When you decide to create an indoor playground, you may be thrilled and ready to jump right into the process. It’s also perfectly normal to have a lot of questions. Questions are actually a great sign. They show you’re taking this investment seriously and planning ahead to create the best possible play space for kids.
ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS TO ASK
When you’re planning an indoor playground, these are some of the questions you’ll want to spend some time thinking through, either by yourself or with a committee:
Where Will This Playground Go?
Measure the space you will be using and take photos from several angles. When speaking with equipment reps or trying to plan your space, you can use these measurements and pictures to get a clearer idea of where everything would have to fit.
What Is the Budget?
How much to budget for your indoor playground will depend on how you plan to raise the money. You may have ministry savings, or you might need to fundraise. You can work with an equipment representative to phase build your playground, so you can pay for it over time as well, and financing can also be an option. There are several types of play equipment for every budget, and your rep can also help you review your budget options.
Who Will Play Here?
Consider the age ranges of the children who will likely visit and how the equipment will be used. Your organization can be a clue here. If you are a church interested in promoting the development of kids, innovative equipment that helps kids grow and provides plenty of learning opportunities may be right for you. If your organization promotes healthy activity, you may want playground equipment that encourages active play.
What Are the Special Considerations?
If your organization is faith-based, are there some themes that would be less appropriate? Do you want your playground to be inclusive for children of different ages and abilities? Would you like an area that can also be educational? Consider any added concerns you have.
What Indoor Playground Equipment Should I Choose?
To answer this question, you need to understand your choices. From classic playgrounds to music equipment and themed solutions, playgrounds today are much more enriching than ever before.
What Indoor Playground Surfacing Should I Use?
Once you have a sense of what playground equipment you want to use, consider whether pour-in-place, modular tiles or another safety surfacing would offer the best safety option and most appealing look.
DESIGNING A SAFE INDOOR PLAYGROUND
Building a safe commercial indoor playground is a priority for anyone creating an indoor play space. Of course, you want the area to be fun and inspire creativity for kids, but whether you are creating a playground in a daycare center, school, place of worship, restaurant or any indoor area, you’ll want to design an inclusive area that will help you reduce the risk of injury.
Design is one of the most important factors when it comes to playground safety. Long before the first children show up at your playground, the equipment you choose and the way you set up your space will go a long way toward making your playground safe and fun.
Here’s a list of tips for indoor playground safety to get you started on the path to safer play design:
Make Sure the Playground Is Not Congested
Offer enough room for children to play without bumping into each other and other equipment. Look at clearance areas required for each piece of equipment and make sure you have at least that much space surrounding the equipment.
Choose Playground Equipment Carefully
Look at safety standards carefully and buy your equipment from reputable companies with a strong history of safety advocacy. Be wary of buying used play equipment, as it may be near the end of its life cycle and may not meet current safety standards. An equipment company will be able to explain the safety of each piece of equipment to you and show you the safety regulations and standards it meets.
Consider the Age of the Children on Your Playground
Age-appropriate play spaces are important, since the same piece of equipment can be safe for an older child and unsafe for a toddler.
Provide Good Safety Surfacing
Pour-in-place rubber surfacing and modular tiles both allow you to customize surfacing to the space and the equipment you have. Be sure to provide adequate surfacing under heights, slides, climbers and swings, especially.
MAINTAINING YOUR EQUIPMENT
Designing your play space is only half the task. Once your play area is in place, use the following indoor playground safety checklist to keep it safe:
Inspect Your Playground Regularly
Check surfacing, play equipment and all areas of the play area for signs of damage or any wear and tear. Repair any damaged parts immediately.
Know the Maintenance Procedures for Your Playground Equipment
Read the manuals that came with your play equipment or talk to your representative to understand what maintenance will involve.
Create a Plan to Ensure Nothing Slips Through the Cracks
Create a schedule and post it somewhere it will be seen. Use this list to note when inspections, repairs and maintenance were completed and when they need to be performed next.
Outdated equipment can also pose a hazard if it hasn’t been maintained over time.
CHOOSING A THEME
Kids dream big, and choosing a theme for your indoor playground lets them imagine themselves in a magical castle, on a far-off island, in an enchanted forest or just about anywhere else they can dream up. Playing pretend in a pirate ship or a Wild West train station can really get kids fired up about using their imaginations and can ensure they keep coming back to play out the next scene of their big adventure.
A themed playground is also practical for you. You can choose a theme that aligns with your organization’s logo or mission. You can also create a cool space that works together as a cohesive goal. Indoor playgrounds are great on their own, but you can really get that “wow” factor when visitors can walk into your space and encounter a marine theme or an indoor beach!
As you’re deciding on a playground theme, consider:
Your Organization and Location
Sometimes, the right themes stem from who you are and where your playground is located. If you’re near the beach and your logo has a wave image, a seaside theme may be the organic choice. If you are located in Texas or the west, a Wild West theme might be a good fit.
The Children Who Will Visit
Consider the age of your visitors. Younger children may respond better to neutrally themed playgrounds, such as forests or green spaces. Older kids may appreciate the excitement of a fire truck theme, Medieval theme or other adrenaline-pumping adventure themes. Older children may also appreciate themes where more movement is possible. Something like a ship may be right for swash-buckling excitement!
You may want your playground to be a giant ship, but if your space is small with a low ceiling, another option may be a better choice.
Companies can work with different budgets, but keep in mind that if your budget is tighter, simpler play areas with fewer customizations can be the most wallet-friendly.
This article is courtesy of Soft Play, www.softplay.com. Soft Play – a global leader of contained playground equipment – leverages a strong backing and manufacturing expertise to develop the most innovative products and safe designs.