How to Make Your Playground More Interactive

How to Make Your Playground More Interactive

Playgrounds are a great way to attract families to your business, but have you checked out what your playground has to offer recently? With playground equipment innovations and immersive equipment options now available, your current playground may not be as desirable as it once was.

If your playground is in need of some updating, don’t worry. Learn how to make a playground more immersive and how your business can benefit from your new, interactive play space with this guide.

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What Is Immersive Interactive Play Equipment?

Immersive interactive play equipment goes beyond the traditional swing set or climbing structure. This play equipment uses technology and well-planned design themes to transport kids into a new play world. Screens can give the illusion of being on a spaceship looking out into the Milky Way or under the sea, watching sharks and fish swim by.

With immersive equipment, kids no longer need to imagine they’re dodging asteroids — the screens around them make it seem like it’s really happening. Accompanying sound effects or music also allows kids to become fully invested in this new world. Immersive equipment creates a unique and engaging story for your play space.

Think of immersive play equipment as a helping hand in guiding kids’ imaginations and interest in the play area. Kids will continue to move around and use traditional play equipment like climbing structures and slides, but now, virtual elements and even games enhance the experience. Kids are unique in the ways they prefer to play. So, offering a wide variety of equipment and experiences is the best way to create an immersive and interactive play area that will appeal to a diverse group of kids.

The Value of Interactive Play for Children

Play has proven to be invaluable to the development of kids’ social, physical, and mental skills. From learning how to problem solve to developing and understanding social relationships, kids begin to explore the world and learn more about themselves through play.

Interactive play is a way for kids to work through these different feelings and experiences as they are in a controlled and monitored space. Learn more about the specific benefits of interactive play for children below.

The value of interactive play for children

Social Skills

When multiple kids use the same interactive play equipment, they learn how to share, work together, communicate and cooperate with one another. Encouraging kids to engage in interactive play at a young age helps them build a solid foundation of social skills that they will continue to use to interact with others.

Through play, kids learn how to express themselves. From creating rules for a game or asking for a turn on the swings, children have to learn how to communicate with others and do so in an appropriate way. As a result, this can also teach them how to have healthy friendships. Kids learn the importance of kind language and how being mean can leave you alone with no one to play with.

Play areas may be the first experience kids have with people outside of their families. Since kids will interact with a diverse group of people on the playground, they’ll also learn acceptance and develop an understanding of people who may look or be different than them.

Physical Development

As the name suggests, interactive play is interactive, meaning kids will need to move their bodies. Interactive play will show kids the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle while also developing their motor skills.

Toddlers and young school-age children can benefit from these physical games and challenges, as they help strengthen their core muscles, improve hand-eye coordination and advance their balance and strength. Introducing these healthy habits early on and showing kids how physical activity can be fun sets them up for a healthier lifestyle as they grow.

Mental Development

In addition to physical development, interactive play also assists with kids’ mental development. A lot of games require memory retention, which can teach kids how to pay attention and remember what they are told. Whether they need to memorize shapes for a matching game or they need to remember the rules for the game, interactive play strengthens kids’ memories in a fun and low-pressure way.

Play can also improve kids’ mental health. Through play, children may experience a range of emotions, from happiness from winning to disappointment and anger from losing a game or not being picked first for a team. When playing, kids will learn how to regulate their emotions to appropriately accept winning or losing a game.

Kids can also learn how to use play or physical activity in general as an outlet for negative emotions. Instead of throwing tantrums when feeling upset, children can learn to channel their feelings into a fun game of tag, for instance. Interactive and physical play release endorphins that promote positive feelings. Over time, kids will realize there are healthy ways to deal with their uncomfortable or negative emotions.

Other life skills kids can learn through interactive play include:

  • Self-esteem
  • Independence
  • Resilience
  • Confidence
  • Curiosity

Kids love play areas for the fun they experience, while parents love the physical, mental and social development their kids receive from a well-designed immersive play space.

Types of Interactive Play Options

There are a variety of ways to introduce interactive play into your business. Use custom-designed play equipment to tell a story, or choose classic options like play towers with multiple levels or playground sculptures.

For example, the Kennedy Space Center used custom Soft Play® products to transform their space into a multiple-story interactive and immersive experience called Planet Play. At Planet Play, kids learn about human spaceflight and directly interact with various space-related elements like the foam-constructed solar system and moon rocks.

Interactive play allows kids to climb, touch, jump and more. Stick with traditional interactive play equipment or add technological components like screens and sound effects to make your play space even more immersive.

Stick with traditional play equipment

Immersive play equipment is also available for kids of all ages. If your space allows, include toddler play equipment as well as components and features suitable for older kids.

Overall, one of the best immersive playground techniques is to choose equipment that involves and engages the senses. Look for components that engage the following senses.

Visual

Before kids even begin interacting with your play area, the visual appeal of the space will pull them in. Bright, contrasting colors can be visually appealing and engaging to children.

