Play Places for Adults and Children
These days, not all play spaces are solely for kids. Parks and playgrounds offer more than just the swings and seesaws of yesterday. Today, you’ll find sturdy playground equipment that’s designed for comfort and durability. Outside the playground, you’re likely to find exercise equipment that’s suitable for adults.
These spaces are called multigenerational recreational spaces. They appeal to both kids and adults so that both age groups can join in on the fun.
Multigenerational recreational spaces encourage fun among kids and their parents, grandparents, coaches, and teachers. Because they’re designed with everyone in mind, all ages may find enjoyment and entertainment at their community playgrounds.
Read the full article or skip to a specific section:
- Principles for Multigenerational Design
- Benefits of Multigenerational Design
- Freestanding Activities (For Ages 2-5)
- 1. Choosing Age-Appropriate Equipment
- 2. Choosing Safe Equipment
- Fitness Areas
- Inclusive Playgrounds
Principles for Multigenerational Design
A multigenerational recreational space’s design can determine its effectiveness. These factors can impact the space’s success:
- The area’s design
- The included play spaces
- Its appeal to community members
- Its ability to meet community needs
Overall, a recreational space for all ages should address the needs and abilities of varying age ranges. No one should feel left out, and there should be activities available for everyone. In turn, it can serve as a community gathering space.
A multigenerational recreational space should also allow visitors to:
1. Get Fit
Outdoor exercise and play help adults and children stay active, and an active lifestyle has many benefits for all ages. From a lower risk of disease and weight management to reduced stress and higher happiness levels, physical exercise is crucial for health.
Playgrounds with surrounding nature tend to be more comfortable and appealing to adults. As they feel more comfortable, adults could feel more inspired to spend more time with kids outside and participate in activities.
As a whole, a multigenerational recreational space should support physical participation and encourage physical activity while also minimizing unnecessary fatigue. This way, kids and adults can stay engaged in play long enough to reap all the benefits of multigenerational design. They can build habits that promote a healthy and active lifestyle.
2. Be Included
Accessibility is a foundational factor in a playground’s inclusivity, but accessibility alone isn’t enough. Physical accessibility doesn’t necessarily equate to inclusivity. To be truly inclusive, playgrounds should cater to all ages and abilities so everyone may benefit from children playing with adults.
The goal of multigenerational recreational spaces should be to try to meet everyone’s needs in a play space. Inclusive playgrounds should incorporate these characteristics:
- Appeals to a variety of ages and a range of interests
- Promotes interactivity between participants for all levels of ability
- Offers ground-level access
- Fosters the development of motor and social skills
Playgrounds don’t need to be restricted to one play space for all age groups. Instead, a playground can include multiple play areas that appeal to different age groups and interests. For example, a play area for kids ages 2 to 5 would include different activities than a play space for a five to twelve age group. This is due to a difference in abilities and needs.
3. Stay Cool and Comfortable
A playground should also include amenities that increase comfortability. Examples of these features include:
- Picnic areas
- Game tables
- Structures that provide shade
- Sitting areas for adults to rest while kids play
In particular, shade is an important investment for a multigenerational recreational space. Shade makes the space more comfortable for visitors, and helps extend the longevity of your playground equipment. Shade structures can enhance your experience at the playground by:
- Blocking as much as 96% of the sun’s harmful UV rays
- Keeping the playground 20 degrees cooler
- Protecting equipment from the weather and sun damage
- Providing a cool resting spot for hot days
- Allowing everyone to play longer without overheating
At Little Tikes Commercial, we know how essential shade is to a well-rounded playground experience. We offer a variety of shade structures that can meet the needs of any playground, such as:
- Single-post shades: These traditional shades are supported in the middle by a single post.
- Triangle shades: Triangle shade structures provide lots of shade with a unique look.
- Two-post hip structures: These shade structures are great for covering bleachers or pools without a sole post in the center.
