When I imagine how I’d like my children’s play spaces to be, I always think of “The Overprotected Kid” by Hanna Rosin. Part terrifying, part exhilarating, but completely empowering, this adventure playground in North Wales would be a dream-come-true for my five-year-old. There are old mattresses to jump on, fires to start, loose tires to roll, and wooden pallets to stack.
Is this just a glorified junkyard or nature in an urban sense? Either way, kids get similar benefits from this playground as the ones they’d get from playing in “real” nature. They play with loose parts, inspiring creativity and invention. They get to be outside, connecting with the world, with earth and sky. They work with other kids in child-directed play, which promotes independence and provides opportunities for social and emotional development. They spin, splash, and slide, engaging their senses and getting the strong sensory input that children crave.
Would you let your kids play here? I’d take this over iPads, desks-and-chairs, and worksheets any day.
I’d love to start a list of adventure playgrounds in other areas (even if they are not as elaborate as this one). If you know of any, leave a note in the comments.