Our Continuing Education courses help you design dynamic play solutions that will unite your entire community. Access pre-recorded webinars through our learning management system or join our live Zoom sessions. Note: if you are interested in participating in our Inclusive Play Training Program, more information can be found here.

On-Demand Courses  Live Zoom Courses


All courses are free and approved through ASLA’s Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES) for LA CES 1.0 PDH accreditation*. Landscape architects and other professionals are welcome to use these courses to maintain their accreditation.

*To receive accreditation, you must pass the quiz at the end of each course.

Live Courses

Sign up for one of our upcoming live Continuing Education courses below.

The Schoolyard Playground—Inclusive, Active, and Fun - September 21st @1PM ET

By the time students complete elementary school, they will have spent as many as 1,300 hours on the school playground.  Children play differently on a schoolyard playground than they do on a community playground. As designers, we need to take this into account. This course will walk you through design decisions for creating a school playground that works for a wide range of child development needs. It will answer questions like "How do you keep fifth graders as interested as first graders?" and “How do you keep everyone engaged day after day?"

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Describe how play on a school playground occurs differently than a community playground

  • List five design strategies for an effective school playground

  • Explain how to incorporate loose parts into a playground design

  • Advocate for school recess

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On-Demand Courses

With unlimited access to on-demand courses, our learning management system allows you to learn on your own schedule, and at your own pace.

For first-time visitors, choose “Sign Up” to register. (Please note there is a multi-step process for registering.) For returning visitors, choose “Log In”, and enter your saved username/password. Select “View Course Descriptions” to browse our available courses.


How to Register for On-Demand Courses

10 Steps to an Autism-Friendly Playground

According to the CDC, about 1 in 44 children has autism. This number has been on the rise over the years, and it's estimated that over 3.5 million people in the United States now live with an autism spectrum disorder. 

This course explores autism and its implications for families going to a playground.  You'll learn what autism is and how it impacts those born with it. You'll also discover 10 specific playground strategies you can employ to help address the needs of children with autism in a design that works for neuro-typically developing kids, too.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Define autism and what it means for families going to playgrounds.

  • Explain how different playground equipment stimulates the sensory systems. 

  • Discuss how playground layout can impact a child's experience.

  • Utilize a 10-step checklist to ensure a playground is designed to support a child with an autism spectrum disorder.

Best Practices for Design and Specification of Fabric Shade

Never before have human beings been so sedentary, nor spent so much time indoors. One obstacle to being outdoors is sun exposure - healthy in small doses but dangerous in large ones.  This course offers shade creation techniques for designers, landscape architects, urban planners and park and recreation professionals.  Tensile fabric structures elevate the value of outdoor space to a high degree. They can be purely functional or wildly imaginative. The designer’s imagination is the key. This course discusses the value of tensile fabric structures and the variety of applications for this exciting form of architecture. The factors that make up tensile fabric structures are discussed, including framing, fabric, connections, and foundations. The process of bringing a fabric structure from idea to implementation is thoroughly discussed. And case studies are inserted throughout to show these innovative structures in action.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Discuss the protective benefits of outdoor shade for people, products, and places.

  • Describe factors for integrating fabric structures into the built environment.

  • Define considerations for the specification of fabric shade structures that are tested and rated for safety and longevity.

  • Identify the process for designing and implementing a quality shade structure."

Combatting Trauma with Playful Spaces

All children deserve to grow, play, and thrive in a safe environment. Unfortunately, the society within which we all live is filled with places, conditions, emotional stresses, and even pandemics like Covid 19, that attack our safe places. Children who have experienced trauma and toxic stress require sensitively designed play/recreational environments to minimize the impacts of the attacks from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Trauma-informed design is an emerging field focused on supporting the environmental and psychological needs of trauma victims and survivors. The presentation in this course will focus on the aspects of design that can help this demographic thrive despite the challenges they face.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Describe the breadth, nature, and impact of trauma on children in our current society.
  • Discuss trauma-informed principles for outdoor play/recreation space design that help combat and minimize negative impacts of trauma.
  • Show real world examples of design that supports physical, psychological, cognitive, and social development for children who have or are experiencing trauma.

Community Engagement: A Case Study

Kids Cove—a beloved community playground in Marquette, Michigan—showed clear signs of deterioration after two generations of service. A group of volunteers identified the need for a new inclusive playground, and the city agreed to support the initiative if the volunteers would lead the fundraising and planning. In less than 20 months, the group was able to hire a landscape architecture team, rally the community around the initiative, create a playground design with input from constituency groups, and raise over a million dollars for the project. How did they do it? In this course, Mara Kaplan will interview three community members to learn how a team of volunteers was able to accomplish what they did, how they used crowdfunding to finish their campaign, and how a strong partnership between a landscape architecture team and the volunteers was crucial to the success of the project.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Describe how an architecture team can help the community solicit input from different constituency groups.
  • Understand the pros and cons of undertaking a project in a small community with a 26% poverty rate.
  • Identify apps, programs, and ideas that can assist in getting the community involved in the project.

