Citation
Balancing play

Material Information

Title:
Balancing play evaluating preschool age play on public playgrounds for physical and psychological balance
Creator:
Benedict, Kathleen M
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
xi, 79 leaves : illustrations ; 28 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Master's ( Master of Landscape Architecture)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
College of Architecture and Planning, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Landscape architecture

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Play assessment (Child psychology) ( lcsh )
Play ( lcsh )
Preschool children ( lcsh )
Playgrounds ( lcsh )
Play ( fast )
Play assessment (Child psychology) ( fast )
Playgrounds ( fast )
Preschool children ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 76-78).
General Note:
Department of Landscape Architecture
Statement of Responsibility:
by Kathleen M. Benedict.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
656564998 ( OCLC )
ocn656564998
Classification:
LD1193.A77 2010m B43 ( lcc )

Full Text
BALANCING PLAY: EVALUATING PRESCHOOL AGE PLAY ON PUBLIC
PLAYGROUNDS FOR PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL BALANCE
by
Kathleen M. Benedict
B.S., Landscape Architecture, Purdue University, 1989
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Landscape Architecture
2010


2010 by Kathleen M. Benedict
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Master of Landscape Architecture
degree by
Kathleen M. Benedict
has been approved


Benedict, Kathleen, M. (Master of Landscape Architecture)
Balancing Play: Evaluating Preschool Age Play on Public Playgrounds for Physical and
Psychological Balance
Thesis directed by Professor Lois Brink
ABSTRACT
Many people understand the value of physical play at playgrounds but few realize the
value of play for the development of thinking, perception and much more. According to
Wilson (1997), Most early childhood educators are well aware that young children learn by
interacting with their environments. What seems to be less well understood, however, is
the concept that not all environments are equal in terms of inviting or encouraging children
to become actively engaged." This research creates a new way of measuring the
performance of playgrounds designed for preschool age children. The research is
specifically looking at what conditions of the physical landscape of the playground
influence physical, emotional, and social skills and how landscape architects can design for
these conditions.
The thesis utilizes a behavior mapping technique and interviews with children, in a mixed-
method quantitative and qualitative approach. The research is based on the concept of
affordances and will concentrate on the performance of specific playground areas. The
data collection methods will be applied to 2 case studies with unique design emphases:
natural materials and spatial sequencing for the Kids Together Playground in Cary, North
Carolina, and an equipment-based design for the Inspiration Playground in Fort Collins,
Colorado.


DEDICATION PAGE
I dedicate this thesis to my ever patient husband and co-investigator, Phil, also to my
exuberant children, Sierra and Cody, for allowing me to spend endless hours visiting
playgrounds, talking about my research, practicing techniques, typing on my laptop and
completing this dream.


ACKNOWLEDGMENT
I would like to acknowledge the time and guidance given to me by my thesis committee,
Lois Brink, Louise Chawla and Austin Allen. I would also like to acknowledge the input
received from Ann Komara, Robin Moore, Nilda Cosco and Roger Sherman. A special
acknowledgement goes to the City of Fort Collins, especially Craig Foreman and Tim
Varonne and the Town of Cary, especially Paul Kuhn, for their facilitating process,
documentation and providing the time for me to develop and complete my research at each
playground. Lastly Id like to acknowledge the children and their parents at each
playground, who willingly and cheerfully gave me their thoughts and opinions about the
well-loved playgrounds in their community. Thank you for your support and encouragement
in this endeavor.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Figures.........................................................................ix
Chapter
1. Introduction...............................................................1
1.1 Purpose of Study........................................................1
1.2 Scope of Study..........................................................2
1.3 Study Hypothesis........................................................3
2. Review of Literature.......................................................4
2.1 Value of Play...........................................................4
2.1.1 Affordances.........................................................5
2.1.2 Balancing Play: Psychological and Physical Opportunities............6
2.1.3 Why 3 to 5 Year Old Children........................................8
2.2 Nature and Psychological Development....................................9
2.2.1 Developmental^ Significant Play....................................10
2.2.2 Cognitive Conflict and the Power of Learning..... .................10
2.3 Conclusion of Literature Review........................................11
3. The Playgrounds...........................................................12
3.1 Selection..............................................................12
3.2 Design Intent..........................................................13
4. Measurement Design and Methods............................................15
4.1 Behavior Mapping and SOPLAY............................................15
4.2 Interview Process and POEMS............................................16
4.3 Geographic Information Systems.........................................17
vii


5. BEPP Methods................................................................18
5.1 Observation Criteria....................................................19
5.2 Behavior Settings.......................................................21
5.3 Interview Methods.......................................................24
6. BEPP Results................................................................25
6.1 Physical and Social Observation Summary...............................25
6.2 Results of Physical Affordances.........................................27
6.3 Results of Social Affordances...........................................31
6.4 Results of Physical and Social Affordances Together.....................35
6.5 Physical and Social Observation Discussion..............................41
6.6 Emotion Interview Summary...............................................42
6.7 Results of Emotion Affordances..........................................47
6.8 Emotion Interview Discussion............................................51
7. Data Limitations............................................................52
8. Conclusions.................................................................54
9. Direction for Further Research..............................................56
Appendix
A. Validity and Reliability....................................................57
B. Sample of Behavior Mapping Observation Sheets...............................58
C. Sample Interview Boards from Both Playgrounds...............................70
D. Human Subject Research Committee Approval Documents.........................74
E. SOPLAY, POEMS and BEPP Comparison Table.....................................75
viii


