Taking the time to play outdoors in your back yard, hiking through the woods, or at your local park has more benefits to your children and family than anyone can imagine. We will talk about child development in our upcoming blogs. The initial blog will start with the foundation of the children and that starts with family.
Take a moment to think back about your childhood. What were the best memories you had? I guarantee they were family vacations, climbing your first tree, your daddy teaching you how to ride a bike for the first time, camping, skiing, or family cookouts. Some great memories also happen indoors but the highlighted memories are usually outside, like playing until the street lights were turned on and your mother calling your name to come in to eat dinner. Those were great memories.
We know times are different now and children are not left unattended outside, but one thing still remains the same, family memories still need to be made so let’s lay down the devices and go outside with our families. – Green Roots Play Equipment.
So your ideas for your playground don’t match your budget. Don’t fret, you are not alone. You would be surprised how often this comes up when talking to potential playground buyers. At the end of the day, it is up to you or your organization to determine the best possible methods for getting the structure that you feel would best meet your needs. Very organizations have the capital to purchase a commercial playground outright. However, there are grants available. This method is quite often a very positive step in acquiring partial funding but you should be prepared to meet some competition for that grant money. Most schools and PAC’s fundraise privately through any number of methods from bake sales to bottle drives and even school dances. But what about financing?
Does it make sense? If you find that after sourcing grants and raising funds the old fashioned way, there is still a residual amount of money required to meet the overall costs, then financing could be a consideration. Working with a lender to help expedite your playground project with an affordable payment plan to meet your budget may be an option. Waiting to raise the money required can often result in lengthy delays and in some cases, many of the students and families partaking in the fundraising may move up to the next school before the fundraising is complete.
So what are some of the other benefits? First of all, you have some options. You have the option to finance any part, or all of your equipment. Perhaps you have raised enough capital to purchase the equipment, but what about the shipping, surfacing and installation? It may make sense to finance the remainder if it keeps your project on track. Or you can use available credit to finance other features to your playground such as benches or picnic tables. Having credit available also helps to preserve funds for emergencies or contingency projects.
There are may be tax advantages for your organization. In some cases the interest charged may be tax deductible. It may be worthwhile to speak to your accountant to see if it is advisable to amortize your playground as a capital investment over the life of the playground. It is important to understand that an investment in playground equipment purchased by private organizations increases property value and provides a positive return on investment in terms of amenities.
In the end, it really comes down to personal preference. Some prefer to wait and save, while others would like to see a quicker result. If you want to learn more about financing and what is required please contact Green Roots Play Equipment Inc. We can help to get you on your way to building the playground you’ve been planning for.
Free and unstructured play is critical to healthy child development, says a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The report was based on the principle that “play (or some available free time in the case of older children and adolescents) is essential to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children and youth.” This is not to say that adult-supervised or adult-driven activities such as organized sports are less significant in the health and well-being of a child, but it needs to be noted that free and unstructured play is equally important.
According to the report, play is important to healthy development of the brain. This is just one of the many reasons cited in the report. If we compare adult driven versus child-driven activities, it becomes much more apparent why unstructured play is so important. When a child participates in an activity such as organized sports, this is adult-driven and requires that the child follows the rules as laid out by the adult. On the positive side, the child often learns the value of team work and fair play. On the downside, the focus is more reflective of the adults concern for winning or losing. This can have dramatic effects on their self-esteem. There is no question that most adult-organized activities provide health benefits from a physical standpoint; cardio, muscle development and overall fitness, but they do not offer the same kind of benefits as free play.
If you have ever watched children at play on a playground, you will begin to understand the importance of free and unstructured play. The child is no longer bound by the rules of organized sports but is free to take on the types of activities that are often more in line with their interests.
They are free to engage socially with other children and practice their decision making skills and exercise their imaginations. They become very creative and learn the importance of peer interaction while at the same time learning to participate in group activities at a pace that is suitable to their abilities. This is often in sharp contrast to organized activities that set goals and impose expectations that are not always attainable.
