Index by Subject

Adventure Play

Paying Homage to Adventure and Free PlayLos Angeles, California
If you’re in LA, or passing through in the next two days, check out Kelly Barrie’s exhibit at LAXART. His photos sing out a catchy song of freedom and play. If you’re like me and LA isn’t in the cards in the immediate future then enjoy Barrie’s photos right here at PlayGroundology.

Pop-Up Adventure PlayNew York City
What a winning combination – pop-up, adventure and play. Having been deprived of adventure playgrounds in my own childhood, I am always happy to have the opportunity to point parents in that play direction when something of interest pops up. Click through, pop in and find out a little more about adventure play and playwork.

Advertising

Vampires in Australian PlaygroundsSydney, New South Wales
Well, not exactly. But there is one playground where some scary creative for a new outdoor advertising campaign was plastered in plain sight of children. One mother went right to the heart of the matter and had the offending advertisement removed.

Art Playgrounds

16th Century Play – Brueghel Paints His Way Into HistoryBelgium
One child, two and three – play there must be. Flemish Renaissance painter Brueghel brushstroked the first play-a-thon that he entitled Young Folk at Play.

Art as Play – The Indoors – Outdoors PlaygroundOttawa, Ontario
In the interior courtyard of Ottawa’s City Hall there is a place where the door is always open. The Living Room is a multiple piece static sculpture by the design duo at Urban Keios.

Chilean Miners Playground – Industrial IngenuityChuquicamata, Chile
Otherworldly with a touch of the surreal describes some unique play structures that sit quietly in Chuquicamata, a former mining town in northern Chile. Located in the Atacama desert, the most arid on the planet, Chuqui is encircled by foothills of slag and tailings from nearly 100 years of mineral exploitation.

Experience the SuperSlideat Carsten Höller’s New Museum ExhibitionNew York City, USA
There’s a new slide in town on Bowery St. in Manhattan. It’s an integral component of Carsten Höller’s Experience exhibition at the New Museum running from October 26 through January 16.

Himmelhøj – Sky HighCopenhagen, Denmark
Since he was a young boy growing up in his adopted Australia, Alfio Bonanno knew he wanted to be an artist. At the age of 14, with the full support of his Italian family, he embarked on his apprenticeship in art. From the outset, he was drawn to the materials and the look of the natural world. He’s been on a global walkabout ever since.

Manhattan’s Bronze GuyManhattan, NYC
Anthropomorphic architecture installation – Playground – by sculptor Tom Otterness and Playgroundology’s first post.

Monster Mash – Conservation Wins the Day in San Gabriel, CaliforniaSan Gabriel, California
So, you want to go play in a lagoon with monsters? Have I got the place for you. It’s not on the bayou, no endangered mangrove swamps at risk and no flora or fauna about to die off though the playground itself was threatened with extinction in the very recent past.

Paying Homage to Adventure and Free PlayLos Angeles, California
If you’re in LA, or passing through in the next two days, check out Kelly Barrie’s exhibit at LAXART. His photos sing out a catchy song of freedom and play. If you’re like me and LA isn’t in the cards in the immediate future then enjoy Barrie’s photos right here at PlayGroundology.

Strathcona’s Folly – Fit for a PrinceOttawa, Ontario
The setting is magical and enchanted, a page right out of children’s literature. Saint Exupéry’s The Little Prince would find a welcome refuge in this playscape, another station on his voyage of discovery. I can see the golden haired boy exploring in the midst of the ruins. There he is meditating on the slipperiness of time while his sheep grazes on the surrounding grass.

Tour of Otterness’ 42nd Street PlaygroundManhattan, NYC
Playground packs in more fun than the proverbial barrel full of monkeys. Tom Otterness’ anthropomorphic sculpture installation is a space for wonderfalls, a place for children to imagine, to make believe and play.

