Tool 2 Playground Map

Explore how people experience the playground by mapping the playground and how they use it.

Needs Assessment
A systematic process for determining and addressing needs, or gaps between current conditions (where we are now) and desired conditions or ‘wants’ (where we want to be).

This tool forms part of your needs assessment.

When do you use the Playground Map tool?

The playground map tool is great to use when making improvements to an existing playground. It allows you to clearly identify what you want the new playground to offer. People’s perception of the existing playground can provide information that cannot be obtained any other way. It can reveal areas children avoid or use often, areas that are important or areas that can be developed.

The playground map is a cheap and easy tool to use with young or old. The only requirement is that you have a facilitator and someone to take notes. The playground map helps you get perspective on the existing playground, how children use and access resources and where they prefer to be.

Who can use the Playground Map tool?

How do you use the Playground Map tool?

To use the Playground Map tool you will need a venue that is close to the playground, a diverse group of at least ten to fifteen people, large sheets of blank paper, and coloured markers or crayons. Additionally, it could be useful to have tables and chairs for participants to use while creating their maps (younger participants can use the floor if necessary) and masking tape to stick the completed maps to the wall during the final discussion.

The facilitator should provide their workshop with the required equipment and follow the outlined steps. The exercise should take approximately one hour in total.

Playground Map

Step 1: Frame and explain the exercise

Explain the exercise to participants by telling them that they will be drawing their playground so that everyone can better understand what it offers and what its problems are. Assure everyone that this is a fun activity, that there is no right or wrong way to complete the task, and that the groups are made up of many people because many different ideas and perspectives are needed. Divide participants into groups of five to six people and give each group a piece of paper and set of markers or crayons. This step should take five minutes.

Step 2: Establish a starting point

Ask the group as a whole what the centre of the playground is. This is usually the most used or most prominent area. Once the group agrees, ask each smaller group to make a mark in the middle of their paper representing that central point of the playground. Next, ask them to mark the fence or boundary line of the preschool or playground area. This step should take five minutes.

Step 3: Walk about and draw playground

Once they have completed step 2, participants are to go for a walk about the playground and to continue to draw their map using the following prompts:

Once the general map and layout of the playground is established, participants should map out their playground concerns and opportunities using the following prompts:

Once each group has completed their map they should return to the venue to discuss their findings. This step should take fifteen minutes.

Step 4: Feedback to the group

Ask each group to send a representative to give feedback and talk through their map. If possible, stick each map on the wall so that they are easy for all to see. This step should take fifteen minutes.

Step 5: Group discussion

Ask the following questions to the group as a whole (and any other questions that might arise). It is important that either the workshop facilitator or a helper takes notes on what is discussed.

This final step should take twenty minutes.