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The universal playground.



Mounted on sturdy coil springs, spring rides are topped by colorful, stylized animal forms. Back supports should be placed on the animal seats, and a sound-producing device should be provided to serve as an auditory cue.

Spring rides can improve balance and coordination.


Play is an essential activity for all children. It is one way children explore their world. It provides an avenue for children to exercise imaginative and creative thinking in a safe, secure setting. When play takes place in a group situation, it helps children validate their thinking with that of other children. Through such play activities, children develop social maturity. They learn how to cooperate with others, what makes others happy or unhappy, and what they must do to obtain the cooperation of others. In play activities, children can learn from their discoveries with minimum risk.

By watching other children, children with special needs determine what activities are possible and might lead to greater enjoyment of the play experience. Children are encouraged to try new activities, and to gain favorable attention by duplicating the activities of others, or exceeding them if possible. By engaging in such interaction, children gain strength, enhance fine and gross motor development, develop coordination and balance, build social relationships and lay the foundation for a positive self-image.

Even solitary play provides an opportunity for children to practice newly-learned skills in non-threatening situations. Many professionals feel that good motor, perceptual and social development are critical for learning basic academic skills. Therefore, the activities which take place on the playground are very important. It is necessary, then, that the playground environment be designed to maximize its potential as a learning aid.

The requirements of children with special needs are as great as those of other children in this respect. Children who are born with, or acquire, disabilities face challenges beyond those of most children. If the playground experience is beneficial for most children, it may also be assumed that it is of equal value to children with special needs. For this to be realized, children with special needs must have equal access to those facilities which promote developmental growth.


The universal playground, designed for the full spectrum of developmental abilities, benefits all children and works to the advantage of children with special needs.


Tables may be plain or have inlaid design. Tables should have sturdy benches, preferably with backrests. Allow space for a wheelchair and provide a textured surface design.

Work and play tables can promote quiet, cooperative activities alone or in small groups.


Geared to a neighboring swing, a sympathetic swing is propelled when the child's able-bodied companion swings. A sound-producing device enables students with visual impairments to locate and determine if in use and students with developmental delays to learn cause and effect.

A sympathetic swing promotes integration and cooperative interaction.


A sand table is a sandbox mounted on a table (ideally covered when not in use). Place indentations around the table to enable students with poor balance to stand. Allow space for a wheelchair.

Sand tables promote quiet, cooperative play alone or in small groups. They also stimulate tactile awareness and encourage creative activities and using one's imagination.


Steering wheels, mounted on a post or beam, should be placed at different heights so one is accessible to students in wheelchairs. A horn should be added so students with visual impairments can locate it.

A steering wheel encourages imaginative play either alone or with other children.


A gadget panel is a panel on which various devices such as faucets, knobs, latches, dials and switches have been mounted. Provide gadgets at different levels and provide tactile and auditory cues. Ensure wheelchair access.

A gadget panel can improve fine motor skills.


A wide slide is double the usual width, enabling two children or one child with one adult to slide down side-by-side. Add multiple access options, including a ramp for a wheelchair. Install on embankment to reduce risk of injury in case of falls.

A wide slide encourages socialization and improves perceptual/motor skills.




An adjustable basketball hoop can be brought to different heights. Ensure wheelchair access and add a sound-producing device to serve as an auditory cue.

This hoop improves upper-extremity strength and eye-hand coordination.


A music panel incorporates a number of music-producing devices that can be sounded with a stick or by hand. Devices should be at varying heights to ensure access. Ensure that surrounding surface is wheelchair accessible.

A music panel stimulates auditory discrimination.
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Title Annotation:playground adaptions designed by the Canadian Ministry of Education
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:Oct 1, 1990
Previous Article:Free at last.
Next Article:Parent to parent national survey.

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