Best Practices & Play Provision:

ParkPLAY – Community Adventure Playgrounds

Adventure playgrounds are curated wild spaces dedicated to child culture, offering a wide variety of natural materials, upcycled loose parts and tools, supported by staff trained in playwork. This model was established in the 1930s in Europe, and was introduced to Canada in the 1960s. As the trend toward programmed activities for children took hold in the 1980s however, adventure playgrounds were replaced by standardized playground equipment.

Earth Day Canada is part of a movement to re-establish outdoor, self-directed play opportunities for children and youth in parks and public green spaces across Canada. Our ParkPLAY POP-UP Adventure program is informed by the history of adventure playgrounds, including:

Ithaca Children’s Garden – Ithaca, New York

Ithaca Children’s Garden is an award-winning, 3-acre public children’s garden designed for kids, enjoyed by all, and driven by a mission to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards. Within these diverse gardens there is also a Hands-On-Nature Anarchy Zone, here children are invited to take it to the next level and dig for worms, play with water, sand, and clay, build forts out of straw bales and stumps, climb trees, and more — and in the process get muddy, wet, and dirty while exploring their connection to nature.

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Glamis Adventure Playground – London, UK

This is a playground built so that children could be creative and experience some supervised risk-taking. Here you can see colourful playhouses that children have built themselves. It also includes amenities that children can use such as a bonfire and vegetable garden. The playground is the flagship provision of the Shadwell Community Project.

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Stadt der Kinder Adventure Playground – Berlin, Germany

Berlin has a strong Adventure Playground presence. This playground translates to “City of Children” and is open to children 6 to 14 years. The space allows them as much freedom as possible for their own activities and self-responsibility in planning and implementing their ideas.

Kolle 37 – Berlin, Germany

This large space for children to build and play was founded in 1990 in an urban void created from an exploded bomb in East Berlin. The playground is a space where things are constantly in flux, being built and torn down for new creative building again. The “responsibility for children playing in these spaces is shared between the people working there, the children’s parents and the municipality; and the children themselves determine how they play – and the risks they want to take”.

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