Awards

Playground Manufacturer Wins Top Honours at National Design ShowMelbourne, Victoria
It’s not everyday that a playground manufacturer wins a major design award. In fact, I don’t know if it has ever happened before. That’s exactly what transpired last week for Danish firm KOMPAN at the Australian International Design Awards show in Melbourne.

Books

Once Upon A PlaygroundUSA
PlayGroundology allows me the opportunity to speak with many fine people from a variety of countries and backgrounds – artists, designers, advocates and activists, theorists and educators, photographers and psychologists, researchers, nostalgists, parents and beautiful dreamers. All are united in a fervent love of children, playgrounds and play and are mostly in it for the long haul.

I love it when we’re able to keep connected over time and PlayGroundology gets updates of new projects. That happened just today when photographer Brenda Biondo sent me a note about her new book, Once Upon A Playground.

Community Builds

Let’s Play, Play, Play in St. Andrews By-The-SeaSt. Andrews, New Brunswick
It’s always a treat to unexpectedly come across a playground jewel. I love those sweet spot moments when I first see a new playscape that will become the subject of a PlayGroundology post.

Conservation

Great Playground News from the California LegislatureCalifornia
Historic playgrounds in California are one step closer to preservation and protection.

Monster Mash – Conservation Wins the Day in San Gabriel, CaliforniaSan Gabriel, California
So, you want to go play in a lagoon with monsters? Have I got the place for you. It’s not on the bayou, no endangered mangrove swamps at risk and no flora or fauna about to die off though the playground itself was threatened with extinction in the very recent past.

This Old PlaygroundHungary
If there were a program called This Old Playground, I’m sure these young folks would steal the show. Játszótér felújítás is Hungarian for playground renovation. Just watch them get at it. The neglect here is approaching dereliction. It seems that love left long ago. (video)

Design

Go Tell it on the Mountain – Montréal’s Salamander PlaygroundMontréal
Montréal’s Salamander Playground incorporates new forms and equipment in a design by Cardinal Hardy Architects. Located in the city’s Mount Royal Park, it opened in June 2009 and is becoming a desination playscape within the city.

Playable10 Encouraging New Playground Design Paradigms; Atlanta, Georgia
If you believe in playgrounds, you’re going to love what’s happening in Atlanta, Georgia and the whole world has been invited to the ball. There’s now an exciting, new place to exchange, promote and recognize excellence and creativity in playground design

Playground Manufacturer Wins Top Honours at National Design ShowMelbourne, Victoria
It’s not everyday that a playground manufacturer wins a major design award. In fact, I don’t know if it has ever happened before. That’s exactly what transpired last week for Danish firm KOMPAN at the Australian International Design Awards show in Melbourne.

Fitness

From The Playground To The PodiumNew Zealand
From the playground to the podium, this is how the Canadian Olympic Committee characterizes the physical fitness and sports continuum. To produce international calibre athletes we have to start young. Physical activity, exercise and games are critical from an early age.

Guest Posts

All I Need to Know I Learned at the Playground, by Meg Rosker
Meg is a former public school teacher and blogs at Let Children Play. She started her website after she discovered that her son’s school doesn’t provide any recess for children after kindergarten. Now she writes to inspire families and educators to play and spread the word about its importance in the lives of all children.

Guerrillas in the Mist – Isle of Man Adventures in SwingIsle of Man, United Kingdom
If you’ve ever made or used a rope swing you are now and without realising it part of a movement… Welcome to Guerrilla Swing Movement!

A childhood wouldn’t be complete without using or creating a rope swing. More popular than the mundane manufactured swings you’ll find in your local park and often not for the faint of heart, these are the swings often made from old rope, lashed around the thickest available branch and often hanging over a river or significant drop. These are swings made by children for children!

Hallowe’en Treat – Spooky Playgrounds
A windy day. Hard white sunlight. A lone swing creaking back and forth… Why are abandoned playgrounds so downright spooky? Perhaps it’s because a playground is much more than a collection of structures. A playground depends on playing children and a caring community to thrive. Empty playgrounds that have fallen into disrepair seem haunted by the ghosts of the children who once scrambled, screamed, and scurried around there.