Bibliography


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure
3.1 Inspiration Playground Map....................................................14
3.2 Kids Together Playground Map..................................................14
5.1 Observation Criteria..........................................................19
5.2 Manipulative Game and Cooperative Play........................................20
5.3 Sedentary Game................................................................20
. 5.4 Parallel Play.................................................................20
5.5 Inspiration Playground Behavior Settings......................................22
5.6 Kids Together Playground Behavior Settings....................................23
5.7 Emotional Categories..........................................................24
5.8 Interviews at Inspiration Playground..........................................24
5.9 Interviews at Kids Together Playground........................................24
6.1 Observation Session at Inspiration Playground.................................25
6.2 Physical Observations Summary.................................................25
6.3 Social Observations Summary...................................................26
6.4 Inspiration Playground Physical Affordances...................................28
6.5 Kids Togehter Playground Physical Affordances.................................30
6.6 Inspiration Playground Sociall Affordances....................................32
6.7 Kids Togehter Playground Social Affordances...................................34
6.8 Medium Social and Very Active Physical IP.....................................35
6.9 Medium Social and Very Active Physical KTP....................................36
x


6.10 Medium Social and Walking Physical IP................................37
6.11 Medium Social and Walking Physical KTP...............................38
6.12 Medium Social and Sedentary Physical IP..............................39
6.13 Medium Social and Sedentary Physical KTP.............................40
6.14 Results for Happy......................................................43
6.15 Results for Scary......................................................44
6.16 Results for Bored......................................................45
6.17 Results for Sad........................................................46
6.18 Happy and Scary Emotional Affordances at KTP...........................47
6.19 Happy and Scary Emotional Affordances at IP............................48
6.20 Bored and Sad Emotional Affordances at KTP.............................47
6.21 Bored and Sad Emotional Affordances at IP..............................48
XI


1.
Introduction
Informal observations of children playing in playgrounds specifically designed for preschool
ages demonstrate a lack of creative and imaginative play. The children try the age
appropriate equipment for a few minutes and then choose to spend the next hour rolling
down a hill or digging in the mud hole. Was it because the equipment was not challenging
enough? Was it because they wanted to play with the older children? Is the natural
environment more conducive to their type of play than the built structures? How can
landscape architects improve their playground design to offer a more stimulating balanced
environment for the preschool age children?
1.1 Purpose of Study
Many landscape architects design the playgrounds physical setting and then select the
equipment based on costs, size of setting area and list of physical needs served. They rely
on the manufacturer of the equipment to provide the safety certifications, fall zone
requirements and the research that this particular piece of equipment is serving the
physical needs of the children. Some designers attempt to engage childrens imagination
through the use of themes, unusual spatial forms and creative materials. Each of these
types of design is form-based. This study hopes to encourage landscape architects to
evaluate affordances as a means to change design from a form-based approach to a
performance based approach. By conceptualizing a playground by its performance instead
of form, this study hopes to inspire landscape architects to design playgrounds for
balanced physical and psychological development in children.
Play is a necessary and important part of child development. The setting for that play
should provide opportunities to stimulate development (Eriksen, 1985). This research
suggests that playgrounds can influence the emotional, social and cognitive development
of preschool aged children. The intention is to provide a means for landscape architects to
1


evaluate the performance of their current playground designs in order to better inform their
future designs.
1.2 Scope of Study
In order to create a new measure to evaluate and then compare playgrounds, I first began
with an intensive literature review of the types of studies that have been done as well as
measures that have been created. This review covered the gamut of landscape
architectural theory, to psychological studies, to early childhood education testing and
observation. With this grounding I proceeded to adapt portions of the measures,
SOPLAY(Thomas L. McKenzie, 2006) and POEMS (Karen DeBord, 2005), that seemed
most likely to give me the information I wanted. This led to the creation of a new technique
for evaluating a public playground from a 3 to 5 year olds perspective. Once I had refined
the measure and tested it at the Inspiration Playground in Fort Collins, Colorado, I
continued to gather data with the measure at Inspiration Playground and then at Kids
Together Playground, in Cary, North Carolina. My intention was to have enough data to be
able to show the measure was successful at answering the proposed questions as well as
providing enough data to compare the two playgrounds affordances to each other.
The questions I wanted to answer when commencing this study included:
Does current playground design emphasizing physical activity levels restrict social,
cognitive and emotional interactions in preschool age children?
Does landscape integrated into playground design encourage a more even
balance of social and physical interactions in preschool age children?
Can you measure social, emotional and physical affordances of public
playgrounds, in a feasible way, for use by landscape architects to evaluate their
playground designs?
2


