The Importance of Free Play

Children at recess and in other play situations have two main options: They can be allowed to play freely, or given structured activities and play to take part in. While both have their benefits, many caregivers opt for structured play to help encourage “productive” playtime and keep playtime under control. However, the importance of free play means more kids should be given free rein at recess to push their own boundaries and grow.

Importance of Free Play

Why Is Free Play Important?

The benefits of free play cover all the areas of childhood development:

  • ■ Mental: When children play without adult rules and interaction, they need to help develop the rules of the games they create, and they really allow their imaginations to run free as they come up with new ways to play. This process encourages children to push beyond their limits and think outside the box to come up with fun variations on what they know. Staying flexible and adaptable as the rules change is also great for helping stimulate cognitive ability.
  • ■ Emotional: Free play is child-centered, which can help build independence and confidence. As children play with their own rules, they learn the consequences of different choices, how to problem solve, and even how to deal with disappointment, which helps them grow emotionally. A child who invents a new game on the slide, and then proceeds to lose, learns to handle the disappointment and how to better adopt new rules in order to to set themselves up for success. Kids who play without adults telling them what to do also get to explore what kinds of play they do and don’t enjoy.
  • ■ Physical: Kids who are allowed to free play enjoy stretching their legs and experimenting with movement, whether that means trying new moves on climbers or heading down a new slide. When kids are free to try on their own, they may learn to test out their boundaries.
  • ■ Social: Free play can be excellent for social skill development, since kids who play without adult interaction and interference must negotiate among themselves. Kids learn how to convince others to try things their way and learn to resolve differences of opinion and debates about what’s “fair” in a game on their own.

Many of these skills learned in free play can then be brought back to the classroom or even to organized sports and more structured activities. Quite simply, free play gives children a chance to figure things out for themselves.
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Bring the Benefits of Unstructured Play to Your Playground With PlayPower Canada

Now that we’ve established the importance of free play in childhood development, how can you get more free play time into your children’s play space? Free play can benefit from quality play equipment designed to give children the freedom to explore different types of play and games in one space. PlayPower Canada has a range of durable pieces and solutions, and we can customize playgrounds and play equipment to fit your needs. Contact PlayPower Canada today to learn how we can help you create the playground you want.

Designing a Senior Park

Designing a Senior Park

For seniors, parks and outdoor recreation spaces provide crucial benefits. These spaces can encourage elderly community members to head outside the home, exercise and socialize. Green spaces can be stimulating for seniors and can help them stay physically and cognitively fit longer. Fresh air, sunshine and physical activity can pay off for those enjoying their golden years, and designing a senior park can help you serve this important group in your community.

What Do Seniors Need in Parks?

If you’re designing a park for the elderly, keep in mind that seniors have a few extra needs, such as:

  • ■ Accessible, even ground surfaces that can accommodate walkers, wheelchairs and people who are fully agile.
  • ■ Clean spaces with plenty of visibility and good lighting. Debris can be a trip and fall hazard, and good lighting is important for those who have age-related macular degeneration or other conditions that affect eyesight.
  • ■ Shade. Seniors walking in the summer need to stay cool and will appreciate shaded areas as well as seating areas for relaxation.

Designing a Park for Seniors

Tips for Designing a Park for Seniors

When creating an outdoor space for seniors, start with these tips:

  • ■ Appreciate that seniors are a very diverse group: When designing a space, make sure you appeal to all seniors by providing choices for everyone. This strategy may mean adding exercise circuits as well as quiet benches under shade.
  • ■ Consider age-related mobility concerns: Walkways should be wide, smooth and even, with no spaces where canes or wheelchairs can get stuck. Try to keep grades at no more than two percent, and make sure there are plenty of benches along the walking areas so that people can stop to rest when they need to.
  • ■ Make the space feel safe: Seniors want to take part in their community and have a place to socialize, but in some cases, they may feel unsafe as their communities change. Create a welcoming and safe space by cleaning, offering litter receptacles and keeping areas well-lit. Promote good visibility with few or no isolated spots. Use plants or fences to buffer the noise and distraction of streets.
  • ■ Offer lots of choices: Having fitness circuits, walking paths, benches, chess tables, areas for picnics and other activity ideas helps seniors with different needs enjoy your outdoor space equally. Keep in mind, too, that seniors may come to a park with grandchildren or younger family members. Make sure your space is inclusive and allows different generations to come together.

