Indoor and Outdoor Play Center

Indoor and Outdoor Play Center


Indoorand Outdoor Play Center

Indoorand Outdoor Play Center

Playis very important in the development of children. Children should beprovided with an opportunity to play and have fun. Children play withtoys and other playing equipments for fun. However, they have acritical role in children development and learning process. Throughplay, children are able to learn about the world and themselves. Achild who is not exposed to adequate play does not grow and developproperly. Through play, children are able to learn problem solvingskills, socialize and get along with other children and playmates anddevelop motor skills necessary for growth and development (Spencer &ampWright, 2014). Therefore, a medical facility that provides long termcare to children requires both indoor and outdoor play centers.Children in hospital and other medical facilities need playfacilities for social, physical, cognitive and emotional development.

Aproper design of an outdoor and indoor play center in a long termchildren healthy facility is essential for health and wellness of theyoung patients. A good design is associated with higher physicalactivities and learning opportunities for the children. Although bothindoor and outdoor play is necessary in a long term care childrenfacilities, outdoor facilities have higher impact in childrendevelopment. Children who have regular outdoor play sessions are morephysically fit and better emotional, social and cognitive skills.These facilities should be intentionally designed to motivate playand physical activities among children. A key feature in a childrenplay center is a welcoming atmosphere for the young patients (Spencer&amp Wright, 2014). According to DeBord et al (2005), when designingplay spaces, both indoor and outdoor, one should ensure that they are“clean, friendly and inviting, with appropriate storage so thatmaterials are organized and easily used by staff and children”. Theplay center should be considered as an extension of the classroomsuch that it provides a favorable environment for learning byensuring that it is welcoming and trustful. It is important to notethat children are more comfortable in a playing environment with bothnatural and manufactured materials. Blending both natural materialsand equipments especially in outdoor play stations promotes safetyand maximizes the learning experiences.

Criticalequipments and materials that should be includes in the indoor andoutdoor play stations includes

Multipurposeopen spaces: The most important aspects of a play center in a long term childrencare facility is a multipurpose open space. This gives children anopportunity to engage in essential physical activities such asjumping, running, jogging and rolling among others. Some of themanipulative equipments that can be incorporated in the open playspaces include balls, robes, beanbags and simple toys. Within theplay center, both indoor and outdoor open spaces should be includes.Activities in the open spaces are very essential in social,cognitive, emotional and physical development. For example, byplaying with balls, children gain physical fitness, develop social,emotional and cognitive skills through increased interaction andcooperation with other children in the play. Additionally, the openspaces create a home environment in the long term care facility whichenables the child cope with the changes in their lives. This isbecause they are used to open spaces and confined spaces may havesignificant effects on their emotional and physical development. Itis also important to note that children form emotional bond withparents, siblings and friends through direct interaction and play.Multipurpose open spaces in long term care facilities create afavorable environment for children to play and interact with friendsand family. For example, large and open sand play areas provide spacefor children to explore and interact with peers, siblings and family.The sand play areas should have diverse landscape which promotesimagination and creativity. This ensures that children living in longterm care facilities have an access to similar play areas withchildren living in normal environment. Other essential features thatcan be incorporated in the open spaces include water play features.Water play features such as fountains, temporary hose, ponds andpools provide children with opportunity to explore (Spencer &ampWright, 2014). However, it is important to note that since childrenin these facilities are probably sick or suffering from some form ofmedical condition, the water play features and other play equipmentsshould have provision for close supervision.

Anchoredplay equipment:Anchored equipments are very essential features of a play center.They include climbing and sliding equipments, swings and springriders. These equipments are more appropriate for outdoor playcenters. These facilities ensure that children are physically fit andteach them social skills such as sharing and cooperation. An exampleis essential anchored play equipments that would be necessary in theplay center include balancing equipment such as beam balance andstepping stones (Spencer &amp Wright, 2014). These equipments buildphysical skills such as balance. Structures such as play housesenable children to develop social skills such as socialization andcommunication skills. Rolling and sliding equipment enhances motorskills. These equipments are also essential in initiatingimaginations and creativity, which promotes cognitive development.

Naturalelements:The quality and attractiveness of the play center will be largelyinfluenced by the variety of natural elements in the indoor andoutdoor play spaces. Some of the natural elements in the indoorfacility may include trees, natural grass, water, flowering plants,varying topography and peddles. Depending on the nature of the indoorfacility, natural elements such as natural lighting and shrubs canalso be incorporated (Spencer &amp Wright, 2014). The naturalelements promote adventure and creativity which essential for social,physical, cognitive and emotional development. There are severallessons that children can learn from gardens with flowering plantsand vegetables. Growing vegetables and flowers teaches childrensocial skills such as patience and responsibility as well ascognitive skills such as life cycles. For example, family andcommunity involvement in taking care of the gardens in the outdoorplay are teaches children in the facility about voluntary work.

Wheeledtoys:Wheeled toys such as scooters, bicycles and tricycles and other pushand pull toys are very attractive to young children. A typical playcenter should have facilities that support the use of these wheeledtoys (Spencer &amp Wright, 2014). There are numerous developmentmilestones that children can achieve from playing with wheeled toys.By playing with wheeled toys, children are able to role play, developsocial skills through working in groups and challenge their physicaland cognitive abilities.

Musicand movement play areas: Thereare several lessons and skills that children can learn through musicand dancing. This includes social, physical, cognitive and emotionalskills. Additionally, music enables children in long care facilitiesto relax, which is essential in coping and adapting to the newenvironment (Murray, 2012). Music and dancing equipment can beincorporated in both indoor and outdoor play areas. For example, inthe outdoor play areas, long drums, chimes and other instruments canbe included. In the indoor play areas, electronics can be installedto play various types of music depending on the occasion.

Studiessuggest that children of all ages, including sick children in longterm care facilities require play for normal development. Both indoorand outdoor play facilities play a critical role in social,intellectual, physical and emotional development. Children in longterm care should not be put at a disadvantage due to their healthycondition. The design of health facilities housing children, whetherin long term care or short term care should incorporate the specialneeds of children by including both indoor and outdoor playfacilities. While facilities housing children in the short term mayhave relatively less inclusive play facilities, long term carefacilities should have all inclusive indoor and outdoor facilities.This is due to the long period of time children are likely to spendin these facilities. While incorporating play equipment in childrenmedical facilities, it is important to note that safety of thechildren is paramount. The design of both indoor and outdoorfacilities should be cognizant of the fact that the facilities willbe used by children. This requires due diligence and common sense.Additionally, the design should consider the various ages and skillsof children using the play facilities (Kern and Wakeford, 2007,Thompson et al, 2007). In case there are regulatory requirement, thedesign must consider the provisions of the law. Various governmentaland non governmental agencies and organization provide adequateinformation on children safety in indoor and outdoor play facilities.


DeBord,K. et al. (2005). Preschooloutdoor environment measurement scale (POEMS: An assessment tool forevaluating the quality of outdoor environment in childcare centersfor children 3-5 years old.Winston Salem, NC: Kaplan Early Learning.

Kern,P. &amp Wakeford, L. (2007). “Supporting outdoor play for youngchildren: The zone model of playground supervision”. YoungChildren62(5): 12-18.

Murray,C. (2012). A stage for the playground: AN outdoor music center.”Teachingyoung children,6(1), p 12-15.

Spencer,K. H., &amp Wright, P. M. (2014). Quality Outdoor Play Spaces forYoung Children. YoungChildren,69(5), 28-34

Thompson,D. et al (2007). SAFEplay area creation, maintenance and renovation.Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.