The Playground

Eliza Clark
August 5, 2010

Before having kids, we used to pass by playgrounds without a second glance or thought. Sometimes they were noisy, sometimes quiet, but in general playgrounds blended into the background. Little did we imagine that our local playground would someday become so important!  By the time children reach the preschool years, the playground is a second home.  At best, playground regulars can become a second family.  Parents watch out for each others' kids, and chat about the ups and downs of family life.  Kids make their first friends, and sometimes their first enemies (usually not for more than ten minutes!).  Playgrounds boost social development, and of course physical development too.  All that climbing, swinging and sliding builds immense confidence and strength.  Hurrah for playgrounds!  And for the little ones who never want to leave, here are a few picture books and toys that celebrate life on the playground.

Playground Day by Jennifer Merz
Let's celebrate the sheer fun of the playground!  A little girl carts all of her animals to the park, and what a time they have.  She swings with her monkey, slides with her penguin and hides with her squirrel.  The park is a canvas for her imagination, and also for Jennifer Merz's lovely cut-out illustrations.  There is wonderful inspiration here for play and art.

Hop! Plop! by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Playground physics are put to the test when an elephant and a mouse try to play together.  What happens when an elephant pushes a mouse on a swing?  How about when they get on a  seesaw together?  Bright pictures and jaunty text make this a fun read for all playground lovers.

King of the Playground by Phyllis Reynolds Taylor
The playground is not always a children's paradise.  Kids argue over sand toys, turns on the swing, and just about anything else you can think of.  The toddlers simply screech "Mine!" and hang on to their toys for dear life.  The older ones come up with more creative explanations for why they won't share, and you can learn a lot about the fine art of negotiation from listening.  In this classic playground tale, little Kevin wants to play, but is barred from the slide, swings and jungle gym by a young tyrant named Sammy.  With some gentle coaching from his Dad, Kevin takes on Sammy in a highly imaginative war of words.  And by the end, of course, they are building the best castle ever together.  

Playground by Playmobil 1,2,3
For little ones who aren't ready to leave the playground at the end of the day, this sweet play set offers some consolation.  Here, they can continue the games of the day and a toy mother can continue watching them from the park bench.  Perfect!  Playmobil 1,2,3 sets are designed for children 18 months and older.  Add on the Meadow or Zoo play set for extra fun!

From the Parents

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