Work With PlayPower Canada

The PlayPower Canada team members are experts at designing senior-friendly parks. We’ve already helped organizations and communities across Canada build accessible and inclusive parks that elderly visitors love. With quality products and a diverse range of fitness equipment and park accessories, we can help you design and build exactly what you’re looking for. Contact PlayPower Canada today to talk about how we can customize your park area.

 

Designing a Playground for Preschoolers

For preschoolers, play is serious business! Before their school years, younger kids rely on play time to learn and develop mentally, physically, emotionally and socially. Designing a playground for preschoolers allows you to create a safe and enriching space for the future generation!

Telescope, Tribute, Memorial

Big Concepts in Early Childhood Playground Design and What Kids Need

Kids who are particularly young need a few specific features from their preschool playground’s design. The space needs to:

  • ■ Engage: Children in the preschool years are still developing their attention spans, so playgrounds need to be exciting and interesting to keep their focus. Look for bright colors, multiple activities and a natural element to keep kids engaged.
  • ■ Promote independent play and supervised play: Provide activities that allow for independent play and play with adult supervision. This combination will mean playground equipment should be designed with plenty of space around it so that caregivers and adults can step in to help.
  • ■ Be inclusive: Young children develop at different speeds, so you need play equipment that can be used by both children who are advanced and those still developing gross and fine motor skills. Look for play equipment that allows children to be helped along by caregivers if they need it. PlayPower Canada has a wide variety of play equipment for children of all abilities.
  • ■ Lend development supports: Look for playground equipment designed to help children grow physically, emotionally, mentally and socially. Equipment that assists in building fine motor skills while also appealing to the senses and helping children play in groups while learning, for example, makes playtime more impactful.

Putting Safety First

Safety is a key concern for preschool markets. Children of this age are still working on balance and muscle group control. They may not know how to stay safe, so they may be at risk on playgrounds that are perfectly acceptable for older kids to play on. When designing a daycare playground, you can keep children safer if you:

  • ■ Keep heights low: Buy equipment that’s designed specifically for younger children, and ensure there are no tall heights when it’s set up.
  • ■ Look for play equipment designed for younger children: Playground slides, climbers, swings and other pieces designed for older children can be dangerous for toddlers. Always purchase playgrounds specifically designed for your age group.
  • ■ Buy quality equipment: Purchase from quality manufacturers who have a track record of safety and create durable, quality pieces from non-toxic materials. PlayPower Canada carefully curates the best brands to help you design a safe play space, for example.

If you’re ready to start creating your play area for little ones, contact PlayPower Canada to toss around some preschool playground design ideas and start putting together your custom playground.

Evaluating Playground Bids and Proposals

Evaluating Playground Bids

If you have sought out multiple bids and proposals, you now have to take on the task of reviewing them all and selecting one, which can feel pretty daunting. Since all of them are persuasive, how can you be sure to choose the right one to get the playground you want?

Evaluating playground bids and proposals does not have to be overwhelming. By creating some parameters for comparison and looking beyond the words to what’s actually being presented, you can narrow down the stack of bids and come up with a clear winner.

How to Evaluate Playground Bids

Evaluating playground bids starts by going over what you’re looking for and then narrowing down your list of options. You can do so by comparing the proposals in a few basic ways:

  • ■ Start by deciding what matters to you: Create a list of features and amenities you want most for your playground, and use a number system to determine which features are absolutely crucial to you and which ones are less so. Go through the bids and proposals, and see which ones fail to meet your most basic needs. By eliminating these non-starters right away, you’ve already narrowed down the numbers and made the process of evaluating playground proposals much simpler.
  • ■ Take a look at the size of the playground equipment: Does it fit your needs and allow children to grow with the playground? Does the equipment fit into the space you have? Check your playground measurements to ensure you’re considering bids for equipment you have space for.
  • ■ Consider the warranties: Examine how much is covered by warranties and how long they last. Keep in mind that anything not covered by warranties will need to be covered by you if there are any problems at your playground.
  • ■ Compare costs: It can be tempting to look at cost first, but it should be the last thing you consider. Thinking of price first can mean you end up with a playground that costs more in the long run because it may need to be replaced sooner. By considering quality and fit first, you ensure you get a quality investment in the future.

