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Playground Safety is a year-long commitment!

April 26th, 2013 — 9:00am

What a great week it’s been!  I hope you’ve joined us on Facebook and Twitter to help spread the word about the importance of playground safety – and about making sure your community or school playground equipment and surfacing is IPEMA certified. One of the most important things about this week, however, is making sure that playground safety is a year long commitment.


The conditions of playground equipment and surfacing can change quickly. They can suffer from storm damage, vandalism, fire or other sudden natural or man-made events. Other less severe but problematic conditions can develop quickly as well – things like the overnight appearance of broken glass or nails; users kicking away loose-fill surfacing to below minimum protective depths; sand or pea stone tracked onto hard surfaces and creating a slip hazard.


It’s a wise practice to have routine, early safety and maintenance inspections of playgrounds to ensure they are unbroken, functional, clean and hazard-free before children arrive. With proper maintenance procedures, you can help make sure your playground stays as safe as possible. Play on!

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We’re “Having a Ball” on Facebook and Twitter!

April 24th, 2013 — 9:00am
In February, IPEMA and the Voice of Play were honored to be a sponsor of the US Conference on the Value of Play. We blogged about it then – hope you caught our blogs – and are excited to discuss one of the surprises we received at the Conference.
The Voice of Play was a lucky recipient of a donation of 25 playground balls from Kevin Carroll, one of the Conference’s most inspirational keynote speakers. Kevin’s keynote addressed the way a ball literally changed his life – by helping him make friends on a playground near his grandparent’s house in Philadelphia. Kevin’s message was powerful – it’s no wonder he’s consulted for many of the world’s most recognized brands, including Nike, ESPN, Starbucks, The NHL and NBA and The Walt Disney Company.
We believe in Kevin, and in his mission, and we’re going to #playitforward by re-donating his gift to one lucky Voice of Play friend via social media. Check us out on Facebook and/or Twitter to find out how you can enter. Hurry! The promotion ends this Friday, April 26 at 12:00am ET.

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Playtime Gift & Activity Guide

December 17th, 2012 — 12:00pm

As the holiday spirit begins to take over and we begin to take some time off for the holidays, you might be frantically trying to find a Turboman like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film “Jingle All the Way.” Or you could be finding great gifts as you shop around for your little ones.


The most important thing to remember this holiday season is that many children are fascinated with whatever you will get them—you don’t always have to spoil a child with an iPad or the latest and greatest from FAO Schwartz.


Here are some great gifts and activities that will offer your child opportunities to play and learn this holiday season.


Some of our favorites:

  • Jump rope, roller blades, hula hoop—To get your kids moving, gift them some fun and active toys that they can play with.
  • Build a fort!–Wasn’t this always the best as a kid? Use couch cushions, blankets, or whatever else you can imagine! Add hot chocolate for a bonus!
  • Garden tool set—this is a great idea if you don’t mind getting messy indoors. Set up shop with indoor plants and flowers and let the indoor garden decorations begin!
  • Picnic time—set up a picnic indoors and make a special cuisine for a non-traditional picnic.
  • Hide and seek geocache—Gear up to get outdoors and have some adventurous play. This gift will allow children to have weeks and weeks of fun looking for treasures using a GPS system to help them learn and navigate.


Check out some of the complete lists of gifts and learning fun here:



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Kid at Heart

August 31st, 2012 — 11:00am

By: Laura Shore

I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and was lucky to have a large backyard, with lots of trees, greenery and a swing set. Naturally, this gave way to me spending an extensive amount of time outdoors, whether I was just lying in the grass, gardening or going to a playground at the park– which was always a monumental affair. Playgrounds seem to create a spark that brings out excitement in children. And wouldn’t I love to be a kid today–with the amazing advancements in play equipment and technology.

I remember attending natural playground castles fully composed of wood; fun to explore, but nothing like the IPEMA-certified sets that are built today. I remember when the metal slides were sun-baked and stung your legs a little on the way down.

I recently came to learn that my childhood playground received a make-over. I was so excited to see what the designers and installers had made of my special childhood place.

The playground was designed and installed by Burke Premier Play Environments, an IPEMA-certified product line that has only the best for the children who now attend my old elementary school.

Vinyl slides, impact softening mulch, and gleaming blue, fresh painted monkey bars were put in place for children to enjoy. Compared to the old playground, the new playground is a much needed upgrade in terms of safety, but also for children’s learning abilities.


The old playground at my elementary school
Source: Cranberry Patch


The new textures and colors added to the structure alone will expand a child’s experience while playing. I am super excited for the school year to start so these children will be able to learn and play in a new environment. Hopefully, it will become well-used, loved and a lasting part of their childhood memories!



The new playground under construction
Source: Cranberry Patch



What are some of your favorite childhood memories from the playground? Is there a playground in your area that has been recently updated?

Let your child explore a new play area this weekend! Tell us about it and have a wonderfully happy Labor Day!


