Existing Playspaces

When starting to look at redeveloping your existing playspace, it is important to collaborate with staff, families, children and the community. This is an essential first step in ensuring that the playspace you end up with is based on your team philosophy of how children play.

Some ideas for initial planning include

  • Organise a staff meeting where staff can brainstorm their ideas of what they would like to see in the new playspace. Think about how children play now in the existing space and what implications this may have for the design of the new playspace. Ask staff to reflect on their childhood – what did they enjoy most outdoors when they were children? Note these reflections and then discuss as a group.
  • Another useful task is to collect some natural materials from your existing playspace and work as a group to design a playspace using these materials (samples shown below). This is a great way to encourage group involvement and discussion and leads to positive outcomes in terms of the possible design inclusions for the space.


  • Often you can repeat the task with children to foster their involvement in their new playspace (samples shown below). Continue this gathering of information by discussing with the children in small groups what they would like to play with in their new space. Consider using a number of collected images to begin the process. Document this information.
  •  Share all this information with families and the community – this can be done via your newsletter, display boards, portfolio books that can be borrowed overnight and returned the next day and meetings if they work for you.
  • Once all this planning is complete, you are ready for a designer

New Playspaces

When developing a new centre/preschool/school, you are often planning in isolation depending on if
you are at the initial development application stage or have begun to select staff that you will be
working with. Depending on your individual situation, planning your outdoor playspace is essential

Some ideas for initial planning include:

  • Reflect on what you want to achieve for your outdoor playspace – outdoor spaces are just as much for learning as is the indoors and therefore they require consideration
  • What overall philosophy do you have for your centre/preschool/school as a whole and how can this be mirrored in your outdoor playspace areas?
  • Get on the web! Search various playspace websites, collect images that reflect what you would like to include and develop a portfolio of your ideas.
  • Share this information with newly employed staff, your architect and all involved in your project and your playspace designer

These ideas for planning are just starting points to help with the process of developing your new outdoor playspace.

Tess Michaels