Monday, April 5, 2021


If you are having a playground built, you’ll want to make sure the playground equipment, playground surfacing and playground furnishings are well suited for the age of the kids who will use it. Toddlers have quite different play preferences and needs from pre-teens after all. Playground manufacturers typically make playgrounds for three age groups: 6 – 23 months, 2 – 5 years, and 5 – 10 years. So, how do these playgrounds really differ? Take a look.


Children in this age group are usually referred to as “pre-toddlers.” Playgrounds designed for their needs need to meet specific guidelines set about by two different organizations: the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). 

First of all, playgrounds for these very young children need to be designed to fit their tiny bodies. Seat heights are very low: 7 inches. Table heights are only 14 inches.

Playsets for pre-toddlers tend to have a lot of mentally stimulating elements, such as knobs and spinners that turn. You may also see tactile elements, such as shapes with different textures. Flooring is usually rubber and soft to protect the knees and hands of crawling children.

preschool playground equipment and furnishings in Waltham YMCA,


Children in this age group are usually called toddlers, and the CPSC and ASTM have guidelines for playgrounds for them, too. The equipment can be a little taller and higher. Seats are 10.5 inches tall, and tables are 20 inches tall.

Playground equipment for toddlers is designed with the knowledge that these kids are more independent. You’ll see a lot of equipment that challenges kids to climb, balance, and pull themselves up. Surfaces and floors are still padded to reduce the chance of injury if a child falls.


Kids in this age group are referred to as elementary students in the ASTM and CPSC guidelines. Equipment for them has seat heights of 16 inches and table heights of 25 inches.

Playgrounds for elementary kids allow for more independence. This is where you see swings, classic slides, monkey bars, and more involved climbing walls. Elementary playgrounds are what many people picture when they hear the word “playground.”

A playground built for the right age group will be safer and more enjoyable for the kids who use it! Always make sure you’re building for the right age range before you have a playground designed and installed. 

About Premier Park & Play

Premier Park & Play is a family owned and operated playground equipment supplier for schools, parks, child care centers, apartments, campgrounds and more in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

Our products include playground equipmentplayground surfacingsite furnishingsshelters and shadesoutdoor sport and fitness equipmentspray park / splash pad /water playoutdoor musical instrumentsdog parksbleachers and more. Contact us at

Friday, January 15, 2021

The Importance of Age-Appropriate Playgrounds

A playground can be a wonderful resource for a community, school, or campground. It can become a place where children and their parents gather to get some fresh air and exercise. In many communities, the playground serves as a meeting place, a landmark, and a source of great job. However, not all playgrounds are created equal.

In choosing park playground equipment for your community, one of the most important factors to consider is the age of the children who will be using it. Preschoolers, for instance, have quite different playground needs from preteens. Here’s a closer look at age-appropriate playgrounds and some tips for choosing the most age-appropriate choice for your community.

a preschool playground in New Hampshire


Kids of all ages can enjoy playgrounds, but the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission actually divides play equipment into three brackets, depending on the age groups it’s intended for. There are different guidelines regarding the safety of playground equipment within each bracket.

These three age groups are:

  • 6 – 23 months
  • 2 – 5 years
  • 5 – 12 years

Because the CPSC standards divide play equipment in this way, most playground equipment makers offer three different types of play structures — one for each of these age groups.


Kids tend to have more fun on children’s playground equipment built to suit their age group, but that’s far from the only reason to select age-appropriate equipment.

Age-appropriate equipment is safer for kids to use. A 12-year-old, for example, can safely use monkey bars in school playgrounds. Most 18-month-olds cannot. 

Size is another factor. Swings made for the age 2 – 5 bracket will be hard for a 10-year-old to squeeze into.


Sometimes your playground needs are obvious. For instance, if you run a daycare center and wish to build a playground for toddlers and preschoolers, you want equipment for 2 – 5-years.

In communities with multiple age groups, such as housing complexes, churches, campgrounds and parks, you may want to include equipment for various ages in the same playground. Some playground companies make specific structures that offer a few activities for kids in each of the three age ranges. Another approach would be to build three small, separate playgrounds — one for each age range.

Playgrounds are safer, more fun, and more usable for kids when they are built to suit their age-related needs. Make sure you keep the age of the kids you’re serving in mind when selecting playground equipment. Premier Park & Play provides commercial grade playground equipment that are safe and fun for children. If you need help designing a playground for your community, school or daycare center, contact Premier Park & Play at 617-244-3317 or email

Friday, November 20, 2020

How Kids Benefit from Age-Appropriate Playgrounds

 Over the past several decades, playground equipment companies have increasingly focused on creating playgrounds for specific age groups. In fact, there are even several regulatory bodies with standards for age-appropriate playgrounds. Kids are better able to enjoy playgrounds built with their age in mind, but enjoyment is far from the only benefit of age-appropriate playgrounds. Here are three other key ways in which kids benefit from these more specialized playsets.

elementary school playground equipment


Playgrounds designed with age in mind are much safer for kids in that particular age group. While a 10-year-old may be able to play very safely on a slide or a set of monkey bars, that same structure would not be very safe for a toddler. 

