I'm cross-posting this thread to places I think may be relevant. My family was an Unschooling family for twelve years. Though both of my children choose to go to school outside the home now that they're older, I still consider their choices to be perfectly self-directed since it is 100% their prerogative. I, myself, am still very much an Unschooler (can't get enough!) and remember all the years of entire days that we used to spend at parks around our city playing with other Unschooling friends. I believe that Unschoolers may have some especially useful advice for me with regard to building the ideal playground since they often spend a lot of time on playgrounds and also because they're such experts at following their own hearts. ;)
Our home sits in front of a city park, which is one of the reasons I chose this house. It has been a peaceful refuge of nature to escape to and I find myself falling more and more in love with it as the years pass. Only a few months after we moved in, some kids were playing with fire one day at the park which resulted in a large fire that destroyed the very large playground structure. A couple of trees burned, as well. It was a devastating loss for our neighborhood.
I have spent the past two and a half years working with our neighborhood association and countless local and national community resources as well as researching a diverse spectrum of playground styles in an effort to get educated, pool resources and rebuild the play structure. Now, the exciting time is finally here! We have generous funding and a team of experts ready to move forward quickly. And thank goodness I’ve been doing my research because I have the honor of representing the neighborhood in this project.
In talking with my own and other local children and contemplating the design of the playground, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really want to focus on quality over quantity. We have the option to either put in one of those massive contraptions with all the bells and whistles OR to do separate independent pieces that are more simplified. The main pieces that I'm hearing the most demand for are swings, monkey bars, and some sort of spinning contraption.
If we go with the separate pieces, the ‘fall zone’ for each piece must be much larger in diameter than the overlapping fall zones that are permitted in the design of combination structures. This will result in fewer pieces of equipment to play on due to the space constraints. In contemplating all of the options, however, I keep thinking that we’d get more use out of the equipment that kids say they enjoy the most instead of a more traditional structure. The kids often point out to me that many playgrounds they’ve played at have equipment that looks really cool but in which they ultimately determine the play value isn’t as appealing in use as it is to look at. These are mostly bigger kids who have a good amount of playground experience under their belt by now.
What do you think? What is your idea of the perfect playground? If you have some especially fun equipment in your neck of the woods, please share whatever details you can on it.
These pieces are going to, hopefully, be in use for many generations to come. I really want to be sure the neighborhood will get the most out of whatever is built.
Here are a few pieces that we're considering so far:
Arch Swingset: http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-swings
F-4 spinner: http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-motion
Rock N' Rider: http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-motion
Galaxy spinner: http://crs4rec.com/crs-products/crs-fun-on-land/play-equipment/xccent-play/independent-play/
Atom climber: http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-climbers#Atom
Ion X-Wave 2: http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-x-wave
Please share your thoughts. And thank you!!