A playground or play area is an area designed for children to play, indoors or outdoors.
Modern playgrounds often have recreational equipment such as the see-saw, merry-go-round, swingset, slide, jungle gym, chin-up bars, sandbox, spring rider, monkey bars, overhead ladder, trapeze rings, playhouses, and mazes, many of which help children develop physical coordination, strength, and flexibility, as well as providing recreation and enjoyment. Common in modern playgrounds are "play structures" that link many different pieces of equipment.
"Public" playground equipment refers to equipment intended for use in the play areas of parks, schools, child care facilities, institutions, multiple family dwellings, restaurants, resorts, and recreational developments, and other areas of public use.
A type of playground called a playscape is designed to provide a safe environment for play in a natural setting.
Children have devised many playground games and pastimes. But because playgrounds are usually subject to adult supervision and oversight, young children's street culture often struggles to fully thrive there. Research by Robin Moore (Childhood's Domain: Play and Place, 1986) has clearly shown that playgrounds need to be balanced with marginal areas that (to adults) appear to be derelict or wasteground but to children they are area's that they can claim for themselves, ideally a wooded area or field.
A type of playground called a playscape can provide children with the necessary feeling of ownership that Moore describes above. Playscapes can also provide parents with the assurance of their child's safety and wellbeing, which may not be prevalent in an open field or wooded area.
Playgrounds can be
A study done by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that playground injuries were responsible for 23 visits a day to emergency rooms in Ontario, Canada. The largest proportion of these visits were for orthopedic and head injuries (51% and 22% respectively.)
In the United States the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American National Standards Institute have created a Standardized Document and Training System for certification of Playground Safety Inspectors. These regulations are nation wide and provide a basis for safe playground installation and maintenance practices. ASTM F1487-07 deals with specific requirements regarding issues such as play ground layout, use zones, and various test criteria for determining play ground safety. ASTM F2373 covers public use play equipment for children 6-24 months old. This information can be applied effectively only by a trained C.P.S.I. A National Listing of Trained Playground Safety Inspectors is available for many states. A Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) is a career that was developed by the National Playground Safety Institute (NPSI) and is recognized nationally by the National Recreation and Park Association or N.R.P.A.
European Standards EN 1177 specifies the requirements for surfaces used in playgrounds. For each material type and height of equipment it specifies a minimum depth of material required. EN 1176 covers playground equipment standards.
In the UK playground inspectors can sit the examinations of the Register of Play Inspectors International (www.playinspectors.com) at the three required levels - routine, operational and annual. Annual inspectors are able to undertake the post-installation inspections recommended by EN 1176. For further information and downloads see The Play Inspection Company at www.playinspections.com
In the 1990s, after the breakup of the USSR, many items of playground apparatus in post-Soviet states were stolen by metal-thieves, while relatively few new playgrounds were built. However, there were so many Soviet playgrounds that many of them still exist and are in a relatively good state, especially those which were repainted.
Play components may include earth shapes (sculptures), environmental art, indigenous vegetation (trees, shrubs, grasses, flowers, lichens, mosses), boulders or other rock structures, dirt and sand, natural fences (stone, willow, wooden), textured pathways, and natural water features.