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Designing your Own Playground Using the School PLAYbook’s Best Practices

PLAYBook school playground design is a great way to shape the way your children are exposed to new play elements and playmates. It gives them the opportunity to take on new challenges and interact with kids their own age which enhance their physical and social development.

If you have lived in more than one city, you might notice that although playgrounds serve the same purpose –there are subtle differences to the way they are designed.

This is because each location is different which means that the local playground warrants a unique design that meet the city’s requirements. It is also dependent on many other factors such as the budget, materials available, stakeholders involved, etc.

What is the Best Playground Design?

Although HUB Surface Systems does not serve the consumer market, we think everyone can appreciate a little more understanding of what makes the perfect playground design.

There is no set standard for a one-size-fits-all playground, but there are best practices to designing one that helps foster children’s physical, mental, and social development.

A good reference for these best practices is the School PLAYbook which is a guide created by Vancouver’s local stakeholders aimed at transforming the playgrounds of over 10,000 students.

Together with the school board, educators, parents, landscape architects, pediatricians, and the community, the School PLAYbook will promote child development, prevent injuries, encourage smart landscape architecture and the use of sustainable materials.

School PLAYBook Best Practices

The School PLAYbook is a great guide for cities that wish to transform their children’s playgrounds. If you’re a parent, you need not to look far as you can start designing your own playground from your own home.

We recommend visiting this School PLAYbook resource as well, which helps homeowners create a backyard into a play haven for a child.

To help out our readers, we have outlined steps to designing ground surfaces which meet the School PLAYbook’s best practices.

1. Think of foot traffic

Foot traffic is the presence and movement of people walking on a particular space. The greater the foot traffic, the more likely it is that you’ll need durable materials such as concrete or asphalt with specialized coatings for colour and design treatment to the surface.

2. Large areas are better covered with asphalt

Use stamped asphalt when covering a large area and don’t forget to apply specialized safe hardscape coating treatments. This surface treatment makes for a more interesting playground area once colours and patterns are added.

3. Safety surfaces require soft material

You may be able to supervise your child as he or she plays independently but there are risks of injury that can happen fast enough before you can even do something about it. To minimize the risk of injury, you need to add safety surfaces in areas where a child is likely to fall. Poured rubber is a great soft material that provides protection in case a child falls.

4. Add variety with sloped surfaces

Sloped surfaces not only add variety to the playground, it also serves as a great safety surface for its cushioning. Using poured rubber, sloped surfaces can come at different depths designed in different patterns and colours.

5. Use fun patterns

Add patterns to your playground surface that invites several opportunities for play. It can be games like 4 Square, Hopscotch, and Long Jump or any colourful design that allows kids to get creative in their play. When applying these colourful patterns to playground surfaces, only use specialized durable, anti-slip asphalt coating systems to ensure that the pattern stays longer and is safe for kids to play in.

6. Inject educational elements

Add educational themes you wish to teach your child whether it’s shapes, patterns, equations, or nursery rhymes. Of course, this will depend on your child’s age so make sure to add several patterns that will complement each learning stage that they’re in.


Talk to your child about what other elements they’d like to see on the playground and make sure to apply the School PLAYbook’s best practices when implementing the design for best results.

If you wish to extend this project beyond your own backyard, consider including other potential stakeholders such as your neighbors and your local school.

Do you have a playground in your area that follow the School PLAYbook’s best practices? Let us know in the comments!