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More than Just a Playground: 8 Ways EcoPlay Structures Act as Teaching Tools

So, you plan to take your children to the playground to burn some of that energy off, right? Well, the great news is that a playground from EcoPlay Structures provides so much more benefit to your children’s health than just running around and swinging from the overhead climbers. There are a multitude of essential life, leadership, and developmental skills children learn on the playground while they’re engaged in Planet Friendly Fun.

Here are 8 Ways EcoPlay Structures Act as Teaching Tools for Your Kids:

 

1. Flexible Thinking

Playing on the playground helps teach flexible thinking skills. For instance, learning to pivot in a new direction when planning to go to a certain slide and then realizing there are 5 kids waiting to go down the same slide. It’s crucial to their early development to recognize and understand roadblocks and how to approach things differently, take an alternate path, or come back to it later.

2. Conflict Navigation

Teaching kids how to navigate confrontation and express their emotions, whether someone cuts in front of them on the way to the clatter bridge or says something mean, is an essential early social skill. It promotes problem-solving, asking questions, and educates them about adversity. 

3. Safety First

Playground play is a great way to teach children about the importance of safety. From not going on a structure that is meant for older children to not wearing jewelry or very loose clothing, it’s a valuable time to have those conversations.

4. Early Cognitive Skills

EcoPlay Structures Play Panels teach children Forms and Shapes, Spatial Orientation, Depth and Size, recognizing themselves in mirrors for the very little ones and much more. They are the perfect complement to what children are learning at home and school, plus they are tons of fun!

5. How to Play Alone

Sometimes you visit the playground with your child early in the morning and you’re the only ones there. That’s a great thing! It is important for children to have unstructured play and to learn how to entertain themselves without always have a parent/teacher/friend/sibling around to interact with.

6. About the Earth

With EcoPlay Structures, you can include a lesson about the importance of using eco-friendly materials and doing your part to keep our planet clean. Take the time to talk about how EcoPlay play structures are made from clean, recycled HDPE plastics (such as milk jugs); then, look for craft projects using recycled milk jugs to keep the learning going!

7. Physical Strength & Coordination

The more children play, the stronger they become! Brachiating is when children swing from one arm to the next, i.e. on the overhead climbers. It has a ton of benefits, from improving depth perception to increasing flexibility and endurance. As children get stronger, their coordination improves, and they can do things faster. Their confidence grows, and they recognize how much they are growing while on the playground.

8. How to make friends!

Perhaps the best lesson of all. Children learn to find things in common with others, go out of their comfort zones and introduce themselves, and build their social skills when interacting with others. It also helps build confidence each time they have a positive interaction, and resilience when they have a negative one.

For additional information on the many benefits of playgrounds or to learn about our structures, in particular, be sure to follow our Facebook page and check back on the blog frequently.

National CleanUp Day is an annual event that takes place the third Saturday of September and is dedicated to encouraging everyone to commit to picking up even one piece of trash in their local community. This year’s event falls on September 21st, and it’s a wonderful day to teach children about the importance of their contributions in keeping the world around them beautiful.

The organization features several ways to participate, from creating your own event to joining one that has already been established. We’ve compiled simple ideas for National CleanUp Day contribution from the beach to the mountains along with ways you can implement positive daily civic-minded habits throughout the year.

7 Tips for National Cleanup Day Participation

  • Sign up to host a cleanup project through your office at a local park or nearby location you frequent and make it fun! Think Field Day for Adults – add in a competition for the most trash collected, best-dressed cleanup crew, etc.
  • Contact your children’s school PTA and recommend this as a school activity especially since it falls on a weekend
  • Make it personal by gathering a group of neighbors to clean up the local parks, city streets, fields, and other areas where children play
  • Join a local CleanUp Event that has already been formed by searching your area here
  • Spread the word! Share about #NationalCleanUpDay on social media in advance to let others know about the opportunities to participate
  • Adopt a trail for National Cleanup Day and beyond and get a group together to go “plogging” (picking up + jogging = a double win!)
  • September 21st or shortly thereafter, share photos of your group spreading the CleanUp joy and submit the details through the organization!

Cleaning Up Starts at Home

Parents and teachers of little ones have probably sung the “clean up, clean up, everybody clean up” song hundreds of times. Teaching children at the youngest possible age to pick up after themselves whether it is toys at school, putting their plate in the sink, or throwing out their trash helps instill positive habits from the beginning.

Cleaning Up On-the-Go

Whenever kids visit a local playground, beach on vacation, or go for a hike, bring an extra bag with you whenever feasible so you can pick up lost water bottle caps, wrappers, and toys you discover along the way. It’s helpful to reinforce why it is so crucial by teaching children about how animals and the Earth are negatively impacted by the trash left behind.

Other Good Habits

Extend the Earth love long after National CleanUp Day by leading by example and teaching children about the importance of recycling, reducing plastic consumption (we’re looking at you, plastic water bottles), joining local chapters of organizations such as Keep America Beautiful, supporting businesses committed to utilizing eco-friendly materials, and finding other ways to give back.

We would love to hear about what you are doing for National CleanUp Day! Comment below or drop a note on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

For additional resources on ways to give back, live an eco-friendlier lifestyle, and embrace Planet Friendly Fun, be sure to follow our social media pages and check back on the blog frequently.

Happy National CleanUp Day!

The summer fun season is about as good as it gets for our children. School is out, the sun is shining, and the days are long. For many parents, however, the “days are long” part of the summer is what sticks out the most. Trying to find fun, affordable, and safe activities for our children in the hours they’re normally in school can be a challenge. Camps are great, sure, but they can be expensive and getting kids to and from the drop-off and pick-up spots can be stressful.  