Playground Access for all Abilities, by Mara Kaplan
The following guest post was written by Mara Kaplan of Let Kids Play. Mara has 15 years experience designing and operating inclusive playspaces. Let Kids Play provides accessibility services to organizations that operate playgrounds or other playspaces. In addition, Let Kids Play helps parents and grandparents select perfect toys for children with disabilities.

Inclusive Playgrounds

Playground Access for All Abilities
Research study, after research study has proven that children need to play. Children need to play because it makes them healthier and less likely to become obese. Children need to play because it makes them more focused in school. Children need to play because it teaches them social skills that are essential to becoming adept adults. Although play has been decreasing from our landscape, many children are still out there playing on playgrounds.

Manufacturers

Playground Manufacturer Wins Top Honours at National Design ShowMelbourne, Victoria
It’s not everyday that a playground manufacturer wins a major design award. In fact, I don’t know if it has ever happened before. That’s exactly what transpired last week for Danish firm KOMPAN at the Australian International Design Awards show in Melbourne.

Media

Playgrounds in the Media II
It’s been a breathless sweep of media coverage this past week for Imagination Playgrounds, the Rockwell Group and New York City. A crowd of kids and dignitaries, including architect David Rockwell and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, descended on Burling Slip in Manhattan to put the first permanent Imagination Playground through its paces.

Playgrounds in the News
My geek factor is in the ascendant. As a budding playgroundologist I root around tracking down interesting tidbits about playgrounds – people, places, ideas, events and happenings. It’s a challenge to sate my curiosity.

Playgrounds Take A Hit In England
Playgrounds are big news in England over the last couple weeks. On August 4, people in cities and towns throughout the country participated at over 860 events organized to celebrate the 22nd annual Playday campaign.

Taking the fun out of being a kid – The West Virginia RecordWest Virginia, USA
While no one likes to hear about kids getting injured at the playground or elsewhere, it wouldn’t be harmful to take a step back from the preoccupation with extreme safety to see if it really does benefit our kids. More and more people are taking the view that the safety cocoon approach is questionable.

Musings

Introducing The Playground People™
I’ve just recently adopted and named this fun loving bunch. The idea started to germinate when I was in a kind of half sleep just before starting bedtime rituals for the kids one evening. I thought of Nellie-Rose’s prolific figure drawings and how they always bring a smile to my face. You see, they are my kind of people – exuberant, colourful and festive.

Play Is
Play is love is play is love
Love is play is love is play

I’ve been reading, thinking, doing more about play over the last couple of years. With three 5 and unders in the house, we have abundant opportunity to immerse ourselves in this imaginative and boisterous world.

The Adults Only, Two Is Better One, Playground Challenge
I spend an inordinate amount of time playing in and thinking about playgrounds. It’s a self-professed weakness. In fact, playgrounds have become the hobby I never had (I’m not counting the long derelict dalliance with philately). Like all of us with a keen hobby interest, I can go overboard by times, you know a little obsessed. For example, wondering how census data can benefit the world from a playground perspective, or maybe thinking about the origin of the slide….

The Day The Trading Stopped
I have a recurring daydream. It plays out during business hours on sunstreaming afternoons. Before my Walter Mitty groove takes hold, I am firmly ensconced in a swivel chair scanning the perpetual email crawl on my monitor. I am one of those hapless urbanites who toil daily in a glass wrap around monolith.

Time Keeps on Slippin’
Over the past few days, Lila-Jeanne our 16-month-old is calling me maman on a pretty consistent basis. There’s the odd token papa sprinkled in here and there but the indisputable default is maman. This is a heartfelt shout out for Mélanie aka maman who she clearly wants and pines for. I’m harbouring some warm and fuzzies too though. I figure that I must be an ok temporary stand in to get such honoured treatment with this most powerful of monikers.