Creating A Unique Playground Using Hill Slides

More and more landscape architects are exploring using hills and mounds to create height on a playground, but it isn't always simple.  While there are many advantages to hills slides, there are many things to consider: the existing topography, the budget for bringing in fill, what slopes are required so that the slide works, and more.   In this webinar, learn when it is appropriate to use this technique, what questions to ask about your site, and how to select the right equipment.  We will also explore the play value of Hill Slides and what the impact is when designing an inclusive playground.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Discuss the pros and cons of hill slides.
  • Explain how to construct a mound.
  • Choose an appropriate slide.
  • Identify the best surfacing for hill slides.
  • Select equipment to create a full range of climbing challenge.

Creating Extraordinary Playgrounds

What does it take to create an extraordinary playground?  What strategies should you put into place so your new playground is visited by families from the neighborhood and from the next county over? In this course, we'll highlight a variety of built play spaces.  We'll see how playgrounds fit into bigger settings, how theming makes a statement, and how surfacing or even one or two pieces of unique equipment can make a playground extraordinary. We'll also discover why multi-generational and/or inclusive playgrounds draw families from far and wide.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Discuss how water play, height, and unique equipment can help create an extraordinary playground.
  • Identify small details that can turn an ordinary playground into an extraordinary one.
  • Explain how playgrounds that reach the widest audience can often be extraordinary ones.

Creating Intriguing Outdoor Playspaces

The design of outdoor space influences how children use their environments for play, exploration, and learning. Outdoor spaces and places that children have access to require examination from a variety of perspectives to determine what the space “says” to children. This previously recorded course is taught by a lead researcher on projects focused on examining strategies to advance children’s outdoor play through space design.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Identify space designs that support outdoor pedagogy and influence playground design.
  • Discuss why playground designs are examined from multiple lenses.
  • Summarize how environmental attributes such as surfacing, topography and paths and wayfinding contribute to triggering children’s ideas and decisions about how to play in the space.

Creating Outdoor Environments for Young Children

Magic happens on a well-designed early childhood playground, allowing for stimulating and challenging play experiences that meet children's ongoing developmental needs. The first five years of life are especially critical for brain development and forming the foundation for future learning and behavior. In this course, you'll embark on a journey of discovery—exploring the importance of gross motor, pretend, and social-emotional play. You'll learn how to look at playground equipment with a discerning eye and combine manufactured pieces with loose parts and nature play to create fun outdoor environments that support an atmosphere of learning.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Describe the importance of outdoor play for young children.
  • Summarize the benefits of adding loose parts and nature play to a playground.
  • Identify gross motor and pretend play opportunities on a playground.
  • Explain how playgrounds support social-emotional growth.

Designing a Nature Playground

Nature play has been a hot topic for many years. You've probably seen some wonderful natural play spaces and some that make you wonder how safe or maintainable they really are. Developing a connection to nature and even just being outside playing has tremendous benefits for children from lowered stress to increased attention span and greater awareness of nature stewardship. In this course, we'll examine the benefits of nature play and where to use nature in a playground. We'll focus on creating high-quality and inclusive play spaces that combine playground equipment and natural materials. We'll also look at some of the decisions that need to be made by the owner and design team and how those decisions affect the resulting space for overall fun, sense of place, maintenance, and liability. The course will conclude with a tour of a completed nature playground.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Identify three benefits of playing in nature.
  • Determine when to use playground equipment vs. natural elements in a play space. 
  • Explain why liability and maintenance are critical to the decisions made in natural playground design. 

Designing Inclusive Playspaces

Regardless of ability, kids should be able to experience the physical, emotional, and social benefits that come with developmentally- and age-appropriate play activities. This course provides an overview of inclusive playground design, the importance of the planning process, and how the design process needs to focus on the child before any playground equipment is selected.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Contrast the terms "accessible" and "inclusive" as they relate to playground design.

  •  Discuss the tradeoffs and consequences that individual design decisions have on the entire playground experience.

  • Explain why playground layout is the most significant factor in whether it will be a place where everyone plays.

  • Identify how playgrounds can move beyond essential compliance to create environments that work for everyone.

Designing Social and Engaging Playgrounds

Social and engaging elements are critical components of an inclusive playground. Some children are capable of playing with their peers without any prompting, but others need assistance with socialization because of a disability or situation. The design of a playground can play an important role in facilitating a social learning environment for everyone.  

In this workshop, you'll see why it's important to select and place equipment with the deliberate goal of engaging children with one another. We'll take you on a tour of an existing playground, discussing the different decisions that went into its design.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Define social play and why it's essential to plan for it
  • Explain how zoning a playground can help with socialization
  • Identify where different types of social play occur in a playground
  • Summarize the role of adults in social play

Explore Inclusive Playgrounds

This course will examine successful inclusive playgrounds around the USA—from New York to Nevada. We'll identify common design elements that help make these playgrounds inclusive. We'll also see how each community chose to make their playgrounds unique and fit the needs of their constituents with ground-based play, ramps, theming, unique climbers, and tons of sensory play.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • List different types of children who use an inclusive playground.