1.3 Study Hypothesis
As the senior landscape architect for the City of Fort Collins, I am the lead designer and in
charge of construction of the public parks and playgrounds for the City. As a practicing
landscape architect I have always had in interest in what my designs provide to the public
and found that many times the design is presented and implemented but rarely re-
evaluated after completion. When I started on this study, I was fairly sure that children in
the 3 to 5 age group were easily bored by the equipment based designs that were provided
to them. Through observation of my own children and playgrounds I had designed myself,
it appeared that even though the equipment was designed to be safe for their age level,
they quickly tired of the limited challenge and left for more interesting areas.
I hypothesized that the equipment based designs were not providing enough psychological
stimulus for children in this age group, that the children needed more challenge, more
independence from their parents and more flexibility to change their environment.
I hypothesized that the equipment based design would have a much higher physical level
of activity than the nature integrated design playground. My thought was that the nature
integrated playground would have a higher complexity of affordances available and would
therefore provide for a lower level of physical activity and a higher level of social activity.
This would provide for a more balanced playground overall for children in the 3 to 5 age
group.
My final concern for this research was that I needed to find a measure that could work in
the public sector and was easy enough for any person to use. I needed a measure that
could give some basic answers to the questions above within a limited time frame. If I
could create this method for evaluating existing public playgrounds, eventually enough
data would be provided, so a better way to design for young childrens playgrounds could
be found.
3


2.
Review of Literature
"The geography of young people's lives has been reshaped. Much of the "free space"
available to youth in the past, from empty lots to nearby woods, has disappeared as a
result of development and legal liability concerns(Mintz, 2004). Common perception is
there are many opportunities for children to play in a natural unstructured environment;
however in reality these areas are declining due to urbanization and the associated
problems of drugs, safety and crime (Fisman, 2001). There are many reasons for the
dwindling spaces children have for unstructured play opportunities. Development,
urbanization, legal issues, parental fear and safety perceptions are a few. As free space
disappears from our culture, the public playgrounds take on the task of providing
unstructured play opportunities for preschool aged children. However, just providing the
opportunity for unstructured play is not the whole answer.
2.1 Value of Play
Many people understand that playgrounds provide the opportunity for physical play but few
realize the value of play for the development of thinking, perception and more. According to
Wilson (1997), Most early childhood educators are well aware that young children learn by
interacting with their environments. What seems to be less well understood, however, is
the concept that not all environments are equal in terms of inviting or encouraging children
to become actively engaged. Research by Dr. David Elkind (2007) suggests that the lack
of free and imaginative play in children's lives is affecting their cognitive, social and
emotional development. His theory is a blending of Freud's motivational orientation and
Jean Piaget's intellectual approach.
In the book, The Power of Play, Dr. Elkind (2007) postulates that the absence of play from
child development is due to alternative pressures of consumerism, television, computers
and organized sports. Children can be overscheduled with preschool activities, lessons
4


and even organized sports. Over the years children have been increasingly restricted in
their freedom to participate in unstructured outdoor play.
In One false move: A Study of Children's Independent Mobility, (1990) Hillman et al. did a
study showing that the number of seven to eight year olds allowed to walk to school
dropped from 80% to 9%. Parental fear for childrens safety when alone outside of the
home is affecting the development of childrens thinking by eliminating or severely reducing
unstructured play time in the outdoor environment. Parental perception of safety is a large
factor in whether the parents will allow the children unstructured play in a public setting.
Public playgrounds continue to exist; but as they were childproofed to improve
safety, they inadvertently reduced the opportunities for the young to take part in
forms of fantasy, sensory, and exploratory play, and construction activities apart
from adults. Safety and maintenance concerns led the removal of sandboxes and
swings, metal jungle gyms, and fire poles. Fear of child abductions and sexual
abuse resulted in the elimination of playgrounds with obstructed views" (Mintz,
2004).
Another potential loss of free play potential has been researched by landscape architect,
Susan Herrington. The existing place-less equipment-based approach to designing play
grounds does not speak to the qualities of being outdoors. Additionally the equipment
primarily addresses the physical development of the child (Herrington, 1997). As the
facilities designed to be safe become safer, the ability of the sterile environment to
stimulate a childs interest diminishes. However, parents need to perceive the area as safe
in order to bring the children to the facility.
2.1.1 Affordances
Gibson's concept of affordances provides a framework for a thesis that uses this concept
to propose an evaluation method that measures playground affordances for children in the
preschool age group. Affordances are functionally significant properties of the environment
which are defined by the relationship between the environment and an organism (Chawla,
2007; Gibson, 1982; Heft, 1988). The properties are not limited by physical form but rather
5


