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These 18 Awesome School Playgrounds Make Recess More Fun Than Ever

Turn every recess into an adventure!

School Playgrounds

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.

Source: Kaboom!

3. Lay out a sensory path

School Playgrounds Car Park

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

School Playgrounds Totem 2

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.

Source: Totem

7. Offer a Buddy Bench

School Playgrounds 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.

Source: TTS

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

School Playgrounds Martina Goulart Studio

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!

Source: Gymspiratie

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.

These 18 Awesome School Playgrounds Make Recess More Fun Than Ever

Posted by Jill Staake

Jill Staake is a writer living in Tampa, Florida. She's spent most of her life teaching in traditional classrooms and beyond, from 8th grade English to butterfly encounters, and believes learning is a life-long process.

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