  • Define concepts like range of challenge, parallel play, and sensory play.

  • Identify the most important elements of an inclusive design.

Fundraising and the Landscape Architect

This course will enable you, a landscape architect, to provide ongoing advice and direction to customers undertaking the complex and time-consuming task of raising funds for their playground project. It will show you how successful charities and non-profits identify prospective donors, communicate effectively with those prospects, and sustain interest and engagement in their playground fundraising campaign over time.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Support their customer’s efforts to launch and sustain a successful fundraising campaign.

  • Help customers develop the resources they need to engage effectively with all levels of donors.

  • Play an ongoing role as a contributing member of their customer’s campaign team.

Increasing Play Value with Surfacing

Safety and accessibility surfacing is required in all public playgrounds. It's also true that surfacing consumes a significant portion of the playground budget. So, how do you get the most bang for your buck?  It is easy to increase the play value of the playground by creating designs, games, and undulations with the surfacing to help tell the story of your playground and provide important wayfinding details.  In this course, we'll explore how unitary surfacing can be used to make an otherwise ordinary playground the talk of the town.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Identify strategies to create more play value using surfacing.
  • Explain how surfacing can complement a wayfinding system and communicate about safety.
  • Summarize the pros and cons of detailed surfacing designs

Piaget and the Playground

The benefits of playing on a playground are well known.  Children get exercise, build up their core gross muscles, and practice balancing as well as other physical play skills. Kids also make friends and practice cooperative play and other social play. The playground is full of sensory play experiences from spinning, to touching to jumping to hearing to seeing.  What hasn’t been explored as much as physical, sensory, and social play, are Jean Piaget’s forms of cognitive play.  Just as it's critical to ensure a variety of physical play events, it's important to ensure that there are opportunities for functional play, constructive play, symbolic play, and games with rules.  In this course, we will explore the benefits of these types of play and how to implement them on the playground.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Identify Piaget’s forms of cognitive play.
  • Describe how playgrounds are the perfect place to practice functional play.
  • Summarize five ways to include symbolic play on the playground.

Power of Play

Play is an elusive concept to define, and it happens in ways that are often difficult to quantify. Yet, play has the power to bring people together, add richness to communities, and inspire the next generation. In this course, we’ll explore the science of play—its physical, cognitive, social, and emotional attributes. From climbing and sliding to swinging and spinning, we’ll see how specific types of play equipment support child development and add value to the communities they serve.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Define play from a physical, cognitive, social, and emotional perspective.
  • Summarize the child development benefits of specific play events.
  • Explain why play is a critical ingredient in the development of public spaces.

Instructor: Joe Palermo, PlayPower's Vice President, New Product Design

Swings in the 21st Century

Swings stimulate a child's sensory system and help with brain development, but they take up a lot of space in a playground design. Are they worth it? In this workshop, we will discuss the child development benefits of swinging. We'll also explore the many types of swings that are now available, looking at the advantages of each one.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Discuss how swinging stimulates the sensory system and assists brain development.
  • Summarize how children use gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and motor planning with swings.
  • Explain the social benefits of having swings on the playground
  • Identify the different types of swings available and the advantages of each type
  • Explore how a combination of swings can promote inclusion.

Urban Playground: Child-Friendly Planning and Design

What type of cities do we want our children to grow up in? Car-dominated, noisy, polluted and devoid of nature? Or walkable, welcoming, and green? As the climate crisis and urbanization escalate, cities urgently need to become more inclusive and sustainable. This session taught by Tim Gill, scholar, advocate and consultant on childhood, reveals how seeing cities through the eyes of children strengthens the case for planning and transportation policies that work for people of all ages, and for the planet. Gill will show how urban designers and city planners can incorporate child friendly insights and ideas into their masterplans, public spaces and streetscapes. Healthier children mean happier families, stronger communities, greener neighborhoods, and an economy focused on the long-term. Make cities better for everyone.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Explain why child-oriented urban planning is important.
  • Define elements of child-friendly urban planning.
  • Discuss what makes a public space playful.
  • Summarize a success story.

Youth Participation in Playground Design

Engaging youth in the playground design process can empower youth and create a more meaningful design. But, most of all, it’s fun! This course will review how engaging youth in playground design can benefit the project, youth, and community. We will present several strategies and activities for engaging kids of different ages in various phases of the design process.

Upon completing this course you'll be able to:

  • Explain how engaging youth in a playground design project can improve the project and help build human and social capital. 
  • Identify key strategies for planning a successful youth engagement process. 
  • Summarize appropriate youth engagement activities based on the design phase and the participants' ages.