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A playground is an area designed for children to play freely. Modern playgrounds often have recreational equipment such as the see-saw, merry-go-round, swingset, slide, climber, walking bridge, jungle gym, chin-up bars, sandbox, spring rider, monkey bars, overhead ladder, trapeze rings, playhouses, and maze, 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.
Professionals recognize that the social skills that children develop on the playground become lifelong skill sets that are carried forward into their adulthood. Independent research concludes that playgrounds are among the most important environments for children outside the home. Most forms of play are essential for healthy development, but free, spontaneous play—the kind that occurs on playgrounds—is the most beneficial type of play.
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, which young children can claim for themselves, ideally a wood or field.
Playgrounds can be
- Built by collaborative support of corporate and community resources to achieve an immediate and visible "win" for their neighborhood.
- Public, free of charge, like at most rural elementary schools
- A business with an entrance fee
- Connected to a business, for customers only, e.g., at McDonald's and IKEA.
- Elaborate indoor mazes, like those at the (now defunct) Discovery Zone and Chuck E. Cheese's
- National Program for Playground Safety — serves as a recognized national U.S. clearinghouse for playground safety information
- Playground Safety Checklists & Info
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