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

Monday, November 13, 2017


Are you planning to build a new playground for your school and wondering how you will pay for it? Fundraising may seem like the most daunting part of your playground project but it doesn’t have to be. These days there are many options from the time-honored bake sale to affiliate programs.  Consider a mix of traditional fundraisers, partnerships with businesses and parks departments, as well as grants.

Outdoor musical instruments at Angel Montessori School Playground
Outdoor musical instruments at Angel Montessori School Playground

Here are a few ideas:
  • Events. Go beyond the bake sale! Try something different:  a dog wash instead of a car wash, a silent auction plus picnic on your proposed playground site, a play-themed walk-a-thon.
  • Buy a brick. Invite people to buy a piece of the playground – a sandbox, swing, trail, brick, or bench — to honor a loved one.
  • Grants. Learn where to find grant money. There are catalogs of grant sources available online and even at the library.
  • Partner with local businesses. Give your local car dealer, hair salon, or coffee shop a chance to show how community-minded they are. Display their names on a permanent sign.
  • Affiliate programs. Programs like the popular Amazon Smile let shoppers select a charity to receive a small percentage of the purchase price of eligible items.
  • Grocery store loyalty programs. Many grocery chains, such as the New England based Stop & Shop, let you assign the points from your loyalty cards to a school rewards program.
Premier Park & Play has built elementary school and Montessori school playgrounds in the New England region, especially Massachusetts, Maine, and Connecticut. We have lots of experience helping schools with fundraising for playground construction. We offer free consulting to help you find the right funding sources for your project and to help you develop your fundraising campaign. Contact us at 617-244-3317 or email

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Choose Eco-friendly Playground Equipment for Your Park or School

Saving the planet and going green is what we aspire to do, and as parents, we want our children to learn to be environmentally friendly as well. What better way to do that than to build an eco-friendly playground for our kids?

Many playground equipment manufacturers such as Playmart, one of Premier Park & Play’s manufacturing partners, build play structures with recycled plastic materials such as milk jugs. A small park bench uses close to 500 milk jugs and a larger play set can use more than 70,000 milk jugs. See how much we can contribute to sustainability by using eco-friendly play structures in our school playgrounds and municipal parks. In addition to benefits to the environment, recycled plastic does not rust, peel or produce splinters, thus providing a safe and beautiful surface for children to play.

Besides play equipment and playground benches, we can also use recycled rubber mulch, which is produced by recycling tires, for playground surfacing. Rubber mulch playground surfaces are not only eco-friendly, they provide the most shock absorption keeping children safe from fall injuries. A more affordable but still eco-friendly alternative is wood fiber mulch, which is free of paint, chemicals and additives.

Nature themed playground in Riverfront Park, Erving, MA

Lastly, consider a nature-themed playground to teach your child to love nature and motivate them to become environmentally-friendly citizens, while having great fun with climbers, enclosures, panels, roofs, rocks and stumps in the form of natural elements like mushrooms and tree trunks. Above is a nature-theme playground in Riverfront Park, Erving, MA.

Premier Park & Play provides eco-friendly playground equipment and constructs eco-friendly playgrounds for schools, parks, child care centers and other organizations in Massachusetts, Connecticut and other parts of New England. For more information, please call 617-244-3317 or visit our website at

Why Recycled Rubber is a Good Choice for Playground Surfacing

When you design and build a playground, choosing the right surfacing is an important consideration. Are you looking for a playground surface that is ecofriendly and protects your children in case of a fall while also making a space that’s attractive to children? Consider recycled rubber.
eco-friendly, safe, recycled rubber mulch playground surface in blue

It is estimated that Americans throw away about 290 million rubber tires per year. Twelve states, such as Connecticut, ban all scrap tires from landfills. Using mulch from recycled rubber keeps discarded tires out of the landfill.  It takes about 80 tires to make one cubic yard of mulch so using it for playground surfaces definitely makes a dent in the stockpile of discarded tires.  Recycled rubber requires less energy to produce than new rubber so it saves energy too.
Rubber has a springy quality that provides cushioning in the event of a fall.  It absorbs shock better than any other loose fill playground surfacing option. Unlike sand, rubber remains loose no matter what the temperature is or what the weather conditions are, a definite plus in New England states like Maine or Massachusetts.  Unlike wood chips, rubber mulch doesn’t harbor fungus or mold so you can install it in damp areas.  Like any loose fill material, shredded rubber may need some maintenance to keep the surface level, but because it does not absorb or retain water (it therefore does not rot) you do not need to top it up as frequently.
great playground design invites play. Recycled rubber playground surfacing comes in different colors so you can coordinate the surface color with the overall color theme of your playground design for an attractive and inviting look. For more information, please contact Doug Knotts at or call 617-244-3317.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Safe Playground Surfaces – Wood Fiber, Rubber Mulch and Pour-in-Place Rubber