The intention of this article is certainly not to reduce, criticize or downplay the importance of adult-driven activities, but to point out the need for balance between the two. Both have a large role in defining a child’s future. Lessons learned on a soccer pitch are just as likely to define that child’s future as free play on a playground. Both have long lasting benefits that they will carry into adulthood.
All children progress at different paces, so in order for a child to reach his or her potential without pushing them beyond their comfort zone, is always a difficult challenge for parents. Allowing children to develop at their own pace is something that seems to be overlooked in this fast paced world. Parents, for the most part, are keen to fill a child’s calendar with all kinds of organized activities but too often neglect the child’s need for free time. It is a balancing act for sure, and not always easy, but knowing that it is okay to loosen up the calendar to allow for free unstructured play time, is a great start. While you are at it, why not take some time for yourself and get out there and play with your children. No rules, just lots of fun and laughter. The benefits are amazing!
500 billion pounds of plastic is produced worldwide each year, yet less than 3% is recycled. In the United States alone, an average of 63 lbs of plastic per person ends up in landfills annually. Dumping it into landfills is terrible for our environment, but what can be done? Reduce, Re-Use and Recycle. This is the most effective way to reduce plastics going into landfills and clearly helps to reduce our carbon footprint. Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times. In fact, in the Los Angeles area alone, 10 metric tons of plastic fragments, such as grocery bags, straws and soda bottles, are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day. It is estimated that a plastic bottle takes up to 450 years to degrade in the ocean. To put that in perspective, 450 years ago, the pilgrims had not yet landed at Plymouth Rock.
Protecting the environment is on the top of the priority list at Green Roots Play Equipment. We are dedicated to reducing our environmental impact by providing quality playground equipment created from Recycled Structural Plastic (RSP) in many of our playground designs. We are proud to be the exclusive Canadian Distributor of Play Mart Playgrounds, the leading manufacturers in sustainable commercial playground equipment.
So what does this have to do with the environment? Plenty! Play Mart extrudes 100% of its own proprietary Recycled Structural Plastic. Each play structure is made up of 80% to 95% recycled materials with picnic tables and benches at nearly 100% recycled content. The company only uses one type of plastic in their products, which is Pure High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). In order to recycle HDPE, Play Mart uses recycled milk jugs exclusively. Milk jugs are made of Pure HDPE. In fact, each of Play Mart’s average playset contains nearly 25,000 milk jugs, diverting millions of pounds of plastic from landfills annually. As the company continues to grow, it will need more recycled milk jugs to meet the demand for Recycled Structural Plastic. It’s a win-win situation and a great start to reducing the amount of plastic going into landfills.
But the story doesn’t stop here. Parents and teachers need to continue to educate our children on the benefits of re-using yesterday’s plastic. Sustainable development is “meeting the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Earth Summit, Rio de Janero 1992) Teaching the children now about the need to reduce, re-use and recycle ensures that future generations will regard this action as commonplace. Imagine what it will do for the environment if we continue to focus on this simple formula. The world will be a much cleaner, healthier place for future generations. It all starts with awareness and the action to Reduce, Re-use and Recycle.
When it comes to building a new playground or "updating" your current structure, there are so many variables. You've determined your budget, or in some cases spent the past year or so fundraising and the excitement is building. The playground of your dreams is almost a reality. At this point it is safe to say you have spoken to a supplier, or if you are really on your game, you've spoken to a few suppliers and they have presented you with a stack of catalogs and provided you with enough information to get even the most composed individual sweating. The team or committee really needs to pull together at this point. They've got the basic concept of what the playground will look like. They have picked out colours, and determined the ages and number of children that the structure will serve. They may even have a vendor / installer selected to begin the process of turning what was once just an idea, into a real, honest to goodness playground structure that will not only wow the kids, but more importantly, fit into the look and feel of the neighborhood.