Source: Back to School: Haine Elementary Gets New Playground

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A PSA for Parents

August 21st, 2012 — 1:40pm

By: Shaquela Myrick


Attention: Our children are becoming better connected to online websites and games than their neighborhood friends.

     Could your child’s technology obsession instead of playing at the playground outside with friends be hurting them? From the blog, “Reality Check- Blogging About Parenting Issues and the Solutions to Solve Them” Dr. Michele Borba identified how kids of this generation interact. Key findings reflect what many of us known for some time – that the amount of free time for play is decreasing at alarming rates. This study specifically cited that since the late 1970s there’s been a 25% drop in our children’s free play and a 50% drop in unstructured outdoor activities and since the late 1970s kids’ time in organized, adult-supervised sports has doubled and the number of minutes devoted each week to passive leisure, not including watching television, has increased from 30 minutes to more than three hours. The doctor also found that the average U.S. child is now “plugged-in” to some kind of digital device–not including cell phone and text–7 1/2 hours a day. Take the quiz below to see if your kids (or you yourself!) could be ‘play deprived’:
• How much are you kids plugged into some kind of digital device?
• How often are your kids glued to that TV or clicking that keypad?
• How often do your kids go outdoors to just recompress?
• Do your kids know how to entertain themselves solo an adult, coach, teacher or you whether it be indoors or outdoors?
• Do your kids enjoy the great outdoors?

     Play creates joyful memories for our children. Make sure their memories include laughter and fun not television screens, cords and buttons.


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Imagination Stations for Kids

August 10th, 2012 — 2:51pm

By: Shaquela Myrick

When I was growing up, I was one of those “army brats” who didn’t care for cheerleading, softball or other organized sports and chose to either stay home or be in the “action” on the field with my parents. My parents were sergeants in the military and every year we moved to different places around the country – making it difficult for me to stick with a particular program and develop skills specific to those activities. Despite my begging to join the front lines like mom and dad, my parents refused to dress me in camouflage and send me off. Instead, every summer, my mom would invite the neighborhood children to our home, wherever in the country that may have been, and would transform our backyard into themed imagination stations in an attempt to break my shell.
I was a very shy person as a child and these events offered a fun chance to interact and socialize with my peers. Parents, I encourage you to take advantage of the resources around you to help build play opportunities for your kids. Your backyard can be transformed with just a little imagination. Enjoy these five backyard friendly tips and watch their creativity flow with these great backyard activities.
1. Play outside in the rain. Don’t be afraid to get messy with the kids. Smell the rain on the pavement; splash in puddles and make mud pies.
2. Have a backyard campout or create a beach in your backyard with play sand and buckets. Build a farm with blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes and flowers from your local farmer’s market. Arrange the produce in the backyard and let the kids pick the sweet treats themselves.
3. Climb trees together. Of course, only take on this challenge if the kids are old enough and you are brave enough!
4. Ay Ay Maytee! Host a treasure hunt. Invite the neighborhood kids to the backyard to find odd items from the house.
5. Play HORSE. Lace up and place a mini basketball net next to the real one with the little team.

Summer isn’t over yet. Take the play pledge today!


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Five Gifts Dad Won’t Ever Forget

June 14th, 2012 — 8:25pm

This weekend, everyone from kids to adults will be celebrating Dad. And while many of you may be scrambling to the stores for that perfect last minute gift, it is important to remember that the best gift a father can receive on his big day is the time and company of those he loves most – his family.

We hope you’ll celebrate Father’s Day this year with an outdoor family activity – after all, it is Great Outdoors Month.

Here are five ideas for outdoor family fun this Father’s Day:

1. Visit Your Local Playground – From a push on the swing to a friendly parents vs. kids game of basketball, the playground offers something for every family. It will also provide a day of exercise and probably lead to some memories that Dad won’t soon forget.

2. Go On A Nature Hike – Wherever you live, the great outdoors probably aren’t too far away. With a little bug spray, some sunscreen and plenty of bottled water, a nature hike can be a great way to take a break from a plugged-in life and see the many wonders the wild has to offer. While you’re out there, take some time to look at the different types of trees, watch the birds and listen to the harmonious sounds of the wilderness.

3. Picnic in the Park – Your local parks and recreation centers probably offer plenty of pavilions and green space for a delicious, homemade meal outdoors. So, whether you grill up some steaks on the available fire pits or have a blanket picnic beneath a shady tree, an afternoon or evening in the park will provide Dad with a meal he will always remember.

4. Bust Out the Bicycles – Whether you live in a city or a small town, there are probably plenty of safe places for your family to enjoy an afternoon bike ride. Cycling can be a great way to experience nature and it also provides great exercise for the entire family!

5. Get On the Water – Maybe you have a boat or maybe there is a canoe livery or guided kayaking tour center near you, but any way you spin it – experiencing the outdoors on a lake, river or ocean near you can provide a thrilling experience for the whole family and great memories for Dad.