- Pyramid play shade: With a classic, peaked roofline, this shade provides extensive coverage.
- Custom shade structures: If you want to design a shade structure specific to your needs, Little Tikes Commercial can help you build the structure you want, from the shape to the color.
4. Play Safely
Lastly, all playgrounds should incorporate safety standards to aim for safe play. While playgrounds are a place to practice skills and try new challenges, they need to be safe so all ages can play and have fun.
To establish safety measures in your multigenerational recreational space, consider these elements in your design:
- Who will use the space: To keep your play area as safe as possible, you should think about the ages that will use it. Because it’s a multigenerational area, be sure to consider its accessibility for older individuals in addition to kids. Use the potential ages to guide your selection of equipment and other materials. For instance, you shouldn’t choose playground equipment that’s too tall for younger users.
- How many will use the area: You should also consider a projected number of daily visitors. Play spaces should be big enough for everyone to play comfortably. When everyone has enough space, enjoyment levels rise. This also reduces the chance of miscommunications or accidents. Multigenerational spaces should have sufficient room for all visitors.
- Where the space is located: The local environment can also present safety concerns. Occurrences like floods or excess heat can make your play space unsafe. However, you can set up various preventative structures to help users stay comfortable. For example, using natural shade or shade structures can keep away harmful UV rays. Or, a proper drainage system can lessen the impacts of excess water.
- How you will meet safety regulations: There are many federal standards and regulations that playground equipment should meet, such as those set by the CPSC or ASTM International. These guidelines outline how users can stay safe while using equipment, and multigenerational spaces should strive to meet these. In turn, the area improves its safety features.
By incorporating fitness, inclusion, comfort, and safety in an intergenerational play space, a strong sense of community can grow. Implementing these principles for multigenerational design will benefit everyone who visits the recreational space.
Benefits of Multigenerational Design
When it comes to intergenerational play, everyone benefits. When kids play with adults, they show higher levels of creativity, problem-solving, and language skills. When adults engage in family play with kids, they experience improved moods, higher cognitive skills, and reduced levels of stress.
In a recreational area designed to engage all ages, there are plenty of ways to build skills together. For example, kids can enjoy using a Memory Game panel with their parents so they can practice their memory skills together. Or, perhaps the recreational area can feature a walking trail for parents and children to enjoy together. As they take in the sights and sounds of nature, they also get exercise.
Here are more of the skill-building benefits of multigenerational design:
1. Cognitive Skills
Getting active gives everyone the chance to grow their cognitive skills. Play that is stimulating and engaging can keep kids participating for a longer period of time. Cognitive skills that adults and kids can learn or improve include:
- Problem-solving skills
- Cause and effect
- Understanding visual and mathematical relationships
2. Social Skills
Play is not truly inclusive unless it includes a social component that allows kids and adults to engage in meaningful socialization. Parents interacting and playing with children on the playground is crucial for their development. Social skills that adults and kids can learn or improve include:
- Compromising and sharing
- Taking turns
- Expressing ideas to others
- What is acceptable behavior and language
- How to make friends
These are a few of the products we offer that encourage group interaction:
3. Emotional Skills
A multigenerational recreational area can provide a space for kids to feel safe emotionally. In turn, they can enjoy a sense of belonging and make decisions about how and when they want to join in playtime.
Kids and adults can also improve emotional skills like:
- Navigating differences and disagreements with others
- Expressing feelings
- Building self-esteem
- Demonstrating empathy
4. Physical Skills
Everyone needs to be physically active. In the shift toward a more sedentary lifestyle, adults and kids need to make time for exercise in their daily lives. A multigenerational recreational space is a great place for everyone to get the exercise they need.
Here are other advantages for kids’ and adults’ physical skills:
- Gross and fine motor skills
- Define relationships of measurements, such as weight and distance
- Control of objects
To allow everyone to attain these benefits, adults should avoid instructing or directing kids during intergenerational play. Instead, kids should explore and play freely. To promote these behaviors, adults should participate in free exploration, too. With mutual participation and positive attitudes, the benefits of a multigenerational recreational area are limitless.