What? Let's back this up a little. Yes, the look of the playground should be appealing, but more importantly, there has to be a fun and challenging factor. There is a playground structure that was recently built right here in our hometown of Victoria that was designed as an addition to a current playground. A great deal of time and energy, not to mention a whole lot of money was spent to design and build a system that would blend in with the neighborhood. The committee chose to use all natural materials that would surely be the envy of every other playground in the city. Smooth wood surfaces that intertwined with each other looked absolutely amazing and the overall feel for the project was one of pure satisfaction. The committee had really thought of everything. Or had they? Within a few weeks of the playground re-opening, the new area was almost empty and the kids were playing on the old equipment.
So what went wrong? The new playground was a work of art, incorporating all natural materials that blended with the natural environment. They made sure that the area was safe and met all the regulations. They had considered everything except the fun and challenging factor. Traditional slides, swings and climbers are always important in any playground, that is what the old playground offered, and that is where the kids were playing. It was a hard reality for the committee. They had created an area that was visually pleasing but offered little appeal to the children using it.
Visual is a factor but it is only one part of the equation. And even the standard rules of yesterday no longer seem to hold true. In today's world, there is a growing shift in determining what a playground should consist of. There is a growing concern for obesity which means that many buyers will put an emphasis on fitness as well as fun. The buyer in this case should have combined the fun factor with the play value. The play value is determined by measuring the number of different play activities on each piece of equipment and deciding if there is sufficient play value. Once the play value, fun factor and challenge component is addressed, it is then a matter of selecting the playground structure that meets these values and fits the budget. Having a playground that looks amazing is always possible, but buyers need to be wary of making the same mistake as this one. After all, it is the children that benefit from your smart decisions.
When it comes to play, playground safety is the most important factor in preventing injuries to children. Every year an alarming amount of children across Canada get injured on playgrounds, most of which are preventable.
It is extremely important to ensure that playground manufacturers adhere to the Canadian safety standards before they are purchased. Playgrounds should be installed by certified playground installers to ensure that they meet the manufactures specifications in order to comply to the CSA standards. The most important factor in keeping playgrounds at a safe level is to maintain and upgrade them on a regular basis. This is key to preventing playground injuries.
Unfortunately there is no law in place that governs the regular maintenance and safety checks of existing playgrounds. Playgrounds should have safety inspections performed on regular intervals by a Canadian Certified Playground Inspector in order to avoid preventable injuries. Certified Playground Inspectors have been trained to find hazards in playground structures and surfacing that may not be obvious to the regular bystander.
One of the most important factors in preventing injuries on a playground is the playground surfacing. Over time, engineered wood fibre compacts down and becomes a very unforgiving surface for children to fall on. The engineered wood fibre needs to be raked out and topped up on a regular basis in order to meet safety standards. Many older playgrounds do not have adequate play surfacing, which is causing concussions and broken bones when children fall. Rubber tile play surfacing also needs to be maintained and checked on regular intervals in order to repair or replace pieces, or upgrade it once shows signs of wear and no longer provides adequate fall protection.
Over time pieces on the play equipment can start to wear or break and therefore it is equally important for maintenance checks to be performed on all playground equipment at regular intervals. Certified Playground Inspectors may find safety concerns that are potentially fatal such as entanglement hazards, as well as non-fatal issues that have occurred with time and use that need to be dealt with immediately. Repairs may be performed to bring the play equipment back up to the required safety standards, but if deemed unsafe, the playground should be taken out of commission immediately until it can be repaired or replaced.
It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to keep playgrounds at a safe level for children to play at. The majority of injuries occur on playgrounds when play equipment and play surfacing has not been kept up to safety standards, thus making them an unsafe place for children to play.
These preventable injuries are showing an increased need for mandatory safety inspections to be performed by Certified Playground Inspectors on regular intervals on all play spaces across Canada.
There is nothing more important than the safety of our children.
The outdoors is where children get to learn about the world around them. It is a place where children can run, explore, jump, shout, and burn off energy. By playing outdoors at a young age, children start to develop a respect for the environment. They learn to challenge themselves, take risks and develop an awareness of their skills.
Unfortunately in today’s society outdoor play is becoming replaced with TV, computer and other electronics. Health risks in children, such as obesity, are increasing due to children not getting enough excercise. Excercise through outdoor play is how children learn many of their gross motor skills such as balance and coordination and it is vital in helping build strong muscles and bones.