only by the imagination and ability of the children using the area. In Striniste and Moores
(1989) research paper, Early Childhood Outdoors, they conclude there is enough data to
begin design guidelines that address specific areas of playground design.
Chawla(2007) suggests it would be possible to inventory affordances for childrens play in
actual places, beginning with a taxonomy that Heft (1988) initiated and Kytta (2002)
extended, and then compare childrens behavior in places of different kinds. By providing
an evaluation method to inventory affordances, landscape architects could evaluate their
built works with the hopes of encouraging initiative to enhance them further. (Jost, 2008)
The measure developed here is attempting to provide landscape architects with this tool.
2.1.2 Balancing Play: Psychological and Physical Opportunities
"One defining feature of young people's lives today is that they spend more time
alone than their predecessors. Meanwhile unstructured, unsupervised free play
outside the home drastically declined for middle-class children. Unstructured play
and outdoor activities for children three to eleven declined nearly 40 percent
between the early 1980's and late 1990's(Mintz, 2004).
History shows a decline in opportunities for unstructured play and family sizes causing a
reduction in children playing together, raising the question, how does this decline affect
childrens social development? Children in the preschool age group are beginning to
interact with other children and learning how to relate to others. At this age they are
beginning to anticipate and react to other children and need a stress free unstructured
opportunity to try different approaches to social interaction (Mann, 1996). Dr. Elkind (2007)
suggests that even the memory of play in a child's mind can "reduce stress and provide
comfort and reassurance" that the child will take throughout his or her lifetime. Not only can
play reduce stress and provide comfort, but research has also shown it is an important tool
for developing social skills, culture and community (Hart, 2003).
Children need to be able to control part of their world in order to develop self-esteem as
adults (Mann, 1996). This research and many other studies give value to many different
aspects of play, but Piaget gives us the intellectual basis for why play can affect these and
other aspects of childrens thinking. In his book, To Understand Is to Invent, Piaget noted
6


Children should be able to do their own experimenting, their own research...In order for a
child to understand something, he must construct it for himself, he must reinvent it...if the
future individuals are formed who are capable of creativity and not simple repetition
(Piaget, 1972)((Bjorklid, 1984; Fisman, 2001). Play offers children the ability to develop
self-esteem and confidence through the practice of being able to create, experiment,
control and freely discover their own environment.
Does play help children move through Piagets, Kohlbergs and others stages of
development in learning social skills and moral reasoning (Cole, 2001)? Piaget and
Kohlbergs research concentrated on what and when developmental stages are achieved
in children. Piagets stage for this age group is called preoperational. It begins around the
time a child learns to talk and continues until about the age of 7. During this stage of
cognitive development the child is beginning to use his new knowledge of language and
uses symbols to represent objects. The child also personifies objects and begins to have
some understanding of thing and events that are not immediately present. However the
child has difficulty in conceptualizing time. Much of the child's play is influenced by fantasy
and assumes everyone see it from their viewpoint as well. At this stage the child learns
best by having equipment they can touch and that give them an active role in learning.
In addition, Childrens judgments about problems involving social conventions do depend
on the context... (Cole, 2001). Can physical context alone affect the pace of these social
development stages in the youngest children? And if physical context can affect the pace
of social and emotional development in preschool age children, then the opportunity to
emphasize psychological development should be a focus of playground designs today.
Unstructured play in playgrounds can help children develop a sense of control of their own
destiny. Allowing children some measure of control over their own lives allows them to
develop self-esteem and a sense of competence (Mann, 1996). Play provides the
opportunity for children to practice life and future life skills in a non-inhibiting environment.
Young children before the age of 9 should be a part of their environment to truly learn.
They need to discover, challenge and practice these life skills for themselves (Mann,
1996). "If mans most intellectual excellence is the most his own among his perfections, it is
also the case that the most uniquely personal of all that he knows is that which he
discovered for himself (Bruner, 1961).
7


2.1.3 Why 3 to 5 Year Old Children
This thesis focuses on preschool age children, the 3-5 years age group. In The Geography
of Childhood (1994) by Nabhan and Trimble, the authors identify a need for further
research into this particular development stage. There is a need for more research to
understand this age groups ability to perceive place and understand the functionality of the
space. Piagetian theory puts the 3 to 5 year old age group in the symbolic play stage.
Among a variety of abilities developing in this stage, in particular, this is when children
begin to utilize socio-dramatic play. Some of this play is non-verbal and requires cognitive
and emotional advances in development. Specifically, children in this age group, need to
develop social, emotional and cognitive skills and this is best accomplished in a play
environment (Mann, 1996).
Psychiatrist Erik Erikson (1956) believes that a psychosocial crisis' occurs during what he
calls the "play age,"" or the later preschool years (from about 314 to, in the United States
culture, entry into formal school). During it, the healthily developing child learns: (1) to
imagine, to broaden, his skills through active play of all sorts, including fantasy, (2) to
cooperate with others, (3) to lead as well as to follow (Erikson, 1956).
As reported in the 2000 Surgeons General Conference on Childrens Mental Health
(Elkind, 2007), Growing numbers of children are suffering needlessly because their
emotional, behavioral and developmental needs are not being met.'" Observation of
playgrounds show children in the preschool ages ignoring equipment designed for them in
preference for social interaction with older children and spaces designed with movable
parts. Younger children are constantly exploring their world and need to be able to touch,
modify and explore in order to understand the world around them (Hart, 2003).
Research has shown children developing attention deficit disorder, nature deficit disorder,
childhood obesity and various other problems at increasing rates (Elkind, 2007; Gallagher,
1994; Louv, 2006). It is possible that children are developing these problems at greater
rates due to other influences besides playgrounds. However, researchers such as Dr
8


