Discover the Latest Playground Equipment for Schools

The innovative minds here at ESP Play are always looking for new and better ways to help children learn and play in the school playground. Our latest playground equipment is designed to engage and enthral, motivating pupils to take an active part in physical and creative pursuits, whether that’s for learning or just for fun. Here are just some of the exciting new products we have on offer.

New imaginative playground equipment

literacy and phonics

Our already wide range of imaginative playground equipment has expanded even more with the addition of eleven new products. These include two playboats, Liberty and Spirit. At almost 4m long and 1.7m wide, the Liberty allows your pupils' creativity to set sail on many adventures. Complete with onboard seating, flagged mast, ship’s wheel, sail shade, a bow to lean on and a plank to walk, its ideal for imaginative play. Alternatively, there’s the Spirit, a twin decked vessel with a raised quarterdeck, accessed via a ship’s ramp, steps and climbing holds. The top deck features two telescopes, a porthole, a flagged mast and a ship's wheel. On the lower deck, you’ll find seating for the crew, a walking plank, a tall bow and a chalkboard where Blackbeard can draw the map to the treasure.

Other new, imaginative play equipment incorporates a wide use of chalkboards. These include a worktable, sorting trough, activity bench and signposts. There’s also a coat and bag station where things can be safely hung up out of the way during outdoor activities.

New playground markings

literacy and phonics

We’ve added 14 new playground markings to our existing collection. These include a variety of blank markings where we’ve removed numbers from the original designs. The Blank Circles, Multicoloured Circle Grid, Number Snake, Orange Way Number Ladder and giant 100 Square Blank Grid enable teachers to increase the challenge by getting pupils to fill in the numbers themselves with chalk or ask them to count without seeing the numbers.

We’ve also introduced other new playground markings, including basic shape markings, an EYFS Target Trainer and Ring Step and a fun Open Ended Frog Pond, complete with frog.

New Free Flow Packages

literacy and phonics

Free Flow is a popular, modular climbing frame system that provides lots of excitement in the school playground. It motivates children to increase participation in physical activity and to develop important physical skills like coordination and balance. It also helps pupils challenge themselves, deal better with risk and develop resilience.

Our latest Free Flow packages are Endeavour, Adventure, Pursuit and Quest. From the smallest system, Endeavour, through to the largest, Quest, you’ll find a growing range of climbing and other physical challenges. Quest offers the widest variety of features, including jungle bars, a traversing wall, a swinging tyre bridge, spiderweb ropes, balance beams, balance ropes and more. The Free Flow system is suitable for children aged 5 to 16.

New-fangled Tangled equipment

literacy and phonics

 

Our Tangled rope and beam challenge equipment has always been a highly popular choice for schools and we’ve made some significant updates to our range. First of all, we’ve added three brand new pieces. These are The Redback, The Nest and The Labyrinth. The Labyrinth is ideal for smaller spaces, being just 4.4m long and just over 1m wide. It also has no start or end point so pupils can get on and start playing from anywhere.

The Nest is over twice the width of The Labyrinth and offers a higgledy-piggledy set of fun climbing challenges that children will need to negotiate. With a wide range of starting points and an almost endless set of routes, there’ll always be lots of ways to enjoy this piece of apparatus. At over 5m long and 2.7m wide, The Redback is designed for larger playgrounds and offers even more opportunities to participate in physical activity, increase challenge and develop important skills, while also having lots of fun.

Aside from our new Tangled equipment, we’ve also updated some of our existing pieces. The Funnel Web, Lynx, Black Widow, Orb Weaver, Tarantula, Wolf, Huntsman and Nursery Web pieces now also come in painted versions, with black and green posts adding a touch of drama that makes them even more appealing to play on.

Conclusion

Working with schools up and down the country, we’re constantly getting ideas about the types of equipment children like to play on and the kinds of activities teachers need them to take part in. With these in mind, our team are constantly looking to improve our range of products to better meet the needs of pupils and teachers alike. Hopefully, you will find the latest playground equipment,  highlighted here, of value for your school.

For more information visit our New Products page.

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EYFS Playground for Westbourne Primary School

School: Westbourne Primary School

Location: Bradford, West Yorkshire

Westbourne Primary is a larger than average-sized, two-form entry primary school in Bradford, West Yorkshire, catering for around 475 pupils from nursery age through to year 6. The school had recently appointed a new headteacher who immediately identified that improvements needed to be made to the quality of EYFS outdoor provision. When choosing a playground developer to undertake the project, the headteacher carried out in-depth due diligence by assessing eight different companies before making a final decision.

The challenge 

Upon appointment to their new post, the headteacher immediately found the EYFS outdoor space did not enable Westbourne Primary School to deliver high-quality provision for its pupils. The area was tired, outdated, in need of serious cosmetic improvement and lacked the facilities pupils needed. The existing space did not offer suitable progression between the indoor and outdoor provision and the majority of activities needed to be teacher-led. The lack of opportunity for children to initiate their own play, to free-flow or self-discover new experiences was also a concern.