There are several ways in which playground manufacturers ensure safety for the target age group. The first is by sizing equipment appropriately. Seats on playgrounds for kids ages 6 – 23 months are a maximum of 7 inches tall, for instance. 

Playgrounds for younger age groups, such as day care and preschool playgrounds, are also made with soft and padded flooring to reduce the risk of injuries if a child should fall. For example, poured-in-place rubber playground surfacing is perfect for these early age kids. It comprises 2 layers – a cushioning layer with customizable thickness, and a decorative top layer that allows for creative freedom. PIP rubber surfacing also works best for ADA-accessible playgrounds designed to include children with disabilities.


Children have different mental and sensory stimulation needs as they grow. Age-appropriate playgrounds are designed with this in mind.

Playgrounds for pre-toddlers use different textures to stimulate and develop the tactile senses. They also use a lot of bright colors. Playgrounds designed for toddlers tend to focus more on developing the sense of balance and coordination. You’ll see play structures with balance beams, steps, small swings, and the like. 

Elementary school playground equipment for kids between the ages of 5 and 10 are designed for more whole-body activity, bodily awareness, and strength building. This is where you see monkey bars, slides, and climbing structures.

Outdoor musical instruments such as chimes, drums, xylophones and cow bells are perfectly tuned sound sculptures in different sizes and designs for children from toddlers to teenagers. They help develop a lifelong love for music and are often painted in bright colors to stimulate the senses of younger kids.


Sensory development and exercise are closely related in older kids, but a bit more differentiated in younger kids. Playgrounds designed for pre-toddlers encourage movements like rolling and bouncing. Those designed for toddlers encourage more climbing and use of the large muscle groups. As described above, playgrounds designed for elementary school kids tend to engage the body more than the mind with more intense physical activities like swinging hand-over-hand.

When you build age-appropriate playgrounds, you want to build playgrounds that are safer and more stimulating for the kids who use them. Playgrounds are a place for fun, but they can also be a place for learning and development if designed with those needs in mind.

Thursday, March 29, 2018


Doug Knotts, President of Premier Park & Play, a playground equipment supplier for schools, towns, campgrounds, apartments, daycare centers and other community spaces in New England, celebrates his 25th Anniversary in the playground equipment industry.
25 year anniversary of playground equipment veteran Doug KnottsDoug earned a Master’s Degree in Recreation, Sports and Leisure Management from Northeastern University and has been an NPSI certified playground safety inspector since 1995.
Doug has a natural understanding of the things that would excite a child, and applies it toward the design of playgrounds. He takes a collaborative approach to playground design, engaging the community, staff and school kids. He even advises and supports schools and non-profits in fundraising.
A supporter of the environment, Doug has made a wide selection of eco-friendly playground equipment and playground surfacing options available to his customers. These include products made from recycled milk jugs and playground surfaces made from recycled rubber or wood fiber. He also made sure that his company’s products meets all the safety and accessibility by complying with ASTM, CPSC and ADAAG regulations.
Over the years, Doug has received many kudos from his customers, from City Parks and Recreations, Schools and Daycare Centers to Apartment Complexes and various Non-Profits.
“Mr. Knotts is always approachable and provides excellent service throughout the sometimes long and arduous process of planning, budgeting and actually installing new play equipment. He willingly meets with City personnel, elected officials and community members, and answers questions while providing helpful insight based on his many years of industry experience.”
“Doug Knotts was simply amazing to us and our cause. He even played in our poker tournament even though he had never played before just because he wanted to help us out!!! Which that RIGHT there speaks volumes to his dedication to the project.”
“Mr. Knotts has been a pleasure to work with, reliable, thorough, creative and understanding of the difficulties of fundraising for such a process.  He has a wonderful knowledge of his product, a creative type and a natural understanding of the things that excite a preschooler.”
“Doug’s considerate manner, attention to details on behalf of the customer and overall work ethic exceed the norm.  He is honest, patient and very dedicated to his customer and stands behind his product.”
For his part, Doug enjoys his work tremendously and looks forward to many more years providing fun and educational playgrounds for children all over New England!
About Premier Park & Play:
Premier Park & Play is a family owned and operated playground equipment supplier for schools, parks, child care centers, campgrounds and non-profits in New England. The Company is a state contractor for Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Designing Early Childhood Playgrounds

Designing a playground for early age kids involves more than choosing age-appropriate equipment. It’s important to design a whole play environment that helps them develop the skills they need and enjoy their playtime.  Whether you are designing for daycare centers or preschools, keeping a few key developmental needs in mind can help ensure that your playground design provides both skills development and fun.