Elkind (2007) have linked these and other issues directly to the lack of play areas that
stimulate emotional, social and cognitive development.
Children are slowly losing their free play opportunities in this era. They have many other
activities to choose from such as television, computers and organized sports. These
options are minimizing their free play time in favor of structured play and consumerism and
it is affecting their cognitive, social and emotional development (Elkind, 2007). Another
potential loss of free play potential has been researched by landscape architect, Susan
Herrington. The existing place-less equipment-based approach to designing play grounds
does not speak to the qualities of being outdoors. Additionally the equipment primarily
addresses the physical development of the child(Studtmann, 1998). The 3 to 5 year old
stage of childhood development requires social and cognitive play for psychological
development as much as if not more than physical play.
2.2 Nature and Psychological Development
Nature can provide unexpected experiences, moveable parts and unstructured play. There
have been studies showing a direct correlation between natural features affording the most
unstructured developmentally significant play opportunities. (Gibson, 1982; Heft, 1988;
Herrington, 1997; Samborski, 2000) The Geography of Children (Nabhan & Trimble, 1994)
used various fields of study such as evolutionary biology, child psychology, education and
ethnography to encourage adults to expose their children to the natural environment. They
suggest that middle childhood begins after 5 years of age when the brain is fully
developed, indicating that childhood brains learn in "a fresh, receptive and playful way".
Overall emphasis of this research was on why children are at a developmental stage
before 5 years of age and why they need the natural environment to stimulate a respect for
the worlds natural assets. This and other research has shown play in a healthy outdoor
environment is essential to the physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of
children, yet current trends show a minimization of natural features in playgrounds, an
escalation of parental fear of unstructured play and a growing lack of space and time
available for play.
9


2.2.1 Developmental^ Significant Play
Play with nature appears to be a potential medium for unstructured play in childhood
development as well.
Studies of adults reviewed by Kaplan and Kaplan (1989) on "nearby nature" -the
sort that children have access to as opposed to distant national parks or
seashores-led them to conclude: The immediate outcomes of contacts with
nearby nature include enjoyment, relaxation, and lowered stress levels. In addition,
the research results indicated that physical well-being is affected by such contacts.
People with access to nearby natural settings have been found to be healthier than
other individuals. The longer-term indirect impacts also included increased levels
of satisfaction with one's home, one's job, and with life in general. Surely this is a
remarkable range of benefits ... (Rivkin, 1997, p173).
Although the Kaplans reviewed studies of adults, it seems logical to infer that studies of
children would reveal comparable benefits (R. a. S. Kaplan, 1995; Rivkin, 1997). Play in
the outdoor environment can provide the unstructured play necessary for childrens
emotional development when tied to natural settings.
2.2.2 Cognitive Conflict and the Power of Learning
Nature is one of the most unpredictable and uncontrolled forces. At the same time,
Cognitive conflict.. and cognitive dissonance in the sense of discrepancy between what
you expect and what you find, represents one of the powerful conditions of learning
(Fromberg, 1992; Mann, 1996). So adding into playgrounds constantly changing natural
features that can manipulated and temporarily controlled by children could provide the
most powerful learning experience and have the most impact on childrens thinking.
Current research is being done to describe how natural environments can improve the
performance of playgrounds. Much of this research, such as described in Dr. Elkinds The
Power of Play (2007). identifies the current trends of television, video games and
urbanization in general as reasons for lack of free imaginative play in children. This type of
research identifies why play is becoming even more important and what may be missing
from the lives of children in our culture. Eriksens Playground Design (1985) offers a history
10


of how playgrounds have been designed throughout the years and the need for current
designs to serve the whole child, physically, and mentally. The study proposes designing
for ways to address the mental needs of the child besides just the physical needs. Eriksen
and Elkind suggest that the designs of playgrounds today are not fully meeting the needs
of our children in todays culture.
2.3 Conclusion of Literature Review
There are more children with dwindling opportunities for unstructured play. Observation of
playgrounds show children in the preschool ages ignoring equipment designed for them in
preference for social interaction with older children and spaces designed with movable
parts. Younger children are constantly exploring their world and need to be able to touch,
modify and explore in order to understand the world around them (Hart, 2003).
While play may seem like a frivolous activity, it is an important medium for young
childrens learning. It is a significant contributor to the childs cognitive, physical, emotional
and social development (Hurwitz, 2003). This research and a large body of other research
support the idea that unstructured play is vital to childhood thinking and development.
Play is where children learn from other children, notice and process their social world and
begin to incorporate the interpersonal behaviors they will need as adults (Mann, 1996). As
todays pressures minimize unstructured free play opportunities for children, the safe
places, playgrounds, need to provide for psychological development opportunities as well
as physical.
11


