How to Design a Kids Indoor Playground

Indoor playgrounds provide many unique benefits for kids to experience. Playing without screens or other electronic stimulation has numerous health benefits for kids, and an indoor playground allows that to happen even if the weather is bad. Learn more about how to design an indoor playground that can benefit your community with this article.

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Read the full article or jump to a specific section to learn more about how to create a playground plan:

When to Consider Opening an Indoor Playground for Kids

If your business is considering constructing an indoor playground for kids, you may be wondering if it is the right time or place. Thankfully, you can do some research to help you figure out the best environments for indoor playgrounds and know what to expect once your equipment is built.

Weather

Though this is perhaps not what you think of at first, consider the weather in your area. If you live somewhere where it is sunny and 75 degrees every day, there may not be a need for kids to play indoors often enough for you to gain a profit. However, if you live somewhere that experiences all four seasons, which often forces families to be stuck inside unexpectedly, an indoor playground would be beneficial to your business.

Demographics

Look into your community and see if there are enough families with young kids living in the area that your business would benefit from having an indoor playground. If you are looking to install one into your fast food restaurant, gym or retail center but don’t know how many of your customers have young kids who could use it, find that information before you pursue the idea any further. You should also look into the ages of kids in your area to know what age level to make your indoor playground.

Events

Consider how your indoor playground could be the spot for kids’ parties and events in your area. If you can promote your play area as a birthday party space or something similar, it may give you the unique edge you need to bust into the market.

Fitness

There are several benefits to indoor playgrounds, but the main one is that play spaces get kids moving and staying active. Look at the other choices kids in your area have for getting active, especially indoor options, and determine how you could stand out amongst those competitors.

Several benefits to indoor playgrounds

Make a Budget

The budget for your indoor playground should accommodate certain factors. Supply costs will vary in different parts of the world, so look into how your expenses will line up when determining your budget.

You should also determine how many children you estimate your indoor playground will handle. You can determine how much the final project cost will be using a formula based on the cost per child. The age you are tailoring your indoor playground to should also be clear before you set a budget. Different age groups will require different types of equipment to keep them entertained, and options within each category will fit into your budget in various ways.

The play theme you want to incorporate will also affect the price, so if you are trying to keep your budget as low as possible, consider whether you need a theme.

Determine the Size and Space

Evaluate the size of the space where you are implementing your indoor playground design. Your ceiling needs to be high enough for a ball to be tossed in the air without causing damage. You could also think about adding space for parents to sit, eat and use the restroom. To determine exactly what structures you want, start by adding a centerpiece component and work your way out from there to fill in your space.

Think About Its Use

There are many factors to consider when building an indoor playground, including its application. This aspect will help you realize the play space’s importance and the different uses it can have, which will affect its design:

  1. Safe space: Indoor playgrounds give kids a safe space to play with kids their own age who they can relate to and learn from. An indoor space also protects kids from slipping on cold or wet surfaces, and the surfacing can be made softer without the fear of weather damage.
  2. Creativity: Numerous structures come with the option to build or design pieces that allow children to exercise their creativity. Kids will also have many obstacles and surfaces to use their imaginations with.
  3. Learning: Indoor playgrounds help kids learn new skills like teamwork, sharing, friendship, problem-solving, patience and more. Whether playing with their friends or alone, they will learn new things about themselves, others and the world.
  4. Social skills: Kids will build social skills while using your indoor playground. Some playground components may require two or more kids to operate, which will allow them to learn how to work with another person and build friendships with them.
  5. Health: Kids need exercise to develop their motor skills, and indoor playgrounds provide a fun way for them to engage in physical activity. Fitness at a young age sets kids up to be healthier for the rest of their lives.

Perhaps the most important consideration is your industry and how an indoor playground will fit into that.

Numerous structures come with options

Amusement and Attractions

Amusement park experiences are enhanced by indoor playground structures that provide immersive play for visitors. As with any relevant market in the play space sector, the key to being successful in the amusement and attraction industry is targeting the right demographics and implementing inclusive design.

Aquatic and Water Parks

Water parks provide an immersive sensory experience for kids and allow families to enjoy those experiences together. Equipment for aquatic adventures should be designed to thrill families with experiences they’ll want to come back to. Your structures should provide a highly valuable, fun time for all families. You can incorporate many aspects of a water park with an indoor playground, including:

  • Splash pad: This part of the water park has very little standing water, if any, which allows kids — especially young ones — to get into the water without needing to know how to swim. They can use elements like water tunnels, climbers or water walls. The floor is also soft so kids can walk around barefoot.
  • Water walks: Water walks make kids feel like they are walking on water. The floatable features can come in various designs and configurations to fit your park’s needs.
  • Floatables: Adding a large, unique floatable to your park is a simple way to excite kids. You can customize your floatable to be any size, with anchor points in any area with at least 36 inches of water.

