Designing Playground Structures for Preschoolers
A playground for toddlers ages 5 and under is different from building a playground for older kids. Children at this age are still exploring the world around them actively and have not developed the strength and motor skills of older kids, so a toddler playground needs to have equipment safe for this age group.
Preschool Playground Design Considerations
When designing a playground for toddlers, keep these design elements in mind:
Surface & Shade
Age-Appropriate Equipment and Activities
Early childhood outdoor playground equipment should be designed for children under age 5. It should engage their senses while also being inviting and safe. It should not rely on children climbing high or taking part in activities that are too complex or difficult for them. Preschool outdoor play equipment with animal themes, bright colors, nature themes and fun sounds can delight kids while also helping them learn.
Surfacing and Shade
Surfacing is important in playgrounds for toddlers because, at this age, kids can still lose their balance easily. Loose-fill, pour-in-place surfacing, and several other options are all worth considering for their safety benefits. Shade can also be an important design consideration, helping you protect toddlers from the dangers of extended sun exposure while they play and playground equipment that can become hot to the touch.
Falls and injuries to toddlers can be devastating, which is why it is important to choose early childhood playground products that meet or exceed safety standards in your area. Depending on where you live, look for playground equipment that meets safety standards and regulations created by well know organizations, such as the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM), U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).
Early childhood playgrounds need closer supervision because kids at this age have not learned all about safety yet. Site furnishings such as picnic tables and benches can encourage adults to supervise more closely by making it easier for them to sit nearby. When designing your playground, make sure each piece of equipment is easily visible from seating areas where caregivers are likely to sit, so adults can keep an eye on children at all times.
Toddlers develop at different paces and it is important for all children to feel included. When creating an inclusive playground, make sure each piece of preschool play equipment can be accessed by children with different mobility capabilities and learning levels. Include some activities at ground level and some higher up.
Resources for Pre-K Playground Design
Choosing outdoor playground equipment for preschool kids can be a challenge, and Playworld has created guides to help you. Our Inclusive Design Guide was written by childhood development and playground experts and covers inclusive playground design extensively, so you will understand how to make play fun for all children on your playground. Be sure to look at our Playground 101 Guide, too. It includes 10 practical steps to guide you through planning and implementing your play area and offers a step-by-step approach to playground design.
If you have questions or want to start creating your playground, you can also contact Playworld. Our friendly team of experts would be happy to help!
How Playgrounds Benefit Children
Playtime gives children the freedom to learn and grow in a controlled environment. Safe, exciting playgrounds also help kids develop motor, social and physical skills. They get to release their energy constructively and learn how to use movement as a form of self-expression.
Some of the significant benefits of play include:
- Social interactions: Young children often have some of their first social interactions outside of family on the playground. Playground equipment gives kids a resource for communicating and making friends.
- Physical activity: Staying active helps kids be physically healthy, build their muscles and learn how to use their bodies. They can release all their energy during the day and get better sleep at night.
- Motor skills: Sensory equipment helps kids develop motor skills through twisting, pushing and spinning with their hands.
- Literacy skills: Children improve their language skills by applying prior knowledge during play and relying on communication during early childhood development.
Advocating for play helps children grow up with healthy habits. Our playground equipment allows them to have fun while staying active.
How to Fund New Preschool Playground Equipment
Budgeting for preschool playground equipment may be a consideration. If it is, fundraising can help you get the money you need while also inspiring your whole community about the importance of a new playground. There are tons of ways to fundraise, from holding walk-a-thons to play-a-thons to auctions. We have put together some unique fundraising ideas to get the money flowing!
If you need more than just fundraising funds to build the toddler playground of your dreams, Playworld has financing options. Leasing lets you pay for your playground over time while building a quality play space now. Phasing lets you build and pay for your playground in stages. It may only take two or three stages to build the playground you have always wanted!
If at any point you have questions, contact our playground experts for assistance or design help.