The Wonderscapes line from Soft Play is a great way to visually appeal to kids. The specially designed flooring brings together the immersive design and allows kids to pretend they’re walking on the sand at the beach or playing in a grassy, wooded area. These designs encourage creative play and allow kids to identify different animals, shapes, colors and more.

Tactile

Touch is a great way for kids to explore and engage with the world. A child’s curiosity will lead them to want to touch things to better learn and understand what the object is. Use play panels or play equipment with unique or intriguing textures to get kids interacting with the play area.

Auditory

Especially for younger kids, hearing and exploring new sounds can be entertaining and exciting. Include musical equipment in your place space, such as chimes, xylophones, congas and more. Kids can explore these new sounds on their own or make music with their peers. Choose equipment designed with inclusivity and accessibility in mind so kids of all ages and abilities can enjoy the wonders of music.

Vestibular

The vestibular system controls children’s physical balance. As kids play and interact with a play space, they learn more about their bodies, become stronger, enhance their motor skills and balance and become more confident in their physical abilities. Immersive and interactive play equipment like Soft Play’s STOMP is great for getting kids moving in a fun and enjoyable way.

As kids jump from one foot to the other, they strengthen their balance and motor skills. Plus, STOMP is a great way for kids to interact with one another as they can challenge their peers to competitions to see who can stomp the fastest.

Proprioceptive

A lesser-known but still extremely valuable sense is the proprioceptive sense. Proprioception describes personal awareness of our body’s movements and the space we take up. Think of it as how children learn personal space and how our bodies learn to adjust to different scenarios. Climbing play equipment, like the Spiral Climb from Soft Play, gets kids to use their bodies in ways they probably do not at home. Kids stretch their legs and flex their muscles, and their bodies learn to adjust to different movement and actions.

Similar to the vestibular sense, equipment that engages the proprioceptive sense helps kids develop their motor skills.

Applications of Interactive Play Equipment

If your business appeals to families or children, the addition of an interactive play area is beneficial. Just a few of the benefits of interactive play equipment include increased ROI, branding opportunities and increased customer loyalty. There are so many ways to incorporate interactive play equipment into your business.

Whether you create a small play area in a museum or create a family attraction within an amusement park, interactive play equipment is a valuable addition to your business. Check out some of the most popular applications of interactive play equipment below.

Child playing drums

Family Entertainment Centers

While it’s likely your family entertainment center already has great activities for children, you could boost your sales, attendance and traffic even more with the inclusion of interactive play equipment.

Examples of family entertainment centers that could benefit from interactive play equipment include:

Even with various fun activities around, kids need a place to burn off energy, and playgrounds are the perfect solution. Obstacle courses get kids moving, and immersive digital screens and sounds let kids of all ages and abilities get in on the fun.

Retail Centers

With indoor play spaces, malls and retail locations can be a fun outing for the whole family. We’re not talking about a few mismatched play structures either — with Soft Play, you can build an immersive play space. Turn empty space into a farm or medieval castle. Create an out-of-this-world play area and choose space-themed play equipment and decor. The options for themed play areas are practically endless.

Kids may even forget they’re at the mall as they become immersed in this new magical world of play. Mom or Dad can peacefully shop and take their time looking throughout the shops while a chaperone stays with the kids as they play. When adults are not rushed to shop, they have the time and opportunity to buy more products instead of having to get in and get out because of fussy kids. Entertained kids and happy parents ready to spend money — what else could you ask for?

Museums

Museum play areas are a great way to get kids immersed and interested in the theme of the museum. Plus, immersive interactive play exhibits are ideal for drawing in group events such as school field trips.

Create a dinosaur-inspired play area or an aquatic-themed play space for kids to pretend they are really interacting with these creatures. Through immersive and interactive play equipment, kids of all ages and abilities experience the wonder of your museum, creating increased interest and participation.

If your museum does not offer enough space for a full themed play area, consider small play structures. Even with a smaller play area, you can build an immersive storytelling design, and kids can work off some energy so they can stay focused throughout their time at the museum.

Amusement Parks

While amusement parks offer a lot of fun already, an immersive play area is a great way to appeal to families with children of multiple ages and abilities. Amusement park rides have height and weight requirements, but kids of any age or size can play together and let their imaginations run wild in a play area. Additionally, kids can burn off some extra energy while parents rest and relax.

The addition of an interactive play area may even encourage families to stay at the amusement park longer since their kids are having so much fun. With immersive play equipment, you can boost sales and attract new visitors to your already great amusement park.

Work With Soft Play for Interactive Play

At Soft Play, we are experts in play area design and equipment, and we’re ready to help you level up your business’s play area. We pride ourselves on designing play spaces that draw in new customers and keep them coming back. With our wide variety of products and ADA-compliant equipment, kids of all ages and abilities can enjoy your space.

Our team is ready to work with you every step of the way to create the most effective interactive play space for your business. Get started creating your custom interactive spaces and request a quote today!

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Work with Soft Play for interactive play

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