Play lets children exercise their creativity and imagination. It also teaches them to share, to negotiate and to compromise, all skills that will prove invaluable once they leave the playground. Play sets of some kind have been around for a long time, perhaps as long as there have been kids to play on them.
The colorful, phantasmagorical playscape installation at the Hakone Open Air Museum in Japan pictured above from Kids Web Japan is an example of how far the idea of play sets has come. It’s probably not an option for most backyards, but you won’t need anything nearly this radical to provide a rich play experience for your kids.
Here’s a picture taken on a New York rooftop in 1900. It includes one of the earliest playground slides in the world, according to the folks over at Playground Designs. It probably has more hard surfaces and sharp edges than we’re comfortable with today, but it was a good start.
Danish firm Monstrum created these surreal play set “storyscapes” above. The slightly surreal concepts make them as much aesthetic experiences as they are places for climbing and sliding.
Of course, having a play set in your own backyard is about as cool as it gets when you’re a kid, and no high concept is required. As long as there’s something safe to climb, swing or slide on, a child’s body and mind will be fully engaged. This Lifetime Adventure Play Set is a popular model that’s durable, and easy to set up.
If you’re feeling creative, though, you could pick up some lumber, break out the tools and build a play set like this one we spotted on Zen Seeker. The website is a great place to find plans for do-it-yourself play sets to match your backyard space and budget.
Our Places series on the Apron Blog looks at the types of decor, materials and layouts that make the places we live beautiful, comfortable and interesting.