Besides the physical importance of outdoor play, social and emotional development is learned as well. When children are allowed unstructured play outside, they develop communication skills through social interaction with other children. Inventing games, making rules, and learning new games, teaches decision making, organizational skills and allows for cognitive growth.
Other factors that contribute to reduced outdoor time for children include the elimination of recess in public schools, both parents working full-time and therefore having less time to take children to the park, and, the safety concern for children playing outside without an adult.
Many children are involved in structured outdoor time such as soccer, baseball and other sports. Although this structured time is a physical benefit, the importance of unstructured outdoor play must never be underestimated and should be a large part of their childhood.
School aged children need to release energy after engaging in academic activity that requires concentration and focus. By allowing a child to release their energy through rigorous outdoor play, children are allowed to recharge their batteries and return to their academic studies with more positive energy. Physical activity is an essential component to academic learning.
Natural light and fresh air are vital to the immune system and they stimulate the brain to regulate emotions. This in turn reduces the chance of depression and helps to develop a positive emotional state.
Today's society is one of evolving technology. Children need to stay engaged and connected to the outdoor world through continues reinforcement. Learning to love the outdoors at a young age will lead to a love of outdoors for life.
Every child has a right to play. Not only do children discover their physical capabilities through play, they also develop social, emotional and cognitive skills fundamental for their development.
Play is invaluable for all children. Children with disabilities benefit equally from the value of play and it is imperative that they are granted the same opportunity. Unfortunately, many play spaces do not accommodate children of varying abilities. Physical barriers on a playground cause social exclusion.
When play areas and playground equipment are not accessible to children with disabilities, social barriers are created and interaction between children of various abilities diminishes.
Playground manufacturers and designers are now designing parks and playgrounds universally to provide inclusive play. ADA designs on playgrounds provide accessibility for children in wheelchairs, and other assistive devices, and allows all children to be included.
There are many ways to provide inclusive play on a playground. Designers can create wide pathways and provide rubber play surfacing which allows all users easy access to playground equipment. Manufacturers such as Play Mart provide ADA accessible play structures, by manufacturing ramps on playground equipment and interactive play along the ramps. They also provide ADA handles with transfer decks and ground play activities underneath of the structures. ADA accessible sandboxes, sand tables and many other ADA accessible pieces of playground equipment make it possible for all children to play together.
ADA accessible swings, such as the Biggo Solo from Dynamo, allow children the opportunity to swing together with their peers, parents or caregivers. Basketball hoops can be offered at different heights to allow children of all ages and abilities to play together. Many designs can be created to allow for an inclusive society.
Unfortunately, many communities lack places to play for children with disabilities. This has created an increased awareness to create inclusive playgrounds and play spaces, and although it takes effort to bring this to fruition, it can be accomplished.
Inclusive play benefits all children regardless of ability. It teaches an understanding and appreciation for diversity within our society, as well as tolerance and acceptance of everyone’s unique needs.
Working together towards creating an inclusive society will be beneficial to all.
Gardening is a great way for children to learn new skills and have fun. From tending their own plants they can learn about the science of plants, animals, weather and the environment, and about healthy eating. Add a great learning / play opportunity to the side of your playground. Find lots of great gardening products for your play area at Playmart.
What are Our Top 5 Most Popular Pieces of Playground Equipment?
With school back in session, one thing that matters for the young students is the awesome playground equipment that they get to enjoy during recess.
Modern playground equipment has been completely redesigned and re-engineered to maximize the amount of fun youngsters can have! With all the new and improved playground equipment on the market it is difficult to know which is the best and also the most popular. That's where we can help!
Green Roots Play Equipment is a proud Canadian Distributor of Play Mart Playground Equipment, one of the leading playground equipment manufactures. We believe that play should be educational while keeping kids active at the same time.
Two of the most popular playground pieces that Play Mart produces are interactive paint panels and built-in musical instruments.
The paint panel is a 4 sided, clear panel structure that allows children to express their creative side while still enjoying the great outdoors. This playground piece is not only unique, it's very popular in modern playgrounds.
