How to Create an Age Inclusive Playground
Kids of all ages love to play, and it’s even more fun when they can play together. Parents of siblings with age gaps know it’s not always easy to find activities all the kids can enjoy. Playgrounds and parks that offer age inclusive options can be the solution these families need. Many playgrounds are geared toward a specific age group, but playgrounds that provide activities for children of all ages are most beneficial to families — especially those that have kids in different age groups.
Read the full article or jump to a specific section:
- What Are Age Inclusive Playgrounds?
- Benefits of Playgrounds for All Ages
- How to Create an Age-Appropriate Playground
- Trust Age Inclusive Playground Equipment From Miracle® Recreation
What Are Age Inclusive Playgrounds?
As kids grow and develop, they play in different ways and have different abilities and limitations. For this reason, playground equipment is often designed with a specific age group in mind so it can keep kids interested and maximize safety.
Age inclusive playgrounds have equipment and features for all age groups of kids — whether in two separate but nearby play structures, or in one large structure that features a variety of options. These structures are designed to appeal to all abilities and development levels and may feature platforms and decks that are higher up in addition to a variety of climbing options and multiple slides at various heights. Safety for younger kids is built-in, and stairs and ramps are designed for the youngest kids.
Playground Equipment for Different Age Groups
Children of different age groups have different capabilities and require different types of playground equipment. For example, playground structures for older children can be too large for toddlers. However, the inverse is also true. Equipment designed for younger children is often too small for older kids and doesn’t target the same motor skills that they should be developing.
For toddlers up to age 4 or 5, playground equipment is designed with a greater degree of safety and some of the following elements:
- Lower decks and platforms
- Slides that have a lower height
- Smaller steps
- Sand or water features
- Built-in musical features
- Other elements that are scaled down for smaller kids
Playground equipment designed for kids age 5 and up may have more complex and scaled features, like the following:
- Decks, platforms and slides with taller heights
- Ropes and climbing features
- Sporting equipment like basketball hoops and fields for team sports
- Places to play pretend, like play storefronts and other imaginative elements
In an age inclusive playground, these elements are brought together to provide convenience. These types of playgrounds are great for public parks where families bring their children of varying ages, or for elementary schools that serve a wide variety of age groups in one place. Separate areas can be created on a single playground, or you can creatively combine elements for different ages into one large structure.
Benefits of Age Inclusive Playgrounds
When playgrounds cater to kids of all ages, they are more appealing and welcoming to everyone. There are several benefits of having an age inclusive playground:
- More families can use the playground: Age inclusive playgrounds appeal to a larger number of families, and these families can continue to come back as their kids grow. This potential for continued use increases the return on investment you may experience when building an inclusive playground.
- Families with siblings of different ages feel more welcome: In any family with multiple siblings in different age groups — especially if there are larger age gaps — it can be difficult to please everyone and find activities where all the kids feel included and entertained. When a playground has equipment and features that appeal to all ages, each of the kids in the family can find something to do.
- It’s more convenient for families: If families find themselves needing to visit multiple sites to please all the siblings in the household, an age inclusive playground can be a one-stop shop the whole family enjoys. It can also make it easier for parents and caregivers to keep an eye on all their kids at the same time. Instead of playing in different areas of a park, the kids can all enjoy a section of equipment together and move on when they are ready. This streamlined pattern allows families to supervise with greater ease and makes for an enjoyable park experience.
- It promotes sibling bonding: At a park that’s appropriate for all ages, kids are more likely to play together. Instead of having separate areas and equipment for different age groups, sibling groups with different ages can all be entertained at these types of playgrounds. As siblings play together, they have more time to bond. This can be great for developing healthy sibling relationships across age gaps.
- It promotes community building: When more families feel welcome and use a playground, it can encourage more community bonding. A playground that’s appealing to everyone can be a source of pride for the community. It creates a safe space for community engagement and promotes healthy outdoor exercise for families.
How to Build an Age Inclusive Playground
Whether you’re creating a playground project from the ground up or adding to an existing park area to make it more inclusive, you’ll want to keep all age groups in mind. There are many ways to create an age-appropriate playground, but three basic categories include:
- Separate play structures: One common way to remain inclusive is to create nearby, but separate, play areas for younger kids and older kids. This setup has the benefit of play areas that are safe and age appropriate for each age group, while being close enough for parents and caregivers to watch over multiple kids at the same time. It also allows you to choose playground equipment specifically targeted for each age group while keeping the overall area inclusive.
- Combined play structure: Another solution is to have one playground structure that caters to all ages. These structures generally should have lower decks and platforms and multiple options for slides, climbing elements and more. This playground allows you to select one larger configuration of equipment elements rather than two smaller configurations, which may help you save money and get the most out of your investment.
- Ground-based activities combined with structures: If you choose to have separate play structures or a combined structure, adding ground-based activities ensures the park appeals to multiple age groups. Swings and spinners are great examples of ground-based activities that can be added to any park or playground. These features appeal to all age groups, spark the imagination and are great for playing together no matter the age groups.
Whether a park has separate play structures, a combined structure or a mix of ground-based activities with structures, there are a variety of ways to build an inclusive playground. One easy way to add a unique touch to the investment is to stick to an overall theme for the park. The design can take hints from local history or from classic, playful themes like trains or pirate ships. Themed parks encourage community building even more, and can appeal to pretend play for kids of different age levels and siblings playing together.
Trust Age Inclusive Playground Equipment From Miracle® Recreation
At Miracle Recreation, we are proud to offer commercial playground equipment that appeals to all ages of kids. We understand the need for a variety of locations to have spaces that cater to all ages and encourage playtime together. Playgrounds that provide activities for young and old kids have the most flexibility and community appeal. At Miracle Recreation, we have thrilling options to create the ultimate playground while remaining adaptable for any budget. Contact us today for more information.