In our last post, we explored some church design tips for indoor play areas tailored for use during church activities. Outdoor play areas are also frequently a part of a church building’s design. In this article, we shift our focus to those areas, and what to consider when planning them, so that they are both functional and enjoyable for children in your church community.

The Plan Starts Here

One of the first church design considerations for an outdoor children’s play area is its placement and security. Ensuring that the play area is close to the church building minimizes the risk of children crossing traffic or other hazards. Proximity to the building also allows for easier supervision and a safer transition from indoor to outdoor activities.

Another important decision is whether to opt for a fixed play area with dedicated equipment or an open play area. Often, a blend of both works best, providing structure while allowing for a flexible, open space where children can engage in free play.

Equipment: Types, Costs, and Maintenance

Selecting the right equipment for the play area is another key church design decision. It’s essential to weigh the costs and maintenance needs of the different materials used in the equipment’s construction, like plastic, wood or metal. Wood, for instance, is generally the least expensive option, but requires the most upkeep and can pose injury risks, like splinters. Metal equipment, while more durable and longer lasting, involves a higher initial investment. Additionally, the choice of fall surfaces—such as mulch, rubber, or impact-absorbing sand—needs to be included in the plan.

Some Effective Outdoor Play Areas

In this first example, we see a fenced-in play area featuring a combination of fixed equipment and open play zones. The play surface includes a rubberized fall area, providing a safe landing for a swing set, and a mulched area for open play. This setup illustrates how different fall surfaces can cater to various activities.

The second example showcases a play area with rubber tiles as the fall surface, integrated with various kinds of fixed play equipment. The rubber tiles offer a durable, low-maintenance option that is also safe for play. This design also includes ample open space for children to run and play freely.

Multi-Use Considerations

While these examples are designed for use during church activities, it’s important to remember that play areas can serve multiple purposes, like in daycare, childcare, or preschool church offerings, although stricter rules and regulations apply in these settings. In our next post, we will begin to delve into the differences.

Meanwhile, be sure to check out all the topics we cover in our free, online i3 webinars on church building and church design. Sign up on our website to gain access to the expert insights and detailed guides that these webinars provide each month.