Spring brings increased opportunity for outside play. It is a good time to check outdoor active play areas. Check and fix indoor active play areas too. The design and maintenance of large muscle play areas should provide risk-taking opportunities that are not likely to cause serious harm. The most common and most severe injuries in child care occur during active play.
Outdoor areas can be multi-purpose. They can accommodate activities that build a variety of skills: small muscle movement, literacy, numeracy, science and appreciation of nature. They should be a place for daily moderate to vigorous physical activity. For safety, be sure to divide different types of activities to maintain safe distances between them. As much as possible, design safety into the active play area rather than rely on supervision. Then concentrate supervision in active play areas where risk-taking is likely or encouraged.
Instead of expensive climbing equipment that requires high levels of maintenance and supervision, you can make a low cost climber by using a hill of sand or grass over dirt. A hill challenges children to use a variety of climbing skills and gross motor experiences. Indoors or outdoors, give children tunnels, low level obstacle courses, and surfaces to practice walking in a straight line. A big cardboard appliance box with all sharp edges removed makes a no cost tunnel. Use plastic hoops and ribbons in patterns or chalk on a sidewalk for an obstacle course or a board on the ground to practice balance.