Monday, November 16, 2015
For those of you who know us, who visit us on social media or know us personally, you are not surprised by our passion regarding children, Nature and our belief that there must exist a healthy relationship between the two.
Yes, our jobs involve designing and constructing play areas, but our "jobs" don't stop there. We are continually striving to share what we learn about the importance of nature and of play with those who are willing and eager to listen.
Recently, we were made aware of this documentary called "The Land". According to the credits, "The Land (2015) is a short documentary film about the nature of play, risk and hazard set in The Land, a Welsh "adventure” playground. At The Land children climb trees, light fires and use hammers and nails in a play-space rooted in the belief that kids are empowered when they learn to manage risks on their own".
This film is supported by Playwork which is a practice and a profession that is said to remove barriers to children's play. Playwork has a decades long history in Europe and a there exists a rather large library of theory.
While we continue to educate ourselves in the importance of childhood play, we thought that we would introduce you to this film. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments in the section below. We'd enjoy learning your thoughts.
Monday, October 5, 2015
Hello to all and Happy October!
Where did summer go? We hope that this post finds you doing well and enjoying the beautiful fall weather we've been having [at least here in New England]. While our southern friends have been dealing with rain, rain and more rain, we've had crisp sunny days perfect for hiking, biking and apple picking!
For those of you who live in New Hampshire, you may have heard of the Mill Brook Gallery & Sculpture Garden in historic Hopkinton, New Hampshire. Owner and President of Natural Playgrounds Company, Ron King, will be presenting at the Gallery on October 14th. Mark your calendars and be sure to attend.
Wednesday, October 14, 6 pm:
Providing A Space For Creative Play — The Benefit of Natural Playgrounds
by Ron King, Owner and President of Natural Playgrounds Architect
We wanted to attach a shareable image - !so please feel free to attach this image to one of your posts and share this event information
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
We got started by designing and building #mudruncourses for two event companies, several fitness courses for a New England city, and then mini challenge courses for child care centers, and then realized we should offer these elements to everyone, because obesity is the number one issue is this country due to lack of exercise!
When you click over to our website, you'll can see from the pictures featuring both young children and adults, the elements can be scaled to fit any age group, because no matter what their size, they offer the challenges that increase physical fitness, balance, agility, and awareness of self.
The prices shown listed under the photos on the website are for adult-sized elements, so if you want elements for children, please ask!
Family fitness runs (many of which involve mud :) are great fun and great fund raisers, but lots of times, even though you may want to put one together, buying or setting up the fitness elements are a little beyond your reach, so we have both a rental and an installation program that might help you get over these impasses.
You are interested in a temporary challenge? We can help with that as well. Here’s what we worked out for rentals anywhere in the contiguous US!
For each element, rental is $684.95 per day of use (we don’t charge for the time elements are in transit), with a 2 day rental minimum. This rental fee includes shipping!
If you want help setting up and breaking down the elements:
For between 1 and 4 elements, we charge a total of $1173.95 per element per day (again with a 2 day minimum). This includes the rental, shipping both ways, installation, and dismantling.
For between 5 and 8 elements, we charge a total of $1078.95 per element per day (again with a 2 day minimum). This includes the rental, shipping both ways, installation, and dismantling.
Call or email us, and let us help you put together a fun and exciting fitness run!
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
For many of you reading this post, you've already prepared your children for another school year. Another year of new experiences, new best friends and new lesson plans.
Playground safety is everyone's concern, but protecting children from all harm is simply impossible, and research is also supporting the assumption that protecting children from all possible danger is unhealthy.
Children of all ages need to learn how to manage risk so as adults they're able to handle the risk in everyday living and decision-making.
It's up to you to provide safe or acceptable risk situations on your playground, whether that means your backyard play area or the play yard at your child's school. The more natural you can make your play environment, the more children will be able to experience safe risk encounters that force them to make play decisions teaching lifetime lessons.
Life lessons are not always learned in a classroom. Life lessons very often happen on the playground.
Encourage your children, your students to be careful, but not stop them from experiencing life to its fullest!
We want to wish you a most successful and enjoyable school year!
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
We recently discovered this article online by Angela Hansom who is a pediatric occupational therapist and the founder of TimberNook. We wanted to share her Three Examples of How Play Outdoors can be Therapeutic because we so appreciate the critical importance of her science and the discoveries that she, and so many others in her field, have made regarding children and their need for physical exploration.