Nature Play

Earth Day Nature Play
Is there any better playscape than our natural environment? In an increasingly urbanized world many children don’t have the opportunity to go natural.

Eden’s Fallen Log
The Eden Project also has a massive section of oak trunk that serves as a rustic play station. The trunk comes from an oak that fell naturally and was then hollowed and sandblasted by Touch Wood Enterprises Ltd.

Ocean Themed

Come Sail Away – The Boats That Wouldn’t Float – World Oceans Day Special
In honour of World Oceans Day welcome to a celebration of boat playgrounds from a place that’s close to an ocean near you.

Springriding Denizens of the Deep – World Oceans Day 2011
Happy World Oceans Day 2011. Bonne Journée Mondiale des Océans 2011. Let’s celebrate with some springriding denizens of the deep found at playgrounds far and wide.

The Young Kids and the Sea
They are a crew of two, 50 metres from the shoreline, scrabbling across the grass and scooping up lobsters in their tiny hands. Dressed for the occasion, they are well bundled in rain slicks to protect them from buffeting northwesters.

Photography

Endangered Species – Vanishing Playscapes
Brenda Biondo is a woman on a mission. Over the last six years she’s clocked thousands of miles on the roads of the southwestern United States. Each time she finds a treasure on one of her expeditions of discovery, she parks her car, takes out her camera and proceeds to shoot frame after frame of America’s disappearing vintage playgrounds.

Flickr Blog Features PlayGroundology Curated PhotosSweden
What a pleasant surprise last night when I discovered that the Flickr blog had featured some photos curated by PlayGroundology in a flickr gallery entitled Swedish Aesthetic.

Once Upon A PlaygroundUSA
PlayGroundology allows me the opportunity to speak with many fine people from a variety of countries and backgrounds – artists, designers, advocates and activists, theorists and educators, photographers and psychologists, researchers, nostalgists, parents and beautiful dreamers. All are united in a fervent love of children, playgrounds and play and are mostly in it for the long haul.

I love it when we’re able to keep connected over time and PlayGroundology gets updates of new projects. That happened just today when photographer Brenda Biondo sent me a note about her new book, Once Upon A Playground.

PlayGroundology’s flickr galleries
One of the many wonderful features of flickr is the ability to create galleries drawing from the entire flickr membership base. Galleries are limited in size to no more than 18 photos. They can contain the photos of any flickr member with the exception of the gallery creator.

PlayGroundology’s current galleries are:
Around the World in 18 Slides
Hungarian Playgrounds
Life’s a Beach and then You Play
More juegos infantiles de Chuqui
Northern Playgrounds
Old Playground Furniture
Paris Playground Scenes
PlayGround Beat
Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs
World Oceans Day – Boats for Play I
World Oceans Day – Boats For Play II

Many thanks to all the wonderful photographers who agree to have their work shared in this way.

Play Organizations

Out2PlayNew York City
Out2Play is a New York City not for profit whose mission is to create and improve schoolyard play spaces. Under the leadership of founder Andrea Wenner, the organization has transformed well over 100 schoolyards throughout New York City since 2005.

The UK’s Birds of PlayUnited Kingdom
This week’s edition of ScreenShot Mondays features four, count them, 4 brilliant UK play organizations. Together with communities and constituents they do so much in the name of play. They are involved in research, policy development, promotion and advocacy. They’re the best friends play could ever have.

Playground Bloggers

The Great Manhattan Playground AdventureManhattan, NYC
There’s a magical nanny crisscrossing Manhattan of late with Lexi and Annie her two young charges. Sarah Swymner, who has adopted the nom de plume Sarah Poppins, has set out to visit all of Manhattan’s public playgrounds over the course of the summer. The trio of adventurers is already well advanced in its quest – 100 down, 107 to go.

Recess and School Playgrounds

Ballon Poire – Pear BallMontreal, Canada
Ballon poire is a very popular Quebec schoolyard game. This excerpt from a lively sock it to you match up was shot near Parc Jarry in Montreal earlier this spring.

