Child Development Experts Share How to Re-Create an Adventure Playground in Your Home

Tarah Chieffi

With three young sons, I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to let them run off some of their wild energy . . . especially when we travel. On a trip to California (before COVID-19 changed travel safety and restrictions), this quest led us to the Irvine Adventure Playground in Irvine, CA. I had never seen anything like it. There were mud puddles, giant building blocks, water pumps, and a sand pit piled with tractors and bulldozers for kids to play with.

After talking to the sign-in attendant, I learned that we had stumbled upon an adventure playground. Although the environment does seem more dangerous than traditional playgrounds, I try my best to watch from a distance and offer guidance as needed. I love seeing what they dream up in this type of environment, which led me to pick the brains of a few childhood development experts so I could learn more about the benefits (and risks) of adventure playgrounds and how families can integrate the adventure playground philosophy into their own homes.

What I learned was informative and reassuring. It turns out that these experts are huge proponents of adventure playgrounds for both their unstructured, imaginative play opportunities and their inherent risk factor.

I’ve since sought out similar playgrounds on other family adventures (and even found one close to home!), and have become fascinated by how different they seemed from the playgrounds I was used to. There are no clear-cut guidelines on how my kids can play on an adventure playground – the experience is entirely up to them. Read on to learn more and discover how you can create your own adventure playground at home.

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