Freestanding Activities (for ages 2-5)
Play is a vital developmental component for young children, so providing them with the best playground equipment for their age and abilities is key. Freestanding playground equipment can enhance the fun of any play space with little expense. Kids ages 2 to 5 will enjoy activities such as climbers, motion components, and freestanding slides.
As kids in this range begin to gain control of their bodies, they can be introduced to playground equipment that requires increased physical activity. These activities can help kids at this age develop their fine motor skills and muscle control.
1. Choosing Age-Appropriate Equipment
Kids receive the greatest value from activities and structures that are designed for their ability levels. These include their physical strength, motor skills, and level of cognitive development. While some equipment may be designed for kids under 5, these activities are still safe and can still be fun for older kids between 6 and 12.
2. Choosing Safe Equipment
Safety is a concern for many parents and caregivers when it comes to playgrounds. To ensure a playground is as safe as possible, keep in mind proper equipment sizes, surfacing and playground conditions.
Young kids are energetic, so it’s important to match playground equipment to their development and their energy levels. To keep kids ages 2 to 5 safe on the playground, choose the proper size of equipment to ensure they can be safe while they play. Surfacing can also help kids remain safe while playing by lessening the impact of falls from slides, swings, climbing structures and other playground equipment. Finally, regularly assess your playground’s conditions to discern whether other measures for safety need to be implemented, including shade structures or borders.
- Lola the Snail
- Gallagher the Grasshopper
- Nectar the Bee
- Scarlet the Lady Bug
- Mirage Seat
- Spin Rocker
- Surface Spinner
- Three Congas
- Medium Cabasa
Every activity offers a ton of fun for kids, so simply choose what works best for your kids and your budget.
A multigenerational recreational space might have a fitness area separate from playground equipment for adults and older children to enjoy. Fitness areas offer the chance for kids and adults alike to get a great workout. Fitness equipment can include stationary bicycles, a leg press, an overhead press, an elliptical and bars shaped for efficiency and comfort to use for wall pushups or to grip while performing squats.
Here are just a few benefits of incorporating fitness equipment into a multigenerational recreational area:
- Appeals to older children who may be losing interest in playground equipment designed for younger kids
- Prepares kids for participation in team sports
- Promotes active play and healthy competition
- Encourages kids to get and remain active by making exercise fun, which will benefit them throughout their lives
- Allows everyone to have fun while exercising, regardless of age
At Little Tikes Commercial, we offer engaging equipment options that you can choose to use for fitness:
- The Single Balance Beam: This beam is great for kids ages 5 to 12 who want to perfect their balance.
- The Turning/Chinning Bar: This bar is used for exercises like chin-ups and stretches. You can use the bar alone or with a friend.
- The Parallel Bars: These bars help users develop their upper body strength. Kids ages 5 to 12 use their arms and hands to lift themselves off the ground and move from one end of the parallel bars to the other. This can be a fun activity with a friend.
- The Vertical Ladder: This activity is great for targeting core, arm and leg muscles.
- The Leg Lift Loop: This exercise is perfect for older kids. While hanging onto the loop above their heads, they lift their legs without bending their knees until their legs are parallel to the ground.
- The Arch Ladder: This activity can help visitors improve their footwork, agility and speed along with upper and lower body strength.
- The Monkey Bar: Use this bar for pull-ups, chin-ups, hand-over-hand exercises and much more.
- The Dip/Leg Raise: Work on your leg, thigh and calf muscles with this activity.
- The Ab Bench: This piece of equipment targets your core.
- The Sit-Up Bench: This bench can be used for various stretches and also provides a space for sit-ups. For an additional boost, the bench includes another bar where you can tuck your feet.