We wanted to help out our fellow parents and guardians and showcase some cool — and perhaps unique — ways of using a playground to take summer to the next level. Of course, you can always simply take kids to the playground. Who doesn’t love that? But we wanted to help change things up a bit in order to keep children on their toes. Below you’ll find a list of some fun activities to hopefully take summer at the playground to the next level. If you have any ideas that we missed, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line or find us on Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to hear your ideas!  

Picnic at the Playground 

Who doesn’t love a summer picnic? This is a classic example of summer fun, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remind people of how great they can be. Get your kids in on the action and let them pack their own lunches, snacks, and maybe even a treat or two. This allows the children to feel engaged with the activity, but it also ensures you’ll avoid the dreaded cry of, “I’m hungry!” soon after settling in at the playground.  

Create an Adventure Course 

Have you ever seen American Ninja Warrior? It’s essentially a playground for adults, that requires the competitors to go through an obstacle course of sorts. While you’ll have to tone down what you do for your kids, this is a fun way of making the playground even more exciting. This is a good example of using an existing playground and turning it into a course for kids.  

Hold a Scavenger Hunt 

Growing up and taking part in neighborhood scavenger hunts was always one of our favorite summer activities. While some scavenger hunts can span large spaces, you can use your neighborhood playground as a central hub for yours. Choose 10 items that you can either readily find near the playground or items you bring to the playground — think pinecones or a local flower or leaf from certain trees — and have your children and their friends team up to find them.  

Organize a Playground Cleanup 

 Okay, so this will be slightly less “fun” than a cool scavenger hunt or an awesome obstacle course, but this could go a long way to teaching the children in your neighborhood about the importance of cleaning the local environment. To incentivize participation, come up with goals for individuals and the group as a whole. Who can clean up the most? Who can spread the most mulch or remove the most pinecones? If you can tie in aspects of gamification to keeping your neighborhood or church playground clean, it will go a long way to ensuring it stays that way.  

Obviously, you’ll need a super sweet playground to be able to take advantages of these summer fun activities. If your neighborhood or church playground is out of date or in need of replacementEcoPlay Structures is here to help. By harnessing the power of EcoPlay® Lumber we’re able to create customized playgrounds that are built to last. Our EcoPlay Lumber is guaranteed for 50 years! Contact us today to learn more about what makes EcoPlay Structures some of the best playgrounds on the market.  

For those who yearn for a clean, sustainable environment—like EcoPlay Structures—Earth Day is the perfect time to educate the kid in all of us on the benefits of a healthy environment and how we can take care of mother earth.

April 22nd marks the 49th time we’ll celebrate Earth Day in America, with the first coming in 1970. The annual celebration was spearheaded by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin who, after visiting the site of a major oil spill in California in 1969, came up with the idea of a national day to honor — and protect — our planet.

The first ever Earth Day saw 20 million Americans come out to parks and other public gathering areas to promote a healthy, sustainable environment. Today, Earth Day is observed around the globe, with world leaders holding special events to promote the cause.

Now, we all can’t attend fancy events put on by world leaders, but we can do our part at home or in our schools to promote sustainable, healthy practices. We wanted to share some fun activities for the whole family — or classroom — that are easy to do, fun, and educational.

 

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

 

We all have a part to play in keeping the environment healthy and strong, and this Earth Day activity is a first step in educating children on how they can help. For this activity you’ll need the following items:

Once you’ve gotten all of your pieces, all you have to do is cut out the labels from page 3 of the Earth Day recycling activity and tape one of them to the front of each bin. Next, have children put various pieces of garbage onto their paper plate Earth crafts (or pictures of Earth) and explain to them that what we throw away typically stays on our planet for a long time. After the short “lesson,” have the children take the garbage off of the plates and sort them into the specific bins.

Afterward, we encourage you to visit your local playground or park and put what you’ve learned into action! By working together to help clean up garbage left behind at a favorite community playground, your children will learn the importance of both volunteering their time and protecting the environment.

 

It’s Amazing What You Can Do with Milk Jugs

 

Did you know EcoPlay Lumber® is made from 100% post-consumer recycled HDPE; like milk jugs, food containers and soap bottles recycled? It’s true! Our lumber material also has a 50-year warranty. While we think making our structures out of recycled milk jugs is pretty cool, that’s not the only thing you can do with them. You can also REUSE your milk jugs at home in a variety of ways.

Check out this fun milk jug planter project, which can be done with the following items:

  • Milk jugs
  • Rocks
  • Dirt
  • Flower seeds

All you need to do is follow three simple steps. First, wash the jugs and cut them in half, just below the handle. Second, pile your rocks — these can be found in most yards for free — in the bottom of the jug, about an inch deep, and add soil to cover the top of the rocks. Lastly, sprinkle the seeds onto the dirt, water, and place outside in the sun.   

As another fun Earth Day activity, we’ve created this free printable color sheet just for you! We’d love to see your finished artwork. Please share photos with us using #EcoPlayEarthDay.

For more than 20 years, EcoPlay has been used to construct commercial playground equipment which cultivates #PlanetFriendlyFun. The footprint we leave in the planet is important to us, which is why we produce a quality product that lasts for decades with materials that would have otherwise been buried in a landfill. We hope you have a wonderful Earth Day, and you can take time to reflect on what it means to have a healthy environment. And please don’t hesitate to contact us today if you are interested in learning more about our products.