Simple interactions with both equipment and environment can give kids experience with how the physical world works. Provide opportunities to push, pull, dig, build, roll, collect, or spill things. Try to include items that have multiple uses and/or settings that the children can alter by themselves to encourage hands-on discovery.

Sensory Engagement

Appeal to children’s senses.  Think beyond brightly colored equipment.  Engage touch, hearing and smell in addition to sight. Textured surfaces and natural materials can provide a range of different tactile experiences. Incorporating trees, gardens, and other natural features adds sensory appeal and encourages movement as well.


Consider the importance of risk and challenge. Children are built for adventure. They test their limits through play and repeat skills in order to master them. Provide graduated levels of developmentally appropriate challenges that nurture children’s natural curiosity and taste for adventure, allow them to try out their problem-solving and creative thinking skills, and build confidence.


Encourage imagination. Young children have an active imagination and naturally engage in creative play. Playgrounds that include structures like forts, tunnels, and other components that facilitate storytelling and dramatic play allow children to express their creativity, invent scenarios, and act out their imaginary worlds.


Support individual exploration and discovery.  Playground structures designed to allow opportunities for children to control the environment and select their level of risk without sacrificing safety build confidence and encourage independence.

If you need help designing a playground for your school or daycare center, contact Premier Park & Play at 617-244-3317 or email

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Power of Play

What are your favorite memories of childhood play? Chances are those memories happened outdoors and included a lot of nature-based activities like digging holes, chasing fireflies, building stick forts or sand castles, jumping in big piles of leaves, or just fooling around with dirt or water. Mud pies, anyone?

nature themed preschool playground equipment

Is it possible to form those kinds of memories today? Childhood has changed. With all the screen time, the lack of access to green space, and the emphasis on direct instruction and increased academic focus  in early childhood programs and preschools, it can be hard to squeeze in unstructured outdoor play.  We need to remember the importance of play in the child’s physical, emotional, and intellectual development.

Play is how children understand each other and make sense of their world.  They learn so much from play that it’s often called the “work” of childhood. Studies show that children learn best in an environment that allows them to explore, discover, and play.

Outdoor play in nature has a powerful impact on a child’s development. Research shows that school playgrounds with trees, fields, shrubs, and vegetated edges encourage creative play and build skills that will be valuable in academic learning too.  

There are entire preschools centered on nature play. One of the first in New England was established in 2006 at the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Connecticut.  Several Massachusetts Audubon sanctuaries offer preschool programs.  However, nature play can be designed into the playground of your preschool using equipment designed specifically for early childhood outdoor play.  Nature of Early Play products, available through Premier Park & Play, reconnect children with the natural world through interactions with dirt, sand, water, animals, music, and plants.  Products like the Outdoor Classroom, Nature Bowl, and Garden Roof House provide hands-on opportunities for exploration.  For more information about preschool playground products, please contact Doug Knotts at 617-244-3317 or email

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Building a Playground for your Community

Building a community playground is a big project and can seem a bit overwhelming on first thought. Does it seem too big for your group to take on? As with any large and complex task, it helps to break it down into the essential steps.
Playground at Community Field, Holyoke

  • Set goals. Decide up-front what you want to accomplish. That includes creating a mission statement and a financial framework that includes both the build out costs and the ongoing maintenance costs for your playground project.  Things to consider when setting your goals are:
    • Any special requirements for accessibility
    • Environmental friendliness
    • Theme
  • Create a timeline. Schedule the activities you’ll need to accomplish from the start of planning until installation.
  • Assess the location. Gather information about the location you have in mind. Take into consideration physical things like drainage, type of soil, slope, and natural or man-made features of the site.  Assess how much space you need for safety margins around the equipment. Scope out the traffic patterns. Knowing the specifics of your site before you build and install will make for a smooth project.
  • Gather design input. Visit other playgrounds for inspiration. Solicit input from the community, especially the kids, on play structure themes and colors, site landscaping and layout, and desired amenities.
  • Obtain a professional plan. Chose a playground installer or landscape architect to turn the design input you have gathered into a professional plan that will meet your goals.
  • Identify funding sources. Consider a mix of traditional fundraisers, partnerships with local businesses, and local parks departments to fund your project.
  • Build it. Assemble your resources, both professional and community, and get that playground built.
  • Celebrate your success. Have a grand opening ceremony. Acknowledge your supporters. Start playing!
Are you planning to build a new playground for your school or community?  Premier Park & Play has an excellent track record of building playgrounds in New England.  Give Doug Knotts a call at 617-244-3317 or email