3.
The Playgrounds
Two playgrounds were selected to evaluate, Inspiration Playground in Fort Collins,
Colorado and Kids Together Playground in Cary, North Carolina. These two playgrounds
were chosen because of their similarity in demographics and many design intentions. Of
course they do have differences and these are differences are taken into account and
identified in the study as well. The study will compare these two playgrounds to each other
as well as provide data on what affordances each provides for social, physical and
emotional response in children of the 3 to 5 age group.
3.1 Selection
Each playground is located in a city or town that is very similar demographically. Fort
Collins and Cary have approximately the same population, family size, economic and
housing characteristics. Kids Together Playground is located in Cary, North Carolina, total
population 121,135 with 9,486 children under the age of 5. Inspiration Playground is
located in Fort Collins, Colorado, population 136,665 with 7,901 children under the age of
5. Cary has an average family size of 3.26 and Fort Collins, 2.98. Economically Carys
median income is $109, 510 and Fort Collins is at $76,064. In the town of Cary, 31,737
homes are owner occupied and in Fort Collins there are 30,878 homes that are owner
occupied (Government, 2006-2008).IV Besides their similarity demographically, during the
months of February through March, the playgrounds have similar climate conditions with
the potential for snow and colder weather.
Each playground is associated with a larger park setting. The Kids Together playground is
in Marla Dorrell Park. Its amenities include basketball, multi-purpose courts and regional
greenway system access as well as open grass fields, forested areas and additional
parking separate from the playground parking area. The playground itself is bounded by
single family housing to the east and the north, the greenway to the west and a small local
commercial strip type shopping center across from the entrance road to the south. This
12


playground is completely fenced on the perimeter and an additional fence with several
open gates around the preschool area. The first impression of this playground is a wooded
site.
Inspiration playground is within Spring Canyon Community Park. The park provides
additional amenities such as tennis, basketball, dog park, soccer and baseball fields as
well as open grass fields, an intermittent stream and additional parking separate from the
playground parking area. The playground itself is bounded on the east by an elementary
school and single family housing, single family housing to the south, open green fields to
the west and a large grass hill to the north. This playground has no fencing and is open to
the park in all directions. However it sits within a bowl like earth formation that encloses the
east and north sides of the playground. First impression of this playground is wide open
vistas.
3.2 Design Intent
Both playgrounds were designed by landscape architects commissioned by the town or
city. Kids Together playground was a partnership with Little and Little, and Robin Moore
from North Carolina State University. Inspiration Playground was designed by BHA Design
in conjunction with me, as Senior Landscape Architect for the City of Fort Collins Park
Planning Department, and Shanes Inspiration out of Los Angeles, California. Each
playground had the express intent of developing a playground that could bring children of
all abilities together in play. Each had an active group of community partners raising money
to make this goal a reality. Both playgrounds also incorporated a special art type climbing
feature. At Kids Together playground, they have a dragon in the ground called Katal. He
serves as a climbing and imaginative play focus with a tail that collects water for mud and
water play. At Inspiration playground, there is a rock-like Giant that incorporates a climbing
wall, interactive motion sensors for sound, large slide and the Giants hand serves as a
climbing wall, tunnel and finger maze. Each playground incorporates benches through out,
a shelter and restroom facility, parking for the playground itself, open turf areas and bike
racks. The difference between the playgrounds is in the design type.
13


Inspiration playground has a variety of surfaces from grass, sand, processed wood chips
and rubberized surfacing. The equipment areas with the exception of the swings are mostly
on the rubber surface. The design of
this playground relied heavily on the
equipment to provide the integrated
play that was desired by the
community. There are three play
equipment zones that are linked by
concrete walks. The landscape is
predominately deciduous trees on
mown turf and does not visually
enclose any areas. Visibility across this
playground is almost 100% with the
exception of the Giants hand tunnel
tygifcS'
I'

r .&&& " / r&/
Figure 3.1 Inspiration Playground Map
and the mass of the equipment itself.
Kids Together playground,
through the influence of
KIDS TOGETHER PARK
Grttrmgy to
US Huy 1/64
p'e<*ff5tnan Bridge
and MacDonald
Wood* Pari
School-Age
Climb & Slide
School-Age
Discovery
Dragon Hill
Restroom
&
Shelter
Robin Moore, incorporates
planting and natural
features throughout. The
playground encourages
children to interact with the
landscape and the various
cut through areas and worn
turf areas show high use.
The majority of the features
and equipment are on sand.
The entire playground has a
multitude of different levels. Each area appears to have its own setting and environment
with wide concrete pathways that loop around the equipment zones. Visibility across this
playground is limited to each experiential area and it is difficult to see across into the other
equipment zones.
Figure 3.2 Kids Together Playground Map
14