Daycare

Daycares are always looking for ways to help the kids who come there grow and develop mentally, socially and physically. Several types of structures can help maximize developmental outcomes in a healthy and safe way:

  • Soft sculpted foam: Soft foam structures provide an element of safety unique to indoor play areas. Whether predesigned or custom-built to fit your space, soft foam will create a fun, vibrant experience.
  • Independent play systems: These stand-alone systems are a unique option in that they are just one item for children to play in rather than several separate pieces like most playgrounds are. Independent play systems are ideal for toddlers, who will likely make up most of the daycare demographic. These structures also fit in smaller spaces, which many daycares will likely need.
  • Small play structures: Daycares are often limited to a small space, but independent systems and small play structures can still offer plenty of fun with reduced room available. This also can help with tighter budgets.

Daycare play areas

Entertainment Centers

Indoor playgrounds can make a great addition to your family entertainment center and increase sales, attract customers and build your brand. Once you determine how traffic flows through your space, you can decide what part of your business would best fit an indoor playground. Whether you own a children’s museum, mini golf facility, indoor trampoline center or inflatable center, an indoor playground could greatly enhance your business. Add an interactive challenge course, a themed playground, an immersive experience, a toddler play system, or whatever else would fit your brand.

Faith

Kids can often have a hard time getting involved or feeling interested at church, but church playgrounds are a great way to do just that. In fact, adding church playgrounds can increase your overall church attendance. Indoor playgrounds can have many benefits for your congregation beyond just appealing to the kids:

  • Welcoming families: When parents can tell you care for their kids, they will feel more welcome and comfortable in your church. Indoor playgrounds combined with childcare volunteers can create that bridge.
  • Kid safety: Providing an indoor space for kids in your area to play in is a unique opportunity and safer in places where the weather is unpredictable.
  • Learning opportunities: The kids in the church will learn more about themselves and others while playing together. You can also incorporate religious elements so that they can learn more about faith while playing.

Restaurants

Take your customers’ dining experience to a new level by adding an indoor playground for kids to play in while they’re waiting for their food or after they’re done eating. Parents will appreciate the distraction for their kids and the chance for them to socialize. You can also create a play space that includes your customized branding.

Parents will appreciate the distraction

Consider the Age of Your Audience

Understanding your demographic is crucial when designing your indoor playground. Before you choose which age(s) you’ll tailor your concept to, determine which age groups in your community could most benefit from an indoor playground. Whether you are building your playground for toddlers or older kids who are more independent, it is important to understand exactly what their needs and capabilities are before you begin building. You could even build playgrounds that accommodate teenagers and adults — everyone should be able to play.

Here are some examples of how you could distinguish between these age groups, which we will go into more deeply later.

  1. Toddlers: Kids below the age of five are learning so much about life and how the world works. Their motor and social skills are just beginning to develop, and play helps them advance those abilities. Since they are more likely to fall and need more stimulation, equipment for them should be soft and brightly colored.
  2. School-age: Six- to 12-year-olds have developed basic motor skills and practiced their social skills for some years. Equipment for them should challenge them mentally, emotionally and physically. It should facilitate relationship-building with other kids their age.
  3. Teenagers: Teenagers tend to be far less physically active than younger children. Play allows them to break free of anxiety-inducing environments and get away from the screens. Building an obstacle course or race course for teens will help facilitate that.
  4. Adults: Adults benefit from adventures that are rejuvenating and completely different from their normal routine. Participating in adventure playgrounds also allows them to connect with their kids.

Choose Your Theme

Consider where you will be installing your playground. The installation should enhance the rest of the space and add something new to it. Choose colors and a theme that will draw attention to the play area while also fitting well with the rest of the space. Your theme should also be suitable for the kids you are creating it for. For young kids, you could take a fun route like a wild safari or under-the-sea concept.

Whatever your establishment is used for, it is important to coordinate your theme and colors with your company’s or organization’s brand. You can even integrate its logo, mascots or other symbols into your design plans to make the playground feel more cohesive.

Types of Equipment to Include

Once you consider all these factors, it’s time to choose what kind of components you will include in your indoor playground. We have various systems that will provide turnkey, custom-designed solutions to fit your needs.

Dura Frame Systems

Dura Frame systems fit your needs, budget and vision with a layout designed with superior engineering. The framed structure can be customized to fit your theme and be attractive to the kids. There are several benefits to choosing this type of system:

  • Easy maintenance: The Dura Frame system has an easy-to-maintain structure. Its sturdiness helps it last a long time with minimal maintenance, and the design makes it easy to keep clean, saving you money on upkeep.
  • Simple design: This type of system features a structure that uses post systems that are 3.5 inches in diameter and require no additional parts, which keeps you from replacing post pads or netting. The design is polished and will complement other decor and elements in your space. If your facility’s look is already sleek and modern, this system will enhance it.
  • Customizability: The simple design makes it easy for you to customize the structure. Feature your brand colors and incorporate your organization’s theme with various powder coat color options.
  • Play: Dura Frame systems promote spontaneous play and let kids use their imaginations to go on adventures. They often incorporate slides, climbers and multiple interactive options so kids learn about themselves and those around them.