Lights, Camera, Action
The next time you pass by a school at recess, stop, look and listen. The playground is like an orchestra in motion, kinetic soundscapes of bobbing colour. This is where the kids rule, where they run, talk, laugh and find common cause. This is where their thirst for free form fun is getting quenched. When I do get the chance to hear it, that rolling crescendo made possible by a critical mass of kids, I invariably smile. It takes me back to my own childhood, to british bulldog, red rover, tag, sports and the freedom to play.

Reports and Research

IKEA playreportSweden
Thanks to the Polish blog Children’s Time for reviving my memory about this research. I was not able to locate IKEA’s original Facebook posting on the global study but found a downloadable copy of the playreport at Third Door Workhub and Nursery.

Retro

A Playground Stalwart
Not all designs are created equal. This 1919 photo from Halifax, Nova Scotia is a good illustration of the maxim. The ‘sling swing’ is an innovative design that didn’t have staying power, never became the standard. Halifax, Nova Scotia

Dennis is Dead, Long Live Dennis Monterey, California
Hank Ketchum’s Dennis the Menace isn’t really dead. That lovable imp’s mischievous adventures are immortalized in syndicated comic strips around the world.

Feel the Motion at 1950s PlaygroundHalifax, Nova Scotia
This brief excerpt from a 1957 promotional film shot in Halifax, Nova Scotia features two pieces of playground equipment that have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Monster Mash – Conservation Wins the Day in San Gabriel, CaliforniaSan Gabriel, California
So, you want to go play in a lagoon with monsters? Have I got the place for you. It’s not on the bayou, no endangered mangrove swamps at risk and no flora or fauna about to die off though the playground itself was threatened with extinction in the very recent past.

Popular Mechanics on the Playground Beat
I remember Popular Mechanics as a boy growing up in the 1960s. One of the trademarks was a small font size. They also had wondrous plans, superb graphics and fine photos. Until I stumbled across an old issue, I had never considered it as a resource for playground research. At the turn of the last century, Popular Mechanics had started chronicling the playground world in the United States. Who knew?

Swings

Guerrillas in the Mist – Isle of Man Adventures in SwingIsle of Man, United Kingdom
If you’ve ever made or used a rope swing you are now and without realising it part of a movement… Welcome to Guerrilla Swing Movement!

A childhood wouldn’t be complete without using or creating a rope swing. More popular than the mundane manufactured swings you’ll find in your local park and often not for the faint of heart, these are the swings often made from old rope, lashed around the thickest available branch and often hanging over a river or significant drop. These are swings made by children for children!

In Montreal The Swings Are Alive With The Sound Of MusicMontreal, Canada
These are sweetnote dreamswings an innovation in play and sound. The 21 swings installation is located in Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles on the Promenade des Artistes.

Vernacular

Chilean Miners Playground – Industrial IngenuityChuquicamata, Chile
Otherworldly with a touch of the surreal describes some unique play structures that sit quietly in Chuquicamata, a former mining town in northern Chile. Located in the Atacama desert, the most arid on the planet, Chuqui is encircled by foothills of slag and tailings from nearly 100 years of mineral exploitation.

Harvest PlaygroundDempsey Corner Orchards, Nova Scotia
Dempsey Corner Orchards is a special treat for kids particularly those whose daily comings and goings are in an urban setting. It’s a real hybrid experience. There is the wonder of animals – chasing chicks and hens, petting calves and watching the goats face off against each other. There are fruit laden orchards with succulent harvests of apples, pears and peaches. And in the farmyard and its environs a playscape, built to the scale of open skies and rolling hills, is a busy scene of bustling energy.

The Young Kids and the Sea – Magdalen Islands, Québec
On a trip to the Atlantic coast Magdalen Islands we get a chance to play on two simple yet spectacular fishing boat playscapes.

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