Evaluating Playground Proposals

Working With PlayPower Canada

If you’re looking for durable, innovative and quality play equipment, get in touch with PlayPower Canada. We offer a range of playground solutions and have been helping create play spaces across the country. Our custom design capabilities and personalized attention ensure you get the playground you want and need. Contact us today to talk to a member of our team about the playground you want to build.

Trash Receptacles Buyers Guide

Trash Receptacles Buying Guide (1)

When visitors come to your park, what do they see? Hopefully, they see a sparkling clean, inviting space that encourages them to linger a while. Keeping your park free of debris is a crucial part of projecting that image, and it’s an important way to honor the investment you’ve made in your green space.

Trash receptacles deserve a lot more attention and respect than they get, mainly because these hard-working park accessories can help you keep your outdoor space cleaner. PlayPower Canada has put together this trash receptacles buyers guide to help you choose the right litter bins and containers for your park.

As you consider where and how to encourage visitors to dispose of their trash, think about the following questions:

How Many Trash Receptacles Does Your Park Need?

In general, you want a few trash containers around your park, especially near any seating or food areas. When it comes to litter receptacles, a guide or rule of thumb suggests they should be about 25 feet apart.

Where Should the Litter Receptacles Go?

Any transitional space, such as an entrance into a new space or into a park, should have a litter can. In addition, any space near seating areas, washrooms or picnic spaces should have trash receptacles since people are more likely to eat (and thus have food wrappers) there. Any areas where children congregate, such as playgrounds, are also good places to put additional trash bins. If you see debris in specific places in your park, these areas are also good candidates.

How Can You Encourage People to Toss out Their Trash and Recycle?

In addition to making your trash containers visible with bright colors and shapes, make sure they’re handy. Fewer people will use them if they have to walk off a trail to get to them. Also, make sure the bins are welcoming. If they’re overflowing or smelly, they’re less likely to encourage visitors to throw out their debris.

An area that does not get enough attention — yet is of most importance for our future generations — is recycling. Adding a recycling container to your park will not only show your visitors that you care about the environment, but it will hopefully encourage them to utilize it appropriately.

In today’s society of on-the-go lifestyles, more and more beverage containers and other recyclables are being consumed outside the home. Recycling saves energy, ensures our environment stays clean, conserves materials and reduces landfill garbage. By placing a recyclable container in your park, it can help teach, motivate and reinforce recycling at home as well — portraying a positive and eco-friendly park image to your community.

Finally, consider whether you might wish to add a sign thanking people in advance for tossing their trash and recycling. Some parks even add a fine for littering to ensure visitors know the rules.

Which Litter Containers Should You Choose?

PlayPower Canada has many litter containers and options and can even customize bins to your specific needs. In general, make sure you choose bins that are the right size. For heavy-traffic green spaces, make sure you buy large enough containers so that they will not overflow.

Think about bright colors or hues that blend into your space. Consider, too, how the bins will be used. Do you want an open trash bin or a closed one to discourage pests? If you opt for closed lids, consider carefully how large the opening needs to be to stay convenient. Look for bins that are easy to keep clean and empty out.

We hope these litter receptacles guidelines have you thinking about your green space and its cleanness in a whole new way. If you’d like to find the right bins for your park, contact PlayPower Canada to learn about our many options and our customization capability.

Why Outdoor Training Is Better Than a Gym Workout

Fitness Training Outdoors
Wondering whether to sign up for a gym or take your exercise outside? Considering why outdoor training is better than a gym workout? Outdoor exercise offers you:

  • ■ Vitamin D: Want to get some vitamins with your workout? Since vitamin D synthesis is produced when sun hits your skin, training outdoors in the sunshine can help you get more of this fat-soluble vitamin! Vitamin D is particularly beneficial to your immune system and bones.
  • ■ Oxygen: Exercising outside lets you enjoy every deep lungful of fresh air. You get more fresh air outside, surrounded by trees and plants. The outdoors also smells better than a sweaty indoor space for this very reason.
  • ■ A changing landscape: How long can you really spend watching the person in front of you in spin class? One of the big benefits you can experience by heading outdoors is that you’ll feel less like a hamster on a wheel. Outside, you can see the changing landscape, taking notice of weather and different seasons throughout the year. You can experience the change in temperatures and even head to different outdoor spots to mix up your workout and keep things exciting and fresh.
  • ■ Room to move: Have you ever been to the gym after the New Year? Waited 15 minutes for the next machine to open up? The outdoors has lots of real estate where you can exercise, so you’ll have plenty of space for your workouts.
  • ■ A naturally resistant workout: While indoor exercise equipment has different levels and settings, it also has you repeat motions exactly. Outside, your body has to stand up to different levels of wind, temperatures, and potentially various terrains, which naturally provides your muscle groups with more challenges to get every part of your body working.
  • ■ Cost savings: You don’t have to pay for classes or exercise equipment to enjoy an outdoor workout. There are parks with fitness circuits that are free to use, and you can also enjoy recreational spaces and walking trails, often with minimal or no fees.
  • ■ A good workout: A workout outdoors does not have to be any less rigorous. A fitness circuit at a park or outdoor area can still provide full strength training and cardiovascular work, and it can be customized to be as intensive or gentle as you need.

Working Out Outdoors Benefits

Ready to Enjoy the Benefits of Outdoor Physical Activity?

If you want to help your community reap the benefits of outdoor fitness, you’ll find that equipment is important. Choosing the right fitness equipment helps you create a welcoming, inclusive and durable fitness area in your park, school or any other outdoor space. PlayPower Canada can help you customize your fitness area for your specific needs.

When you work with PlayPower Canada, you’ll get professional advice and support to help you get the exact fitness space you want. Our equipment is carefully tested and comes from the most trusted brands in the business, so you get fitness equipment that meets or exceeds all safety standards and is made to last as well, making it a smart long-term investment. Contact PlayPower Canada to start discussing our wide array of fitness equipment and fitness circuit solutions today!

Guide to Providing Shade in Your Park

Shade for Park Playground

Providing adequate shade in parks is essential to encouraging visitors to drop by more. When visitors know they won’t overheat and understand they can seek refuge in a comfortable, shady spot on a bright day, it’s easier for them to make the decision to visit the green space you’ve worked so hard to design!

Proper shade also helps keep active visitors from overheating on sunny days and can protect everyone from the sun’s rays, especially when they’re spending lots of time outside. Shade can even cut glare, so when exciting events are planned, audiences can see better.

You have lots of options when it comes to offering shade. We’ve created this guide to providing shade in your park to help you make the best choices.

How to Provide Shade in Parks

If you have a park, green space or recreational area and want to add shade, you should mull over a few considerations:

    • ■ How much space do you have for your shade? Do you have room for lots of trees, or are you better off with a cantilever shade structure that has minimal posts? The smaller your space, the more important it is to find shade solutions with a small footprint.
    • ■ What is the terrain like? If the ground is sandy or bad for trees, shade structures may be a stronger option. If you live in an area where flooding or extreme weather is a risk, choose highly stable and durable shades.
    • ■ Do you want public park shade structures or natural shade, such as trees? Trees can blend in more easily with a green space, but you need to consider pests and how long it will take trees to grow. In addition, think about whether root systems will harm garden areas, benches or recreation areas. If you’re considering shade structures, think about your budget, needs and the look you would most like to see.
    • ■ Where is shade most needed? Look at where park visitors tend to linger for a while. Whether it’s by picnic tables, benches or a favorite spot to watch sports, these are the areas where shade is important. Also, keep an eye out for any areas that overheat and anywhere park visitors tend to be active. These spaces may need some shade to keep things cool.
    • ■ What visibility considerations do you need to think about? Make sure your proposed shades are not blocking views of bandstands, sports fields or a great view. If you have a playground, for example, make sure parents can supervise children without being encumbered by a shade post.

Shade over Park Picnic Area

Work With PlayPower Canada for Public Park Shade Structures

PlayPower Canada has years of experience providing shade in public parks across the country. We offer a range of shade solutions, from ones with small footprints to larger shades that cover more space. We can even help customize your park area with a personalized shade designed for your unique needs. Contact us today to start discussing your park shade structures.

Biba-Enabled Play

NRPA Survey + Using Technology To Connect Kids to Nature

Free games to encourage healthy outdoor playDid you know the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) publishes the results of its monthly park and recreation surveys? The surveys are part of its official polling group, the NRPA Park Pulse and are available to the public on the NRPA website. Click the image below to see an infographic of the results.