A study on playground injuries showed that over 70% of them are due to falls under play structures. To ensure that our parks and school playgrounds are safe for children to enjoy, installing a safe playground surface is essential. While it is common for kids to play in sand or grass and soil, these surfaces are generally unsafe when play equipment is installed on them. So what types of playground surface materials are safe and how to they compare?

Among the safe, ADA-compliant playground surfacing materials, the most popular options are wood fiber, rubber mulch and pour-in-place rubber.

rubber mulch playground surface built from recycled tires

Wood Fiber Mulch Playground

Wood fiber mulch is affordable and eco-friendly. It is made from engineered wood and is free of paint and chemicals. It does require raking and top ups, thus the maintenance cost can be higher than rubber mulch. Wood fiber has a natural look that blends in well with most outdoor park playground settings.

Recycled Rubber Mulch Playground Surfacing

Rubber mulch is made from recycled tires. It does not absorb water and decompose, and requires less top ups than wood fiber. It also offers better fall protection than wood fiber.

Pour-in-place Rubber Playground Surfacing

This is the most accessible playground surface and allowing wheelchairs to most easily roll over it. It must be installed over concrete, asphalt or a compacted aggregate stone and is comprised of two layers, a cushioning layer and a decorative top layer. The top layer can be creatively designed in various colors and patterns to enhance the look of the playground. Pour-in-place rubber playground surfacing is durable and needs little maintenance other than checking for cracks on a regular basis, but it is more expensive compared to wood fiber and rubber mulch.

Premier Park and Play has designed and installed many excellent playgrounds in New England that meets safety and accessibility standards. We offer playground surfacing options including wood fiber mulch, rubber mulch, poured-in-place rubber and others. To find out which playground surfacing option is right for you, please contact Doug Knotts at or call 617-244-3317.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

School Playground Equipment - Choice and Installation

Educators know that play is one of the most effective ways for children to learn. That is why a well designed and installed playground is an indispensable part of a school. Here, we provide some suggestions for School Boards and PTAs to consider when choosing playground equipment and installing play structures on their grounds.

Carry out a needs assessment

Before you start reviewing the possible equipment or designs, it is essential to carry out a needs assessment. Some of the things to consider should include:

  • Age of the children using the playground
  • Size of the required play structures, as well as furnishings such as benches and planters, and outdoor shelters
  • Number of kids who will use the playground
  • Special needs to accommodate disabilities
  • Constraints of your physical environment.
An experienced playground consultant can offer insights on other things that you need to consider before choosing the equipment for your playground.

Playground structure at Milestone Day School, Waltham, MA
Playground structure at Milestone Day School, Waltham, MA

Playground Equipment and Design 

The ideal playground should give children exercise, socialization, and learning opportunities. A great playground should have the equipment and design to stimulate kids’ sense of adventure and their need to explore and investigate. It should encourage kids to run, swing, climb, and then do it again! There is an undeniable link between a healthy body and a healthy mind, especially for growing kids. 

An excellent playground equipment supplier can help you choose the right equipment based on your needs. They can put together a playground design and construction plan to make your dream playground a reality!

Play Structure at St Mary School, Hampton, NH
Play Structure at St Mary School, Hampton, NH

Playground Installation - Safety and Accessibility

Every parent needs assurance on the safety of their children when using the playground. Playground safety includes not only the safety of the play equipment, but also playground surfacing, and the overall safety of the playground environment. An experienced certified playground safety inspector can give you a good assessment after a site visit. He can also ensure that your choice of playground equipment meets safety and accessibility standards established by ASTM, CPSC and ADAAG.

Premier Park and Play is a highly reputable provider of playground equipment and playground design and installation services. The company has designed and built many school playgrounds in New England. Owner Doug Knotts has over 20 years of park & playground industry consulting experience. He has 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. If your school is looking to install a new playground, please visit our website at and contact Doug at or call 617-244-3317.