As you read Hansom's examples, we'd like for you to remember your own youth and what playing outside meant to you. What lessons you learned. What bonds were forged. What scraps and bruises healed and were replaced by childhood memories that will never be forgotten.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Our embankment slides are very popular. We have been asked to create playscapes using these slides because of the fun they provide, but we do get asked occasionally if they are safe. We wanted to share several thoughts from the founder of Natural Playgrounds Company regarding hillside slides and nature-based play that may help you determine if this is the right playground for your child and your community.
"...accident rates on traditional, equipment-based playgrounds continue to climb. According to the National Orthopedics Association, accidents on equipment-based playgrounds cost the US almost $14 billion a year, and some of those accidents result in deaths.What this is saying it that in spite of passing all the stringent safety tests, and meeting all of the safety requirements and guidelines, equipment-based playgrounds are so unsafe that the accidents on them cost the US almost $14 billion a year!.... yet equipment manufacturers have no problem guaranteeing parents that children will be safe playing on their equipment because it has all been tested by ASTM/CPSC/IPEMA to be safe.How can this possibly be? How is it that accidents on traditional, equipment-based playgrounds continue happening at this alarming rate? $14 billion!We couldn't figure it out, and none of the safety experts could provide us answers, either, so we decided we needed to ask children what's going on.We interviewed 6000 of them, and they all gave us a very simple answer.Manufactured playgrounds are boring.The first day of school, it's all very exciting. The second day of school, it's the same thing as it was yesterday. The second month of school, it's the same thing it was the first day. The second year of school, it's the same as it was the first day.Couple that with the sea of wood chips or rubberized surfacing, and you have a play environment that is absolutely lifeless, unchallenging, and leading to no discovery-oriented play, which is where the fun really is.
When children get bored, they do things on the equipment for which it was not designed: running up slides, and falling off the sides. Pushing each other out of boredom, sometimes over the sides of equipment. Climbing up on the tops of railings to jump off doing helicopters. Shinnying up swing supports so they can hang from the crossbar. Anything that makes play more exciting, but in being rambunctious on equipment elevated above the ground, they get in accidents, one after the other, to the tune of $14 billion a year here in the US.In stark contrast to this, accident rates on natural playgrounds are almost nonexistent. The whole concept is to provide so much ground-based, discovery-oriented play based on natural landscapes, that children (and adults) constantly find new things, changes that take place overnight, insects and wildlife that inhabit the natural environment, giant, deep, freeform sand play areas with old-fashioned pitcher pumps so they can make big sand sculptures and dig to China, big logs lying on the ground so they can sit on them or straddle them, big hills they can run up and roll down......and built into those hills at ground level, they find exciting things to do:• amphitheaters with stone or log seats for sitting on the hill that faces a stage for dramatic play• a slide built into the hill, so there is no place to fall off the sides, with a typical fall zone at its base• a climbing wall built into the hill, with a typical fall zone at its base• shallow caves• rock scrambles• forts built into the tops of hills• and many other features that make the three-dimensional hill an exciting place to be.Then there are gardens that are part of the play area so children can play play in them, dig in them, weed them, harvest them; and there are groves of trees, and shallow streams, and rain gardens, and sound gardens, and huge loose parts play areas.There are literally no heights from which children fall, which makes natural playgrounds inherently and significantly safer than the traditional equipment-based playgrounds to which you refer.
Every one of our playgrounds is designed to meet all ASTM and CPSC standards, and CPSI's who come to inspect them have fewer issues with them than with traditional, equipment-based playgrounds. ADA is pleased with them, as well, because play elements on natural playgrounds are all ground-based and very easily accessible..... we are trying to expose them to much more calm, discovery-oriented, nature-based play experiences that teach them about their bodies, nature, social interaction, and collaboration.When I was a child, I would make forts out of branches, or I'd climb a tree and hug the trunk, or I'd lie on my back and look up at the leaves and pine needles against the sky, or I'd look down and find a dog toothed violet poking its spring head up through the leaves, or I'd sit and push the leaves around me into a circle that became my room, or I'd pick the wild strawberry in the field, and watch a grasshopper perched on a strand of grass moving in the gentle breeze.These are the kinds of experiences we are trying to bring to play environments".
Ron King is president of the Natural Playgrounds company headquartered in Concord New Hampshire. The company designs and constructs Natural Playgrounds all over the US and can be reached through the web at www.NaturalPlaygrounds.com, by e-mail at info@NaturalPlaygrounds.com, or by toll-free phone 888-290-8405. Their website is full of research, pictures, fundraising sources, and information about Natural Playgrounds. Their store carries many of the items mentioned in the article.