In July 2018, the focus was on Drawing Kids to Nature Through Tech, and the findings revealed that 77% of the parents surveyed agreed that “merging technology and nature will increase children’s desire to go to parks.”  In a related article, Barbara Tulipane, CAE, NRPA President and CEO is quoted as saying “The negative effects too much screen time can have on a child’s development are well-known. However, when used responsibly, technology can be used to connect children to their natural surroundings, especially in parks where opportunities to bridge technology and nature exist.”

PlayPower Canada is well aware of how tech can actually draw children to play and experience the great outdoors. In February 2015 we launched mobile games optimized for PlayPower playgrounds, then in early 2016 followed up with free games to encourage outdoor play. Both these articles feature Biba mobile apps and Biba-activated playgrounds from PlayPower. Since then, Biba-activated playgrounds have been installed across Canada, delighting families with their ability to add digital elements like treasure maps and obstacle course challenges to play areas. The Journal of Child Health Care published an article on a study noting that Biba playground play results in greater amounts of moderate to vigorous physical activity – a great outcome given the challenges parents are facing with when trying to encourage their children to get healthy, physical activity. To see other ways Biba is benefiting parks in Canada, click here to learn about playground data reports on our website.

The experts at PlayPower Canada are here to help you create the best solution for your site and community. Along with our accessible, inclusive, and smart playgrounds, we offer formal training, workshops, webinars, and informational kits to share successful models and challenges we’ve overcome along the way.

Contact your local PlayPower Canada rep today to find out more about using technology to connect kids to nature.

Lola the Snail M00000963

Canada’s Best Play Equipment For Your Community—Now On Sale!

Playground Sale Canada

For a limited time, save on the best playground equipment in Canada! We’re running a special promotion on our finest assortment of play structures and independent events.

Now is your chance to create beautiful, fun play areas that delight your community—even if you are dealing with a limited budget. Give your children access to the developmentally appropriate and inclusive equipment they need. This offer is for Canadian playground buyers only, and runs only through June 30th, 2019.

PlayPower Canada products are IPEMA certified to be compliant to CSA standards, meaning you can rest assured that you’ll be purchasing top-quality products that comply with the latest standards.

Act now for great savings on Little Tikes Commercial and Miracle Recreation play equipment. This sale includes both full play structures AND independent events. Request a free quote today!

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Click the catalogue above to see our sales flier. Like what you see? Contact a rep directly to get a quote!


Give All Children the Ability to Play Together

Universally accessible playgrounds from Unlimited Play and Little Tikes Commercial.

Little Tikes Commercial and Unlimited Play are ready to partner with your local team to create universally accessible playgrounds that children of all abilities can enjoy together.

Unlimited Play is a non-profit organization that uses universally accessible playgrounds to rally community members around a higher set of values, working together to build environments where individuals on all levels can connect for a common cause. The goal of our partnership is to create an inclusive play environment that will be a point of pride for the community for many years to come — a place where all kids and adults are accepted for who they are, not what they can or can’t do.

Rock’n Ship Glider

Little Tikes has developed products like the Seven Station Play Factory that enables children of all abilities to easily play together or enjoy a parallel play experience. Other Little Tikes Commercial inclusive and accessible play components include the Rock’n Ship Glider, a gently swaying, wheelchair-accessible glider, and Activity Panels that allow children to express themselves while exploring imaginative play.

The experts at Unlimited Play, Little Tikes Commercial and PlayPower Canada are here to help you create the best solution for your site and community. Along with our accessible and inclusive playgrounds, we offer formal training, workshops, webinars and informational kits to share successful models for universally accessible play as well as the challenges we’ve overcome along the way.

For more information about the Little Tikes Commercial partnership with Unlimited Play, please visit http://littletikescommercial.ca/our-products/commercial-playground-equipment/inclusive-and-accessible-playgrounds/ or http://littletikescommercial.ca/unlimited-play/ for more details about our inclusive and accessible playgrounds.

For more news on inclusive play, check out the posts below.

Contact your local PlayPower Canada rep today to find out more about Unlimited Play and how we specialize in helping businesses, schools and other organizations understand the importance of inclusive play spaces and experiences.