Let’s Talk…The Scoop Zone
I am excited to introduce a guest blogger this week – Jamie Smith, ISU Extension & Outreach Environmental Rating Scale Assessor. Malisa
Snow and ice are a part of life here in Iowa and watching children’s faces light up when those first flakes fall is one of the joys of caring for children. Children love heading out into the white wonderland to play. Snow itself, despite the headaches it can give adults, provides children with great excitement. It also leads the way for many science and sensory opportunities and discussions. Snow can also pose safety risks on the playground. Playground safety is a big issue any time of year, but you need to take extra precautions in winter and not just because of the temperature and wind chill.
Fall zone surfacing, whether it is poured in place or loose-fill, cannot protect children if it is covered in snow or ice. We all know how solid packed snow and ice can be — most of us have had a winter weather trip or fall at one time or another. Imagine falling on to hard, packed snow from a height of 4-5 feet — OUCH! The “Scoop Zone” is the area under slides and other equipment that needs to be scooped in order to provide safe playgrounds for children. No one wants to do more scooping or spreading of ice melt, but it is vital to children’s safety. In order for fall zone cushioning to protect children, it has to be exposed. Children can help with the process — many children love to help scoop snow with child-sized shovels and they can always find ways to be creative with the snow that has been removed from the fall zone-snowmen, snow forts, etc.
For more information on safe playgrounds, visit the Public Playground Safety Handbook at www.cpsc.gov
For some really “cool” sensory ideas, search “snow sensory” on www.pinterest.com