Before Installation

The brief

ESP Play was asked to design and install a new playground area that was more inviting, stimulating and engaging for EYFS children. As part of this, the development needed to provide a variety of play and learning experiences, including those where children could initiate and take part in free play. At the same time, the headteacher wanted to expand the outdoor opportunities that pupils had to develop their communication and language skills and to participate in problem-solving activities.

The project

ESP Play began by undertaking a thorough site survey before working with the school to design a new playground which would meet educational and school improvement objectives required from its investment. Once the design was agreed, a commencement date was established. Work began by installing new surfacing to the playground. This involved a variety of different surfaces, used to define the different play zones. These included block paving, resin bound gravel and artificial grass, some of which included playground markings, such as the ‘Roadway’. We then proceeded to build the water-play feature and raised messy play area.

The playground design included several pieces of climbing equipment, including an underground tunnel with an artificially grassed mound, log stairs, twisty challenges and a large, centrepiece Tangled climbing frame. In addition, we made much use of the available wall space by installing a magnetic water wall, body warping mirrors, whiteboards and chalkboards. A wooden play hut, tepee posts, triangular stage, benches, picnic table and various other pieces were also installed.

The results

The finished design transformed the outdoor space for Westbourne’s pupils, providing more opened areas for play, that were both safe and inviting for children to play on. Our carefully created zones meant space could be used more effectively and safely while providing a much wider range of age-appropriate activities for children to participate in.

After Installation

The outcome

As a result, outdoor EYFS provision is much improved at the school. Pupils are able to take part in far more free play and learning activities and do so more independently. There are also more opportunities to engage in communications and develop language skills and to problem-solve.

Overall, the school was very impressed with the educational knowledge ESP applied to the design and with the quality of the final products and installation. All areas had relevance and purpose but retained an open-ended interpretation of use. The school was delighted with the quality of the finished play area. The service was praised as the installation took place in school time without disruption to the school day. Attention to detail from design, product selection, quality of product and EYFS relevance and purpose was praised from the chair of governors, the Trust CEO, the headteacher, EYFS lead and teaching staff.

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Best Outdoor Nursery Equipment for Active Kids

Active kids are full of beans and can’t wait to get outside to play. But where do nurseries and pre-schools start when it comes to choosing outdoor nursery equipment that will satisfy their hunger for action while ensuring they stay safe? Luckily, there is some fantastic apparatus available and here, we’ll look at different types of child-friendly equipment suitable for such young children.

Trim Trails

Tree Trail Trim Trail

Trim Trails are a common feature in both school and public playgrounds. If you’re an early years provider, you’ll also be pleased to know that there are versions specifically designed for pre-school children.

Essentially, a Trim Trail is a combination of different pieces of equipment which can be put together to make a fun obstacle course in your playground. With balance beams, log striders, challenge climbing nets, low height jungle bars, rope traverses, wobbly bridges and much more to choose from, your active kids are never going to run out of exciting challenges to tackle.

One of the best things about Trim Trails is that you can pick and choose from the various components in order to build a course that suits your children, your space and your budget. Alternatively, you can order pre-designed nursery items such as the Tree Trail Coppice or the Tree Trail Spinney which have everything included.

Play Towers

play towers

Younger children love climbing on play towers and they are a really useful piece of apparatus to keep active children engaged as they are great fun to climb and exceptionally useful for helping children make up their own roleplay adventure. At ESP Play, we’ve added special features to encourage this, such as castle towers and turrets, flags, drawbridges and pitched roofed dens.

Play towers come in all sizes which means there is something for those with limited outdoor space. Depending on the model you choose, features include tunnels, bridges, slides, sliding poles, ramps, rope nets and even climbing walls.

Wild Wood

wild wood outdoor play equipment

Designed to complement your green outdoor spaces or to help create a sense of the great outdoors in an otherwise manmade landscape, our Wild Wood set of equipment is ideal for active, early years children.

Made from hand profiled timber, you can choose your own elements from the set and these include imaginatively designed treehouses, wigwams, hollow climb-through logs, coppice trails, log climbers, mountain and mines (climb up – crawl under) sets, forest weaves and much, much more. Great fun to play on, their attractive design turns your playground into a little adventure world where the kids feel comfortable and are encouraged to play.

Tangled

tangled - outdoor play equipment

Like Wild Wood, our wooden Tangled products also create that feeling of escapism when a child enters the playground. However, as the name implies, the central theme of this set of apparatus is rope play. The pieces let active children work off steam through climbing nets and rigging at angles varying between horizontal and vertical. There are also traversing beams where children use guide ropes to get across.

