consider how versatile the space is and whether there is enough room for children to run around and create games of their own.

3. Create Playground Zones

To cater to the different play interests of each child, it is a good idea to create different playground zones. Design your playground to be broken up into sections with separate activities. For instance, one corner could be full of colourful markings and pictures for creative play, another could have sport court markings for active play, another could have number markings for math games and lessons, and another could have road markings or other games that helps children learn life skills. There are so many options, all you have to do is get creative!

Separating your playground into different zones can be a great way to create spaces appropriate to the needs and enjoyments of each child. Create plenty of room for children to run around, play games, and enjoy their playground fully.

4. Add Little Secrets and Surprises

Playgrounds can easily become familiar spaces for children and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can be fun to add in a few little secrets and surprises. Throughout your design, add painted pictures in corners and small nooks that children will discover as they spend time in the playground exploring different areas.

5. Create Your Playground Around a Theme

Themed playground designs are extremely popular in nurseries and schools around the UK. A themed design is fantastic for creating a sense of place for children. It speaks to the location and culture of that community, incorporating all the things most important to them. So, if your school is colourful and creative, perhaps consider designing a playground that is full of vibrant colours and eye-popping designs that help capture the imaginations of the children.

6. Consider Movement and Usability

Playgrounds need to have a good ‘flow’ to ensure children can run around safely and use the playground equipment, play sports, or make up their own games without all crashing into one another. Of course, we understand that there’s only so much available space. However, even with small spaces there are ways you can improve the ‘flow’ of your playground.

For example, you could have paths leading from the entrance of the playground, around the rope bridge, to the playground marking games, and onto the sport courts. A simple pathway around the playground gives children a general direction to follow so they can explore the playground safely.

7. Work with Nature, Not Against It

The best playgrounds are where the equipment and playground markings work together with nature. You don’t need to uproot trees of remove boulders, they can all be incorporated into your playground design. Trees are perfect for climbing or lining the boundary of a playground, rocks make great stepping stones, and you can even put shells into your sandpit!

If your playground is surrounded by trees, try to incorporate the trees, shrubs, and flowers into your playground design as much as possible. Children will love to explore the gardens, flowers, stumps and logs as they play in the available space and nature is also ideal for teaching children about their surroundings.

8. Create a Quiet Area

As we’ve already discussed the different play preferences of children, it is important to cater to the quieter students in your school by designing a quiet area. Spaces designed specifically for quieter children are areas that help students feel safe and cared for, provide spaces for quiet talk or alone time, and also encourage students to have a break if the day has become too much for them. Having a quiet area in the playground is enjoyable for many students and is definitely something you should consider adding in to your playground design.

9. Design for Discovery

Children love to discover new things, so designing around discovery is extremely important when creating the ultimate playground for your students. You could even divide your playground up and separate a section off from the rest of the playground that children have to pass through a secret gateway to enter. Designing for discovery is a great way to feed the imaginations of children and makes their time in the playground a fun, creative, and enjoyable time.

10. Make Everything Easily Accessible

Whether you’re designing a playground for children with disabilities or you’re keen to make your playground more accessible, consider making your playground an inviting place. Accessibility is extremely important in playgrounds as it means children can easily play on the equipment, whatever their ability, and move around the playground without any issues or need for support from an adult. To increase accessibility, keep your playground fairly near the school building and provide adequate pathways so children can easily get to the playground.

11. Let Children Design Their Own Playground

The best people to design school playgrounds are the children who play in them. Get your school to join in on the Designs & Lines Playground Design Competition. Hundreds of schools around the UK are participating and we are thrilled to provide students with the opportunity to design their ultimate playground. From pirate ships and fairy adventures, to secret mazes, sport courts, and roads, there are so many possibilities!
If your school is chosen as the winner, you could:

– You could WIN a unique playground game designed by one of your pupils (estimated value £5,000)
– It offers a chance for pupils to be engaged in something which will benefit your school.
– Gain excellent publicity for your school.
– Get 10% off at Designs & Lines just for participating in the competition.
– It’s a fun way to encourage creativity among your students!

Take the pressure off designing your school playground and encourage your students to design the ultimate playground for themselves. Children’s imaginations are amazing, so we’re sure they’ll come up with some amazing creations!