The various pieces of equipment found in a fitness area can target arm, leg, hip, core, shoulder, back and arm muscles –– a whole body workout. You can improve your strength, balance, flexibility and coordination by using the equipment properly and following instructions on signs posted near exercise stations.
For a little less intensity, you may also find paths for walking and picnic tables with games, such as checkers. So even while taking a much-needed break, you can still engage your cognitive and social skills.
What else does a fitness area have to offer?
- It’s free. Who needs a paid gym membership when a community fitness area is free, fun and you can visit when it’s best for your schedule?
- It’s a judgment-free zone. Everyone is there to play and have fun. You don’t need to worry about being instructed on which machines you should be using or for how long. It’s all up to you. As long as you’re having fun and being safe, you’re doing it right.
- You can work out with loved ones. Bring your kids, grandkids and friends so you can have fun and socialize while all of you get physically active.
- You can use your loved ones as motivation. When you see other people working out, a healthy dose of friendly competition will kick in. Who will earn bragging rights at the dinner table this evening?
When engaging in physical activity at a fitness park, be sure to follow posted instructions and illustrations to help you prevent injury. Always stretch before and after exercising, and stick to equipment that conforms to your abilities. If you have problems with balance, for example, don’t use any equipment that requires maintaining balance so you can avoid a fall.
If you’re looking for a place where fitness meets fun, look no further than a multigenerational fitness area, where everyone can have a great time while getting fit.
Designing a playground for all means going beyond ADA requirements and building a playground that is wheelchair accessible. An inclusive playground involves:
- Creating paths that are wide enough for anyone to walk or roll between pieces of playground equipment
- Building quiet, cozy areas for anyone who may need a little space if they become overwhelmed
- Including special needs play equipment with other equipment so that everyone can play together rather than separately
- Using surfacing compatible with wheelchairs, crutches and any other devices for mobility
- Building equipment that can be used by everyone and has multiple uses
When a playground includes accessible equipment, every child benefits. Kids with different abilities don’t need to worry about whether they can navigate the playground and have fun because the equipment and layout of the playground were created with them in mind. As there are more parents and grandparents who have disabilities than children who have disabilities, an accessible playground is imperative for them, too. Adults with mobility issues won’t have to worry about whether they can go to the playground with their kids and have fun together.
Kids and adults who don’t face those same challenges can socialize and connect with peers of all different backgrounds. This helps them develop empathy for anyone who may be different from them. Learning how to socialize and cooperate with people of all backgrounds and abilities will prepare kids for the diversity they’ll encounter in future situations like work and school.
Little Tikes Commercial offers many activity options that focus on inclusive play:
- The Activity Panels: Activity panels allow kids to express themselves and explore. They can learn about sound and rhythm through music or about hand coordination by moving steering wheels.
- The Rock’n Ship Glider: This glider is wheelchair-accessible and uses a mild swaying motion.
- The Talk Tube: The Talk Tube gives kids the chance to step away from the playground’s commotion and play one-on-one.
- The Ramps with Double Rails: These ramps provide turning areas for wheelchairs, transfer stations, and gripping support.
- The Therapeutic Rings: Our therapeutic rings give users the chance to stretch their arms and develop their upper body strength. Through this exercise, users can improve their mobility.
Playgrounds From Little Tikes Commercial
A multigenerational recreational space can attract more visitors and enhance the community’s quality of life by encouraging people to get active and socialize with their family, friends and neighbors. When you follow the principles for multigenerational design, you’ll ensure that every visitor attains the physical, social, emotional and cognitive benefits that your recreational area provides.
At Little Tikes Commercial, we offer freestanding activities for preschoolers, fitness equipment and inclusive playgrounds to suit your community’s needs. We work to make sure we produce high-quality, durable play spaces that will keep every playground safe for all visitors.
If you’re interested in working with an experienced manufacturer of multigenerational playgrounds that are inclusive and promote fitness, contact Little Tikes Commercial today.