Imagination being at the heart of this set of equipment, the designs are inspired by spiders’ webs and ships rigging and feature aptly chosen names like cobweb, tarantula, black widow and wolf.

Tangled has proved to be one of the most popular options for young children as it is ideal for developing skills with balancing, climbing and swinging, as well as helping with coordination, challenge and resilience.

Playground Markings

playground markings - outdoor play equipment

One of the most affordable solutions to cater for active children in the playground is to install sports markings. These are ideal for getting lots of children involved at the same time in games like football, or netball. Although they might not have mastered the skills at this early age, just providing them with a marked-out pitch and some goals or a net is often enough to get them running around having fun.

If you have space, why not consider installing the Roadway markings. These create a mini roadway in the playground, complete with road markings, mini roundabouts, traffic lights, parking spaces and more. Ideal for running around pretending to be a car, or for children at nurseries with trikes, scooters or pedal cars. They are also a great way to help children learn about road safety.

Conclusion

As you can see, nurseries and pre-schools have a range of options they can choose from when looking to provide playground equipment suitable for active, early years children. All the pieces covered in this post are designed to be safe for young children, are robustly made and constructed for constant, heavy use. For additional playground safety, take a look at our softer playground surfacing options, such as wetpour and rubber mulch.

For more information about these products or for help with design, contact us on 01282 43 44 45. We’ll be glad to help.

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Early Years Playground Equipment For Developing Key Skills

During Early Years, it’s critical that young children are given the opportunity to develop the key skills that will help them progress more quickly once they reach Key Stage 1 and beyond. For children at this age, play is an essential part of their learning routine so it is important to give them access to equipment that can help them acquire and hone these skills. This doesn’t just include indoor equipment: providing early years playground equipment can be just as beneficial and here we’ll look at how it can be used to develop the skills EYFS pupils need.

Personal effectiveness

early years outdoor play

Developing personal effectiveness means giving young children the skills needed to deal with the world in which they live. It means teaching them to set goals, take on challenges, develop resilience and experience success.

These are all skills that, with the appropriate resources, can be developed and practised in the nursery playground. Challenge, for example, can be facilitated by installing climbing and traversing walls installed over wetpour playground surfacing. Here, children can set themselves goals about which climbs to tackle and the best ways to make it from one end to the other. Of course, at some point, they might find the challenge daunting or even fall off and need to restart. Keeping going, however, helps them to be more resilient. When they finally overcome the challenge, they will then get to taste success. And while this all seems like a fun game, the personal effectiveness skills they acquire in the playground can, ultimately, be transferred to other scenarios.

Collaboration

early years outdoor play

Everyone needs to develop skills in working with others. Children will need it not just through their school years but in their careers and private lives, too. During their education, they’ll take part in paired and group work, as well as being involved with various teams. Indeed, as collaborative learning techniques are now widely used, it’s the pupils who have mastered those skills that will benefit the most, performing better in lessons, learning quicker and progressing further.

For Early Years providers wanting to increase the opportunities for the development of collaborative skills, there are a number of playground equipment pieces you can choose. An Early Years Trim Trail obstacle course is ideal for getting children to participate in teams, as they will need to work together to complete the course successfully. Outdoor percussive instruments are also helpful as children will have to cooperate when creating their own musical patterns using xylophones, drums, drainpipe drums and washboards.

Creative thinking

Creativity is the uppermost skill on Bloom’s Taxonomy pyramid so encouraging children to develop creative thinking skills can have significant benefits. Children are often at their most creative during unstructured activities where there are fewer rules to restrict their freedoms. This makes the playground the ideal place to provide such opportunities and by installing the right motivational equipment, you can help spark the creative fire.

For younger children, there are plenty of pieces available. There are outdoor art and design boards for painting, drawing and mark making, the musical instruments mentioned above, and for the dramatically inclined, there are stages where children can rehearse and perform dances, plays and other types of performance to their peers. All these forms of equipment can motivate early years pupils to take part in activities that hone their creative thinking.

Skills in communication

early years outdoor play markings

Being able to communicate well is crucial for helping children perform in the classroom and for their social development. It is vital, therefore, that there are plenty of opportunities to practice these skills from the earliest of nursery ages. Luckily, children of this age love to roleplay and this enables them to explore ways of communicating by thinking up different social scenarios and talking with a range of invented and real characters.

While early years pupils are naturally inclined to roleplay, they often require some form of inspiration, such as props and costumes, to get them started. With this in mind, here at ESP Play, we have put together a useful collection of outdoor roleplay equipment to encourage all children to get involved. You can choose from stages, shop kiosks, play huts, storytelling chairs, bridges, a carriage and even a wooden train.