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Tips and Tricks for a Better, Safer Summer at the Playground

May 31st, 2012 — 7:34pm

With Memorial Day behind us and students at schools across the United States either out for the summer or counting the days to go, the best time of year to experience the playground – the summer season – is upon us. While the weather is kind, daylight is abundant and the days seem to be a little more carefree, there are still a few measures that can improve playground safety and overall health for your children.

Here are some tips to keep the swings moving for your family this year:

1. Keep kids hydrated – Taking water with you to the playground is a great way to prevent dehydration and keep kids energized. If your kids don’t like to drink plain water, you may try sweetening it with some lemon or lime. Experts recommend offering children water six times a day – even if they say they aren’t thirsty – to ensure hydration. Children who are becoming dehydrated often suffer from fatigue and irritability. (Source: Kaboose)


2. Respect the sun – Like a trip to the beach, a trip to the playground should not be taken without sunscreen. The CDC recommends a minimum of SPF 15 with UVA and UVB protection for children, which should be applied to exposed skin 30 minutes before a venture outside. You should also take the bottle with you to the playground and apply it several times throughout the day. Other measures for preventing sunburns include playing in shady areas, covering up exposed skin and wearing a hat and sunglasses. (Source: Centers for Disease Control)

3. Check for hot equipment surfaces – It’s no secret that – when exposed to the summer sun – playground equipment surfaces can become hot, causing a jolt of discomfort for children. By checking the heat of equipment surfaces with your hand and advising children what areas of the equipment are cool enough to play on, you can prevent any early exits from playtime. You may also want to dress younger children in long pants or bring an old pillow case or small blanket for them to sit on while going down slides. (Source: Landscape Online)

4. Play during the coolest hours – Early afternoon is typically the hottest segment of the day, so by using playgrounds in the morning and evening, you and your kids can experience play during the nicest hours summer has to offer, while also lowering other playground risks in the process.
(Source: Landscape Online)

With a little effort, there is no doubt that summer is the best season to go to the playground and experience outdoor play. We hope you’ll get up, get out and enjoy everything the season has to offer, while also making some great memories with your children on the playground this year!

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A Growing Initiative for a Growing Problem: National Kids to Parks Day is May 19

May 17th, 2012 — 8:10pm

On Saturday, the National Park Trust, in conjunction with Let’s Move!, will host the second annual National Kids to Parks Day, featuring unique events at parks across the country.

According to a news release from the National Park Trust, 61,000 individuals have pledged to play outdoors on this day and 228 mayors in 45 states have passed resolutions of support.

Grace Lee, the executive director of NPT, was quoted in the press release saying, “We want to encourage children across the country to explore their neighborhood parks and discover the history, nature and adventure right around the corner or just across town. The Summer season is the time to be outdoors and have fun.”

This wonderful initiative, which began last year, is aimed at improving park attendance and decreasing national obesity rates by calling citizens to local parks.

With recent research suggesting that 42 percent of Americans could be obese by 2030, it is now more important than ever to promote the benefits of outdoor play in our parks and playgrounds.

This annual day of events is a great way to showcase all that local parks have to offer citizens – including amazing, inspiring playgrounds for kids to exercise their bodies, minds, emotions and spirits. Conveniently, outdoor free play is also a solution to help decrease obesity. We join NPT in celebrating national parks, state parks, and local parks and playgrounds and hope to encourage more free play at parks for households across the nation.

At Voice of Play, we hope this campaign helps inspire more frequent outdoor play for families all year long and that, eventually, this spark of interest will soon lead to each and every day becoming a “Kids to Parks” day.

Learn more about the National Kids to Parks Day events happening in your area:

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The Social Benefits of Play

April 30th, 2012 — 4:01pm

Over the past few weeks, we discussed the physical and emotional benefits of play and the importance of a daily activity level in bringing out the best of each.. This week we shift our focus to the social benefits of play.


1. Group Interaction
When playing in groups, kids learn social roles and cultural rules, develop appropriate cooperation skills, and learn a shared system of symbols, including verbal and body language. When children develop and test relationships, they learn self-control, compromise and negotiation skills. Kids also learn survival skills, independence and acceptable group activities to build on as they grow up. Voice of Play


2. Connecting to Others
On the playground, children learn to interact and respond to other children, as well as strengthen and create friendships. “They will learn to be sensitive to other’s needs and perspectives when engaging in play, and thus learn to negotiate and compromise when their perspectives or needs are in conflict with those of their friends. Play will often require individuals to work together, and through this cooperation children will learn to share with others.” Indiana University


3. Dealing With Conflicts in a Safe Place
“It is important to create an environment and social climate that protects children and allows them to play without fear. Because play is the way children learn about the world and how to deal with conflicts, they should feel secure and comfortable in their surroundings, and have opportunities to freely play in order to calm their fears and anxieties. Children develop best in the context of a caring community where they are safe and valued, their physical needs are met, and they feel psychologically secure.”
Kathleen Alfano, Ph.D.


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