Play Mart caters to the creative child with their playground equipment by incorporating musical instruments within their structures. This new product sparks the interest of the musically inclined child and also entices kids who are not familiar with musical instruments to experiment.
Another growing trend within playground equipment design is the idea of “Play Fit”. This promotes the development of a healthy, active lifestyle for children in their daily life and also for the future.
“Pike Peak” is one of the most popular “play fit” playground equipment that Play Mart makes. The design of the playground keeps children active and exercising while they play.
They have many popular playground equipment pieces, one of those being the “Beehive”. This is a futuristic looking climbing piece that helps kids work on their coordination and balance while having fun!
Another popular piece is the “Biggo Solo” that promotes physical and social activity with its interactive balance design. This piece is popular because of its versatility; children can sit, stand, or lie down on this swing and they can play alone or with friends! Kids will love the roller coaster like experience on this safe playground part.
These 5 popular playground equipment pieces are examples of the innovative and fun playground designs that are available today. Check out the other awesome products that we carry on our products page!
Remember Recess During the BC Teachers' Strike
It’s interesting times in British Columbia as the teacher’s strike looms on. We know some parents who have attempted to add normalcy to their children’s lives by maintaining a school schedule. In addition, others have considered home schooling, downloaded the appropriate curriculum, and began teaching and supporting their children’s educational needs at home.
Did you know that research has shown the skills associated with play ultimately lead to better grades? That’s right, Sergio Pellis, a researcher at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta claims that time on the playground is more beneficial than time in the classroom! "The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain, and without play experience, those neurons aren’t changed."
In another study, researchers found that the best predictor of academic performance in eighth grade was a child's social skills in third grade.
So, while you parents are busy providing educational support to your children during the teacher’s strike - please remember to include ‘recess’!
In our next blog, we’ll highlight the top playground equipment to help you work free-play into your child’s day.
Summer is in full swing and this is the time that every one flocks outside to enjoy all the wonderful benefits of long, summer days. Being a kid during summer, the best place to be is swinging and climbing on colourful playground equipment. The number one thing on the minds of children during the summer is when can we go to the playground and how long can we play for! The number one thing on the mind of the parent is playground safety and how to keep their child safe while still enjoying the awesome playground equipment that your city has to offer. Keeping children safe while they run, jump, climb, and swing on playground equipment isn’t easy, however if you follow this simple ten-point checklist, provided by The National Program for Playground Safety, it will become much clearer for the parent in need!
According to The National Program for Playground Safety, or NPPS, this checklist will help a worried parent keep their child safe during the summer months. Here is the list…
Making sure an adult is present 100% of the time.
Children should only play on playground equipment that is suitable for their age group.
Check that the playground surface is safe for the children to play on. For example, playground equipment should not be located on concrete, grass, packed dirt, or rocks.
Check that the playground equipment is safe, that there are no loose or broken pieces of equipment.
Make sure the playground equipment does not have any ropes or strings, as this is a chocking hazard for small children.
Check the temperature of the equipment. The playground equipment may become hot in the summer sun and unsafe for children to play on.
Children should not be wearing any sort of head protection while playing on the playground, as this may be something that could get caught on the playground equipment.
Making sure your child is dressed appropriately. The NPPS encourages children to wear closed toe shoes while enjoying the playground equipment.
Check to make sure your child is protected from the sun as much as possible and they are wearing sunscreen.
Don’t let your child play on the playground equipment is the temperature is too high. The NSSP suggests that any temperature above 32 degrees Celsuis can cause harm to children playing outdoors. Keep your child well hydrated during the hot summer months!
With this information in mind and the easy checklist to refer back to, get outside and enjoy all the beautiful parks and playground equipment that your city has to offer!
Play Mart is the Canadian leader in sustainable early childhood and playground equipment for all ages!
Place your order today for the hands on water play so the children have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoor play this summer. The Nature of Play products from Play Mart provide a hands on learning experience. At the same time they allow the kids to see the benefits of recycling.
Play Mart playgrounds are leading the way in providing you with very sustainable playground equipment and early childhood learning.