Literacy and numeracy

early years outdoor play

The sooner a child learns numbers and letters and their corresponding sounds, the sooner they are able to develop skills in maths and English. Finding ways to encourage such learning can be a challenge in a nursery setting. However, there are ways you can use playground equipment so that the emphasis is on fun and the learning is done almost without thinking. For example, there are simple playground markings with numbers and letters on them. These can be used for hopscotch and other stepping or ball games. As they play, children will become naturally familiar with the letters and numbers without having to ‘learn’ them in a traditional way.

Conclusion

During EYFS, providers are required to help children develop a wide range of key skills. Doing so helps to remove many of the barriers they would face later on in their learning journey, making them better equipped to progress and attain. With the right outdoor equipment, many of these skills can be encouraged, developed and honed during play activities in the playground or outdoor area.

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Solutions for the Ideal Nursery Playground

An ideal nursery playground is one that best suits the needs of the young children that use it and, as every nursery is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Indeed, as older children move on and younger ones join, those needs may change over time. To help you find a solution which works for you, here we’ll look at the basic elements of a nursery playground and show you what it is possible to achieve.

Think design rather than random organic growth

early years outdoor play

Even if you already have some equipment installed, it’s always a good idea to go back to the drawing board before buying anything new. If you buy something and put it somewhere just because that’s where there is a space, you might not be creating the most useful playground for your children.

Rather than letting your playground grow organically, rather like the random nature of many British town centres, a much better solution is to design the layout of your playground, just as you do your indoor space.

Through design, you’ll be able to create different zones for different purposes, enabling you to cater for a wider range of children’s needs while letting you better organise and manage outdoor activities. As a result, your nursery will be safer, as hazardous activities can be kept apart; and children can be more independent, as you’ll need to intervene less often.

Consider your needs

early years outdoor play

Once you have decided to create zones, you then need to think about the types of zones you might want and the equipment you put into them. Your choice here will be influenced by the interests and needs of your children and the need to deliver the EYFS curriculum. There is, however, no prescribed rule as to what you should include, so long as your nursery space and equipment is safe for children.

A place for active play

early years outdoor play - music

Nursery children can be full of energy and need an outdoor space where they can run around and be active. Not only is this great fun for them, it’s also healthy and encourages them to play together, form friendships and develop social and physical skills.

As children can quickly get fed up of just running around, it is a good idea to provide them with something more challenging and fun to play on but which still helps them stay active. Popular solutions include play towers with built-in slides, climbing nets, ropes and bridges, and low-height, Trim Trail obstacle course equipment that is specially designed for smaller children. Your active play area can also include playground markings, such as sports pitch markings or even a roadway with traffic lights, roundabouts and zebra crossings.

A space to be creative

early years outdoor play markings

Whether putting paint on paper, role playing or making sounds, nursery aged children have boundless imaginations and love being creative. While you may do some of these activities indoors, creating an outdoor zone where children can explore their imaginations more freely is a great way to develop their creative skills.

Nurseries have lots of options available to them when considering which creative playground equipment to purchase. There are plenty of easy to clean mark making tables and uprights that can be used for painting, drawing and chalking; there are a wide selection of built-in percussion instruments, like musical chimes, drainpipe drums and xylophones; and there are lots of pieces that can inspire the most inventive role plays, such as body-warping mirrors, log bridges and tunnels, play huts, shop kiosks, theatre façades, wigwams and wooden trains.

Somewhere to be messy

early years outdoor play

While messy play involving sand and water is the absolute bee’s knees for kids, it can be a very impractical activity to do indoors, creating slip hazards on the floors and requiring someone to deal with all the mess. Moving it outside into its own discrete zone, however, solves a lot of problems.

From a learning perspective, the great fun to be had playing with sand and water teaches children the different properties of these tactile materials, letting them explore how they feel and move and how they can be combined and made into sand castles, sculptures and mud pies. Indeed, water and sand play equipment, such as mud kitchens, splash pools and sand boxes provide the ideal sensory play area for nursery aged children.

A place to be reflective

early years outdoor play

Nothing gives a sense of calm more than being outside and surrounded by nature. Creating a quiet space not only helps children to feel relaxed and reflective, it also provides somewhere they can get up close to the natural world.

For nurseries that lack an on-site green space, it is possible to create them using planters and trellises. Trellises planted with climbers can be used to create green walls that separate the space from the rest of the busy playground and help keep it somewhere special. Planters can then be used to add colourful plants or even to grow food. You can replace the asphalt surface with artificial grass, if needed, or simply add a few benches or outdoor seats so children can be read to on warmer days.

To attract nature, simply install somewhere for insects to live, such as a butterfly box, insect habitat or ladybird towers. You can add a bird table, too. There’s an interesting selection of nature equipment you can choose from for your nursery garden.

Conclusion

Getting the right equipment for your playground and putting it in the most appropriate places can transform your nursery, making a far more enjoyable outdoor space that can be used for a wider range of learning activities. For more information about our range of nursery equipment, visit our Early Years page.

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