4.
Measurement Design
I have created an evaluative methodology based on the concept of affordances that could
begin to inform landscape architects as to which playground features are the most
successful at emphasizing creative social and imaginative play in preschool children. The
measurement utilizes two processes to achieve this goal, behavior mapping of physical
and social affordances and a pictorial interview with the three to five year old children using
the playgrounds to determine emotional affordances. I call this new measurement
Balanced Environment for Preschool Playgrounds (BEPP).
4.1 Behavior Mapping and SOPLAY
The behavior mapping portion of BEPP is closely related to the method used in the System
for Observing Play and Leisure Activity in Youth (SOPLAY) by Thomas L McKenzie (2006).
BEPP is based on SOPLAYs momentary time sampling. Momentary time sampling
includes systematic scans of a predetermined area that note individuals and their
contextual environment. Each activity is coded and recorded. The time of day, condition of
area, whether play is supervised or unsupervised, temperature, and equipment availability
are noted on each scan. The intent of SOPLAY and BEPP is to be able to compare
physical activity levels in different environments. There are notable differences between
SOPLAY and BEPP, such as BEPP records females and males during the same scan and
SOPLAY records them in consecutive scans. See figure 4.1.
By closely following SOPLAY as an established measure, BEPP can take advantage of the
validity established in the creation of SOPLAYs activity codes. The activity codes
suggested for young children were the basis for the physical activity codes in BEPP, with
the exception of organized sports like basketball and soccer and the division of particular
playground activities like climbing and sliding into two separate categories. In SOPLAY it
was determined that as long as persistent behaviors are taken frequently and at random,
momentary time sampling techniques provide valid behavior observation data.v
15


The SOPLAY measure provided inspiration for the physical observation technique and the
social observation technique along with POEMS, Preschool Outdoor Environment
Measurement Scale. (Karen DeBord, 2005) The POEMS measurement is specifically for
child care settings and not for public playgrounds, However, it included an interaction
domain that inspired the child to child and child to adult portion of BEPP. Unlike POEMS
BEPP did not include child to teacher or child to parent in the social observation portion of
the measure. The social observation uses the momentary time sampling technique but the
social observer is noting a different set of activity codes based on child development
stages found in POEMS interaction domain, Piagets, Ericksons and early childhood
education works.(Erikson, 1956; General Developmental Sequence Toddler through
Preschool," 2010; Karen DeBord, 2005; Marchant, 2002; Mayer Hillman, 1990; Wallace E,
2003; Wasik, 2006) These activity codes were specifically developed to represent the low,
medium, and high levels of social development that children in the three to five age group
move through.Vl See Appendix E for differences between SOPLAY, POEMS and BEPP
and Appendix A for validity and reliability data.
4.2 Interview Process and POEMS
Before beginning this part of BEPP, I had a five year old child who uses the Inspiration
playground frequently take photographs of the different equipment and areas of the
playground from a childs perspective. I then used these pictures and supplemented, with
some that I took, to create a picture collage board for the interviews. In order to determine
how that user perceives the different affordances available at the playground, BEPP uses
pictures from a childs perspective. Pictures taken from a five year olds perspective are
more familiar in angle and scale to the children who would be using the pictures for the
emotional evaluation. The POEMS measure has an interview portion within it as well with
the teacher or care giver of the children. By using the children themselves in a simple
communication technique that does not require reading skills or courage to talk face to face
with an unknown adult, BEPP begins to address the actual emotions of the children using
the playground. See Appendix E for differences between SOPLAY, POEMS and BEPP and
Appendix A for validity and reliability data.
16


4.3 Geographic Information Systems
Geographic Information System (GIS) in the form of ArcMapv" was used to input all of the
data from the behavior mapping and emotional surveys. The data is tied to a graphic
representation of the playgrounds, in this case via AutoCAD drawings. The data was input
into different database categories for each type of observation and interview including,
behavior settings, emotional, social and physical. Each point was allotted the different
aspects of the observations, for instance, a physical point would be input as boy or girl and
the activity code number of what the child was dong at the time of the observation. Once all
of the information was input into the database for each playground, a visual analysis of the
points in mapping form could be constructed. For instance in Figure 5.10 the database was
asked to show only the highest level of physical activity and only the highest level of social
activity in each playground. The attributes of these points could then be used to determine
the location which shows which areas or equipment afford which type of social and
physical affordances. The attributes were also used to compare numerically the differences
and similarities of the two playgrounds per behavior setting area.
This particular measure used hand noted observations and then individual input of the
points into the computer. There is technology available to input the points with their
associated data directly into the database while on site with a hand held GPS locator
device. This eliminates human error in the input of the points and eliminates a time
consuming step in the measurement process.
17


5.
BEPP Methods
The behavior mapping study was completed at each of the two target playgrounds. Each
playground was observed during two separate times on Saturdays and two times during
the week. Each session was approximately one and a half hours in length. See Appendix A
for reliability data.
The behavior mapping was accomplished by two separate investigators acting
simultaneously to record different activity. One investigator watched for physical activity
and the other investigator observed social activity. The investigators followed a specific
path and stood in the same area for observation during each observation period as
mapped out in the behavior setting maps. Each area was observed for a total of 3 minutes,
reading from left to right. Investigators did not count children twice within the same
observational 3 minute setting. The physical activity investigator only marked children who
appeared to be within the target age group. However older and younger children involved
with social interactions were included by the social investigator. Adults were also noted in
social interactions. The social investigator could log in multiple observational criteria codes
per incident where the physical investigator chose one observational criteria code per
incident. Subjects were also noted as either boy or girl and the direction the subject was
moving by the physical activity investigator.
The Kids Together playground was observed at two separate times on the same Saturday
where the average temperature for the day was 53 degrees. There were approximately
100 children present during both Saturday observations. During the week the Kids
Together playground was observed at two separate times on a weekday where the
temperature average was 65 degrees. Observations did not commence until a minimum of
5 children in the appropriate age group were playing on the playground. There was an
average of 10 children on the Kids Together playground throughout both sessions. During
all sessions there was a small area of the Katal feature that was fenced off for repairs. This
area did not include the dragon itself but some of the surfacing adjacent to the head part of
the dragon.
18


