Our wooden play structures that were created by APES (Adventure Playground Engineers) were designed and created with the children and young people who attend the playground. They provide a unique opportunity to climb, jump, swing and generally challenge yourself physically all day long. The structures consist of three rope swings, an 8 sided swing, a 20m tall tower, walkways and bridges, nets, fireman poles, a zip line as well as a real life boat.
Our play structures sit on a large outdoor space consisting of a nature garden with pond, firepit and planters. Two sports pitches, a large grassy area and a play building with kitchen, toilets and indoor place space.
To add to the play space we also have bikes, pedal go karts, skateboards, crash mats, wheel barrows and lots of collections of scrap material which we call loose parts.
What are loose Parts?
Loose parts are simply a collection of materials in the play setting. They can be pieces of wood, containers, tires, barrels that can be moved around, carries, rolled or lifted to create new and interesting structures and experiences.
The theory is that children will play more imaginatively and flexibly with loose parts that are lying around than specifically designed play equipment. Children and Young people enjoy loose parts because they can play with them in different ways for very short periods or even for days at a time if they want to. A good play space will have lots of loose parts. An example of this would be cardboard boxes, they can be climbed onto and into, can be a costume, can be used for junk modelling or making towers or they can be used to just smash up. We try and make sure we have lots of exciting loose at the playground to enrich children’s play.
Risk in Play
A play setting offers the opportunity for a range of experiences that contain risk, including climbing, balancing, swinging, sliding, traveling through the air at speed and playing with the elements. In supervised settings, although children may hurt themselves there is qualified help available and the level of risk is not life-threatening. We understand that children can develop risk management skills more safely in a play setting than playing in the street, the roads outside their house or in open spaces. It is important for us to understand that in order for children to deal with hazardous situations themselves they need to build up their confidence with the play environment. This will take time and has to include risk assessments. Initially this has to be carried out by the playworker but children can and will become involved and ‘risk literate.’
Children need and want to take risks when they play. Play provision aims to respond to these needs and wishes by offering children stimulating, challenging environments for exploring and developing their abilities. (Play Safety Forum 2008)