Dura frame systems

Natural Elements Collection (NEC) Systems

NEC systems provide a new and innovative way for children to play. The structures will challenge kids in a fun and natural way that helps their motor and cognitive skills develop while they confidently grow.

NEC systems are totally different than Dura Frame systems and bring their own set of benefits to the table:

  • Function: NEC systems boast a natural wooden design with wooden posts that measure 4.33 inches in diameter. Because of the wood structure, it takes longer for wear and tear to set in and lead to parts replacement. This saves your business time and money.
  • Aesthetic: The wood design offers a modern and industrial aesthetic and can enhance a space that already embodies a similar vibe. The wood can go along well with numerous themes if you’re planning on setting a specific concept for your indoor playground.
  • Environmental-friendliness: The NEC system boasts organic play elements that leave a smaller footprint than traditional playgrounds.
  • Play: Kids are faced with challenging climbs, twists and turns and various textures in an NEC system, which will attract their entire family to your business and indoor playground. The structure lets kids use their imaginations thanks to its whimsical and open layout. The transparent layout also benefits parents as they can easily see their kids from outside the structure.

NEC Systems

Soft Sculpted Foam

Soft sculpted foam structures are perfect for younger kids in indoor, outdoor and water-play areas. Kids can climb on and interact with durable, fade-resistant sculptures available in different sizes, colors, themes and materials. These elements add an imaginative and educational benefit to any indoor or outdoor space as kids engage with various life-size animals and nature-inspired structures.

These products are ideal for a wide range of locations, budgets and overall size requirements because they’re completely customizable to fit your needs and give you flexibility when designing your play space. From our in-stock options to branded or licensed sculptures, we can help you leave a memorable impression on families enjoying playtime while making it easy for you to clean and maintain your area.  Other benefits of these products include:

  • Long-lasting fun: We design our sculpted play elements to withstand high-traffic environments and maintain their quality and condition over time. They also contain a strength-to-weight ratio comparable to steel to handle a high amount of pressure.
  • Inclusivity for younger kids: Our soft sculpted foam structures are suitable for a younger audience above six months, letting toddlers still enjoy engaging play even if they’re not quite ready for playgrounds designed for school-age kids.
  • Boosted imagination: From butterflies and cars to trees and dinosaurs, kids can explore their creativity and learn to engage with others as they play make-believe and make connections to the world around them.
  • Convenience: Our soft sculpted foam elements are lightweight, making them easier and cheaper to ship and providing a seamless setup at your location.

Traditional Systems

Traditional play systems offer a more conventional approach to indoor play while leaving the door to customization wide open. These structures come in designs that are a blast for the whole family and can work for various ages:

  • Design: Traditional play systems look entirely different for each customer, but at their core they offer 2-inch posts and pads that can be paired with your choice of netting. The system components can come in numerous colors to fit your theme, brand or both.
  • Customization: We offer a wide variety of posts and pads for Traditional play systems, meaning the type and color are completely up to you. You can choose whatever works best for your brand, theme and budget. And if you ever redesign your space, you can swap out post pads for new colors to give your entire system a new look fast.
  • Budget: Because of how customizable the Traditional play system is, you can create a space that fits into your budget however big or small it is. We have multiple add-ons that can enhance your design, like ladders, scoops, rope swings, monkey bars and spinning barrels, but these aren’t necessary if they don’t fit into your budget. You can mix and match components however you like to create an exciting and interactive playground that works for you.
  • Maintenance: All Traditional play systems are long-lasting, but you have the option of choosing between polyester netting or TuffNet for added durability if it fits in your budget.

Traditional play systems

Safety Considerations for Your Indoor Play Area Design

There is one more major factor to consider when building your indoor playground — how to reduce the risk of injury and make your play space as safe as possible.

Most Common Safety Risks

It’s important to be aware of the risks indoor playgrounds pose so you can know best how to prevent them when designing and building yours. Some common ones include:

  • Playground surfaces can easily breed bacteria.
  • Kids can injure themselves if the playground equipment doesn’t provide an open layout for adequate supervision.
  • Kids can trip and fall while on equipment.

Be aware of the risks of indoor playgrounds

How to Minimize Safety Risks

You can take many simple steps to minimize safety risks. Leave plenty of space between playground components so the number of kids you expect to be on the playground at one time will not be too much for the amount of equipment or cause kids to bump into each other.

You should also clean your playground thoroughly and frequently to avoid bacteria buildup. Perform regular inspections to be sure there are no underlying, potentially hazardous issues.

Let Soft Play® Transform Your Space

When considering how to design an indoor kids’ playground for your business, partner with Soft Play for help through every step of the process. With over 30 years of experience, Soft Play has a wealth of knowledge on developing the most innovative products and safe designsContact us today to get started on your dream indoor playground.

Let Soft Play Transform Your Space

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