Modern playground equipment is a great way to get children out in the fresh air, moving and socialising, having fun, and making memories every single playtime. What is also incredible about modern outdoor play equipment is the fact that it also provides lots of cognitive, mental health benefits for the pupils using it. In fact, every piece has something different to contribute.
Here’s a look at different types of playground equipment, and how they benefit the minds of little learners.
Mud kitchens & sensory equipment
Mud kitchens are incredibly popular pieces of playground equipment, particularly in nurseries and playgrounds for younger children. They look like a small version of a full, adult kitchen, and usually have play versions of pots, pans, food and other accessories.
Mud kitchens can be placed inside, but most are used outside to allow children to enjoy full sensory messy play using mud, water and other materials.
Mud kitchens and similar playground equipment offer many benefits to children’s learning. Socially, they encourage children to engage with caregivers and friends to create games and engage in role play. Children can also develop empathy and explore emotions safely by ‘being in another’s shoes’ as they play.
Imaginative play, which is the main purpose of a mud kitchen, can also aid language skills, lower anxiety, help children to concentrate and focus, and reduce disruptive behaviours. Social and imaginative play is also important for helping children to learn emotional regulation, which has an impact on their academic performance and cognitive development.
Swings are always popular in a playground, because they are fun and relaxing, and are often, with the use of DDA swingsets and basket swings, accessible for all pupils. They can be part of a climbing frame or tower set, double or individual swing sets with support seats for younger children, or flat seats for older children able to support themselves.
Swing sets benefit the minds of children because they stimulate multiple parts of the brain at the same time. Muscle control, balance, rhythm, spatial awareness and development of the whole vestibular system occur in a way that other types of playground equipment don’t offer.
Climbing frames, towers & other multi-centre pieces of equipment
Climbing frames and towers are pieces of equipment that usually have steps, ropes or climbing walls, and often incorporate other features like bridges, swings, slides, tyres and platforms. They come in different designs, with a range of features, size and overall design. Often, they are split into suitability for different age groups to ensure they are safe when it comes to the fall risk for the children using them.
Climbing frames and other similar types of equipment are incredibly beneficial to a child’s mind. They help them to develop confidence, critical thinking skills, risk awareness and overall co-ordination. Cognitive development is supported as they work out the best routes up the frame, play imaginative games based on the piece of equipment, socialise with other children, and learn how to move their bodies through the space and in relation to the equipment.
In addition to the equipment listed above, there are brain-boosting extras you can add to a playground that may not count as ‘equipment’ as such, but that still have a really positive impact. These include:
Thermoplastic playground markings are a great addition to a playground space. You can have colourful characters, alphabets, sports markings, games – anything you can think of, and in a huge range of colours. The markings can last years, are non-toxic, naturally reflective and highly durable.
Markings encourage the use of language during socialising, and expose children to academic topics whilst they are spending time outside. They also stimulate imaginative play and the invention of games, and they encourage children to exercise, which in itself boosts blood flow in the brain and provides natural feel-good hormones, furthering their ability to do well in the classroom.
You can have brightly coloured equipment in a playground, as well as bright flooring like wetpour and vivid grass. These bright colours appeal to children because they are one of the earliest ways babies begin to learn and differentiate between objects.
Colour schemes are also useful when it comes to creating different playground ‘zones’, and may help children navigate the playground space with more ease.
Sustainable and eco
You can have playground equipment installed that helps encourage more nature into the playground. We know nature play benefits the minds of children, and adding equipment that encourages even more nature into the space only enhances those benefits.
Planters, for example, can be used in science projects where children learn about the way plants grow, photosynthesis, the role of plants in the ecosystem, and why plants are important for animals, insects and people.
Equipment like insect hotels can help children learn about ecological concepts, wildlife, and protecting the environment. This can be incredibly powerful for children who may be impacted by eco-anxiety, something two thirds of 7-12 year olds suffer from. Equipment like insect hotels help them to feel empowered to do little actions that have an impact, rather than feeling weighed down by the global crisis they hear about from a young age.
“Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning.” – Diane Ackerman
If you would love more help with the design of a playground that helps stimulate the minds of little learners, speak to a professional playground equipment company today. They can give you lots of information about the modern equipment on offer, explore different design options, and help you create an outdoor play space with a large selection of benefits for the little ones in your care.
With the perfect modern playground, young pupils can learn and develop, all whilst having lots of fun every single break time.