When planning your playground makeover, you’ll be looking for ways to really make the most of both your space, and your funds. At first glance, it makes sense to pick something big and sprawling, like a sports court or an exercise track. Maybe you’ve opted for a carefully curated collection of smaller playground marking games, such as a hopscotch, a snakes-and-ladders board or Duck, Duck, Goose.
They look great, work well together and give children a decent selection of games to choose from — but there might be something…missing. Maybe there’s gaps between them, not quite big enough for another thermoplastic marking but small enough that it feels a bit like wasted space.
This is where we can take a closer look at the finer details. The unsung heroes of playground markings. Their simplicity is their superpower, and they’re a clever and cost effective way to fill any awkward gaps.
But what’s exciting about a bunch of different coloured circles? Well, instead of committing to a single, specific purpose, these adaptable markings invite children to invent their own games, rules, and narratives. They can be anything. A circle can transform from a fairy ring to a spaceship control panel. A base marking could serve as a safe zone in a game of tag today, and become a trading post in a make-believe marketplace tomorrow. This endless versatility maximises the use of your playground space, and also encourages children to use their creativity and imagination to turn something basic into something beautiful.
Excellent value for money.
Infinite play ideas.
Range of sizes and shapes to suit any playground.
Can be separated out or installed in groups.
Encourages imaginitive and creative play.
Playground Markings for Creative and Imaginative Play
Technically, any playground marking can be used to encourage imaginitive play, but it’s the simplicity and openness of certain designs that really hold the potential. They’re the cardboard boxes of the playground — plain and simple, the foundation for any number of original games and stories. Abstract markings, such as shapes, lines and simple patterns are great little gap-fillers, and are easily slotted in between other playground markings — within a safe distance of each other to ensure no collisions, of course. They’re made of hard-wearing non-slip thermoplastic material, are non-toxic and resistant to UV light, meaning they’ll stay bright and vibrant for longer.
The adaptability of these markings also has a hand in making them inclusive. Children of all ages and abilities can interpret and interact with them in ways that are the most meaningful and enjoyable to them. They can tailor them to their play styles and their interests and continue to do so as these interests evolve. The circle never changes, but how the children see it is different every day.
Educational Creative Play
The scope for imagination isn’t just limited to the children. These creative playground markings can also be utilised by teachers. By integrating designs into lesson plans, teachers can create interactive learning experiences where the playground becomes an extension of the classroom. Circles and patterns can become the setting for a science class on ecosystems, with each area representing different habitats and the students acting out the roles of various animals.
Examples of Creaative Play using Playground Markings
For PE lessons, different colour circles could correspond with a different movement or action. This method not only encourages physical activity but also enhances cognitive learning, as children must remember and associate each colour with its specific movement, improving their memory and concentration skills.
Games and Creative Play Inspiration
Of course, the one of the many benefits of creative play is that anything goes. It really doesn't have to be structured, directed or influenced to be valuable. However, with that freedom comes a sort of level of....vagueness. If the possibilities are endless, then where do you start? Here's a few creative play examples to inspire you to get started:
Sometimes, less is more. You can stick them next to each other in pairs, group them together as part of an exercise track, use them to border your sports court — or embrace the chaos and place them anywhere you like!
Piggy in the Middle
In this classic game, one player—the 'Piggy'—stands between two others, attempting to catch or intercept a ball they toss back and forth. The objective is to keep the ball away from the Piggy, who, upon catching the ball, switches roles with the player who threw the caught ball. However, this playground marking has plenty more uses — Duck, Duck, Goose, simple throwing and catching exercises for PE, parachute games and more!
If you want something that encourages imaginitive play but also contains some more guided suggestions, the hexorcise bases are great. Magical islands in a vast ocean adventure, challenging kids to leap from one to another without touching the "water."
Alternatively, they can serve as excercise stations for a circuit training course, where each hexagon presents a different physical challenge, from hopping on one foot to performing a series of twists and turns. The simple addition of the word 'base' transforms these hexagons into pivotal elements of play, suggesting a sense of home, safety, or goal that can be woven into countless games and narratives. They can become safe havens in a game of tag, strategic points in a team-based game, or valuable territories in a make-believe world of adventure and exploration.
Not just for Four Square. A truly versatile sports court, where children can make up their own ball games, or enjoy a classic. It's a place where traditional sports meet the inventiveness of child's play, offering a blend of structured and spontaneous activities.
Design Tips for Promoting Creative Play in Playgrounds
Needless to say, designing a playground to encourage creative play goes beyond circles and squares. It’s about creating an overall environment that invites exploration and inspires imagination.
Incorporate a Variety of Textures and Colours The use of different colours and textures can help define different areas of the playground and stimulate sensory play — crucial for cognitive development. Utilise hard-wearing, non-slip thermoplastic materials that are not only safe and durable, but also come in a range of bright colours.
Create Zones for Diverse Play Styles Designate areas for different play styles. This can help prevent competition for space, and ensure that children of all temperaments can find a space where they feel comfortable and engaged. For example, a quiet corner with imaginative markings can provide a space for storytelling and role-playing, while more open areas with dynamic markings encourage physical activity games like 'base' or 'releaster'.
Use Abstract and Open-Ended Designs As we mentioned earlier, abstract markings such as shapes, lines, and simple patterns encourage children to use their imagination to fill in the blanks. These designs don't prescribe a specific way to play, allowing children to invent their own games and stories. This adaptability also makes the playground inclusive, enabling children of all ages and abilities to find joy and engagement in their own unique ways.
Consider Educational Potential Playground designs can be educational as well as fun. Integrate elements that can be used in learning activities, such as maps, clocks, and alphabets, without making them feel like classroom tools. This encourages learning through play, reinforcing lessons in a relaxed and enjoyable setting.
Prioritise Safety and Accessibility Ensure that all playground markings and designs follow safety guidelines, with adequate space between areas to prevent collisions. The playground should be accessible to children with disabilities, with designs that are enjoyable for everyone. Consider the visibility of markings to those with visual impairments and ensure that the layout accommodates children with physical disabilities.
By choosing adaptable playground markings, you invest in a playground that grows and evolves with the children who use it, offering endless opportunities for physical activity, learning, and fun. It's a reminder that sometimes, less is more, and the simplest ideas can lead to the most meaningful play experiences for children.
Whether you're looking to revamp your school's outdoor space or create a community playground that welcomes all children, Signet Play has the expertise and resources to bring your vision to life. Get in touch with us, or book a free site survey today.