Creative Playground…by ARHuelsenbeck

One of my fondest childhood memories is of the hours I spent at the playground in the park near my New Jersey home in the 1950s. Two ancient swing sets stood in the shade of mature trees, their massive wooden seats fastened to the crossbar not by chains, but by rigid iron bars with hooks on both ends. They let out a satisfying metallic screech as each arcing motion reached its zenith.

The mountainous silver-surfaced slide had a huge bump about halfway down, which made us kids scream with delight—except when the hot summer sun shone directly on it, and you burned your bottom. Sometimes the slide was “slow,” and you’d stick to it. An enterprising child would run home for a sheet of waxed paper and wax the slide by riding down it a few times while sitting on the waxed paper.

There were seesaws, too—wooden planks that teetered on a horizontal pipe. I didn’t like them—if your partner suddenly jumped off, your end of the board came down hard on the ground.

With the simplest equipment, we kids were able to have lots of fun. However, I am blown away by the imaginative playgrounds built today.


I love the organic look of this wooden structure. Photo by Martin Vorel.


Adventure Playground in High Park, Toronto, assembled by volunteers. Can you imagine playing in that castle? Unfortunately, the castle was destroyed in a fire. Photograph by Alaney2k.

ship playstructure in Estonia

“Ship” play structure in Estonia. Photo by Jaanus Silla.


Suspension bridge. Photo by Nino Barbieri.


Vivo City playground. In a shopping mall in Singapore. Photo by William Cho.


This playground is located at Yachthafenresidenz Hohe Düne (Yacht Harbor Residence High Dune) at the Baltic Sea, Rostock, Mecklenburg, Germany. Photo by Beauwell.

To my way of thinking, these beautiful playgrounds could only enhance imaginative play.

But the truth is, many of today’s children spend more time in virtual play than on an actual physical playground. Does it matter?

In the United States, elementary schools are pressured to devote more time to instruction in order for children to perform better on standardized tests. In that high-stakes environment, recess and physical education look like wasted time. But are they? Evidence suggests that students who have ample opportunity to move and play actually concentrate better and learn more with less effort because their brains and bodies are refreshed.

Playgrounds need not be expensive propositions. It’s possible to build beautiful play structures out of inexpensive, easily obtainable materials assembled by volunteers.

For more information on play and to see more examples of well-designed playgrounds, visit these websites:

In the olden days, many parents were with their children much of the day. Many parents worked in the home, some came home for the lunch hour. In a simpler time, children went off to play in the neighborhood with their friends.

Today’s parents have complex occupational requirements that prevent them from spending the day with their kids, and they may not be comfortable with them being outside and out of sight. Certainly, we are aware of the danger of children not being supervised. Yet, in those precious off-work hours parents might not have the time or energy for a trip to the playground.

What do you think? Do you like the play spaces in this article? Are modern playgrounds a waste or a necessity? How do we balance children’s outside play with their safety? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.
This entry was posted in Creativity, Doing Life Together, Play and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Creative Playground…by ARHuelsenbeck

  1. dgood648 says:

    Kids?? I could escape in these playgrounds!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Linda Carlblom says:

    Adults often forget that young children learn the most through play. As they grow, learning must be balanced with play to get the best results. Adults could benefit from more play time as well. It relieves stress, clears the mind, and makes you ready for your work again. I love the new playgrounds, but the old were just as effective. Children’s imaginations can make anywhere a fun place to play.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Funny how back in the day we liked the push pull wings and everything else on the playground.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. slfinnell says:

    When we had construction on our home/daycare, we had some vandals come and destroy several tubs of toys. Guess they thought they were going to find tools or gold?? Anyway, we haven’t replaced many of those and chose instead to go with natural items like gardening, sand, dirt piles, etc. This has been extremely profound to my parents involved in bringing their children here. However, the mother in law still goes out shopping for us. Just bought a sand water table and picnic table the other day. Can’t seem to accept this change I guess lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrea R Huelsenbeck says:

      Maybe the vandals were six years old? (In which case they certainly found treasure!) The sand and water table sounds great–so does the picnic table. At our first house, my husband built a large sand box which we stocked with strainers, shovels, kitchen measuring cups, and a hands-and-legs-powered digging machine. I even liked playing in there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • slfinnell says:

        That’s a funny thought 😊 My blog namesake (Katy trail ) is a avenue for all sorts of “wildlife”. Furry and otherwise. We will go with the 6 year old scenario for peace of mind.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading it! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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