School playgrounds often look a lot different these days than they used to. Swings, slides, and jungle gyms still play their part, but many schools are adding new unique elements to engage kids during playtime.
These are some of our favorite school playgrounds, with features like sensory paths, outdoor stages, and water walls. (Some of these won’t be practical during COVID-19 social distancing, but you can make plans now to create these incredible spaces for the future.) Get ready to be inspired!
1. Build outdoor playhouses
Kids will get a kick out of playing house or imagining these structures as stores, museums, and more. (Those flower planters are especially amazing!)
Source: House of Wonder
2. Map the world
Paint enormous maps of your state, country, or even the world. You can buy stencils to make the process a snap, especially with lots of volunteers to help.
3. Lay out a sensory path
Give kids a place to run races, measure their jumps, and so much more. Sensory paths are easy to create and so fun for kids to use.
Source: Carpark Lining
4. Play giant games
Install life-sized versions of favorite games to occupy students’ minds and bodies. (Find more ideas here.)
Source: Free Association Design
5. Travel to space
Future astronauts will enjoy blasting off to visit the planets of our solar system. You could also add constellations and other celestial bodies.
Source: First 4 Playgrounds
6. Install a climbing wall
Climbing walls are popping up on school playgrounds everywhere, and kids couldn’t be happier! They’re such a fun way to work on hand-eye coordination and balance.
7. Offer a Buddy Bench
Buddy Benches are another popular feature on school playgrounds these days. When a student wants someone to play with, they take a seat on the bench as an invitation for other kids to join them. What a fantastic idea!
Source: Buddy Bench
8. Draw on outdoor blackboards
Artistic kids adore scribbling on the blacktop with sidewalk chalk. If your playground doesn’t have enough paved space, try adding blackboard areas along walls or fences instead.
9. Build a stage
Budding thespians and performing artists can star in their own productions during recess! A space like this is also ideal for outdoor classrooms.
Source: Playground Imagineering
10. Paint game boards
Kids will be lining up to take their turn on these playground games. Try chess or checker boards too, or even a big game of chutes and ladders!
Source: How to Paint Asphalt Games
11. Ride on mini streets
Give kids a chance to learn and practice the rules of the road. Tracks like these are perfect for bikes, trikes, scooters, and more.
Source: Kids Around Perth
12. Feature famous artists
We’re in love with this twist on a sensory path. Each section is painted in the style of a different well-known artist like Matisse, Monet, and Kandinsky. Check out more details at the link.
Source: Marina Goulart Studio
13. Aim for the target
Students will find all sorts of ways to play with this giant target. Beanbags, stones, even a running leap … there are so many ways to aim for the bullseye!
14. Set up a junk orchestra
Plastic tubs, PVC and metal pipes, and other items become musical instruments in kids’ hands. Young percussionists are going to get a kick out of this idea!
Source: Creative Star Learning
15. Put old tires to good use
School playgrounds have long included tires of various sizes. Be creative in their setup, and add some paint for lots of vivid color.
Source: TYRE Playground
16. Make a water wall
Kids always like a chance to splash around in the water. A water wall like this one lets them experiment and play with gravity and physics too.
Source: Sophie Gent/Pinterest
17. Make it natural
Nature provides a sense of peace and calm that many students need throughout the school day. Incorporate elements like plants, stumps, and trees into your playground to create organic play spaces.
Source: Design Concepts
18. Balance through a maze
Every kid seems to see a raised curb as their own personal balance beam, right? Try adding a series of raised planks and steps to your playground for them to enjoy.
Source: Jenny Loves Benny
Looking for more playground ideas? Try these 25 Old-School Recess Games Your Students Should Be Playing Now.
Plus, 11 Ways Kids Can Still Have Recess At Home.