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Three Tips for Choosing the Right School Playground Equipment


According to the Canadian Public Health Association, recess is essential for student success. Research suggests that providing adequate time for play helps students develop emotionally and physically. As little as 15 minutes of outdoor play during the school day contributes to better classroom behaviour, as well.

Creating a healthy space on the playground starts with selecting the proper equipment. Today, we'll explore three tips for choosing playground equipment that turns recess into a space for growth.

1: Effective School Playgrounds Encourage Physical Activity

Boys playing on an overhead ladder on the school playground

The modern school-aged child is busier than ever. Over the last four decades, children have lost 12 hours of free time a week. Researches find children have experienced a 25% decrease in play and a 50% decrease in unstructured outdoor activities.

For some children, the only opportunity for outdoor play is at school during recess. Recess periods are usually shorter than the recommended 60 minutes per day, so playground equipment that encourages students to get moving is essential. A great option for encouraging this accidental fitness is playground climbers.

Climbing is a great full-body workout that’s fun, challenging, and doesn’t put excess strain on the body. GameTime's VistaRope® net climbers promote physical strength, positive risk-taking, and balance and coordination. When schools add climbers like these to a playground, they give students more opportunities to develop gross and fine motor skills.

2: Include Sensory Play Activities

Girl playing in the colorful shadows on the playground

Children learn through engaging with the world around them and their senses help process what they encounter. Sensory play helps students refine their sensory skills. When you add sensory play elements to a playground, students encounter many different sights, sounds, and textures at once.

Sensory play is easy to integrate into new or existing school playgrounds. You can add ShadowPlay® roofs and panels to cast colorful shadows throughout the play area or add GT Sensors to panels or play system components for auditory, tactile, and auditory play. You can also install sensory elements within the Sensory Wave Arch Climber to integrate full-body movement.

3: Make Your Play Area an Inclusive Space

Children play together on an inclusive school playground

As students grow older, they encounter other children with disabilities. Kids equate the concept of "fairness" to "being available to everyone," which is not always realistic for children with disabilities.

Research shows that promoting disability awareness has significant positive effects on a child’s understanding attitude toward people with disabilities. The school playground is the perfect place to instill an inclusive mindset so children become advocates for accessibility and equity throughout their lives.

If you're designing a new school playground, we recommend using the research found in Me2®: 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design™ from PlayCore and Utah State Center for Persons with Disabilities. This comprehensive design guide is filled with research and resources to help you create a playground that benefits the whole child and the whole community.

We’re Here to Help

Selecting the right school playground equipment can help children stay fit, develop fine motor skills, support sensory development, and teach children to have an inclusive mindset.

GameTime’s portfolio of school playground products can you help you plan the perfect school playground. Contact a GameTime representative today to combine the right mix of products, research, and programming to make a difference in the lives of your students.