The Inspiration playground was observed on two separate Saturdays, one where the
average temperature for the day was 35 degrees and the other, where the temperature
was 60 degrees. During the colder Saturday, there were approximately 60 children playing
on the playground during the observation study. One the warmer Saturday there were
approximately 150 children. During the week the Inspiration playground was observed on 2
separate weekdays where the temperature average was 50 and 44 degrees respectively.
Observations did not commence until a minimum of 5 children in the appropriate age group
were playing on the playground. There was an average of 7 children on the Inspiration
playground throughout both weekday sessions. During the weekday and the colder
Saturday observation there was snow on this playground. The majority of the snow was on
the western grass adjacent to the westernmost sidewalks. However the sand play area
was frozen and had some pockets of snow on it during these observations.
5.1 Observation Criteria
Figure 5.1 outlines the separate behavior observation criteria used when observing the
playground.
Physical Criteria Social Criteria
Sitting Touching
Sedentary game Comfort/hugs/pats
Digging Parallel play
Walking Crying
Manipulative game Eye contact
Sliding Laughter/smiling
Climbing Cooperative play
Jumping Verbal expression
Fitness/dance Naming of place
Running/chase Imaginative game
Figure 5.1 Observation Criteria
19


These were the activities noted by investigators at
each playground. For example in the physical criteria,
a manipulative game would include any physical
activity that requires the child to physically move an
object such as swinging, or spinning a spinner bowl, to
riding a bike. (See Figure 5.2) A sedentary game
would include activities like sitting on a spring toy but
c. not moving. (See
v. Figure 5.3)
Figure 5.2 Manipulative Game
and Cooperative Play
For the social
criteria, cooperative
play included
physical and/or verbal connection between children
and/or adults that helped one participant accomplish a
play task, such as swinging with someone pushing you or
spinning the spinner bowl. (See Figure 5.2)
Parallel play would be two children doing identical
activities but
Figure 5.3 Sedentary Game
not interacting physically or verbally, for
example, two children digging their own hole or
castle in the sand. (See Figure 5.4)
Both the physical and the social criteria had a
hierarchy that was used in determining results.
For the physical it was based on level of activity.
The first 3 categories, sitting, sedentary game
and digging all fell into the sedentary level. The
next 3 categories, walking, manipulative game,
and sliding all were in the walking level of
physical activity. The final categories, climbing, jumping, fitness/dance and running all fell
into the very active level.
Figure 5.4 Parallel Play
20


The social hierarchy included touching, comfort with an adult, parallel play, crying, eye
contact and laughter/smiling as the lowest level of social activity. This level of social
development is most likely associated with 3 year old children. The medium level included
cooperative play and verbal interaction which is most likely associated with 4 year old
children, mature 3 year old children and some 5 year old children. The highest social level
included naming of place, imaginative play and comforting child to child. This category is
most likely associated with the 5 year old children.
5.2 Behavior Settings
Definition of behavior settings: places with functional properties when considered as
dynamic structures of collective behavior (Heft, 2001) Not only did each playground have
approximately the same about of land area, they also had about the same amount of
manufactured play equipment. The behavior settings were also selected based on their
similarity to a previous post evaluation study done on Kids Together Playground (Robin
Moore, 2005). Figure 5.5 and 5.6 demonstrate the settings for each playground. The
settings were then used to provide target areas for determining affordances provided in the
results.
Behavior Settings include:
Preschool -area designed for children in the target age group.
Sand area designed for sand play. This setting does not include other areas listed that
may have equipment on sand.
Giant/Katal specialty art-like climbing features designed for the individual playgrounds.
High Level Equipment-equipment designed for physical capabilities of children, 5 years
and older
School Age equipment designed for physical capabilities of children 5 years and older
but with a ramping system making it accessible to children of all ages
Shelter and Restroom area of shelter, picnic facilities, restroom and associated concrete
Swings swing areas that are physically separate from other equipment not including
preschool tot swings
Landscape areas of playground without equipment and vegetated
Walks area of hard surface such as concrete, stone and/or asphalt
21


Figure 5.5 Inspiration Playground Behavior Settings
22


Walks
Figure 5.6 Kids Together Playground Behavior Settings
23


5.3 Interview Methods
The interview portion of the study was done by taking pictures of
various areas of the playgrounds that could provide a different play
experience in each behavior setting. These pictures were taken by a
5 year old child for the Inspiration Playground and by me following the
precedent set by the 5 year old at Inspiration playground and
squatting down to a 5 year olds visual perspective for the Kids
Together playground. The pictures were then collaged on a 24 x 36
page for each playground. Each child could individually record his emotional response to
the playground on his own sheet. The 4 emotions chosen for representation included
happy, scary, boring and sad.(Brown, 2001) Each child received 4 stickers of each emotion
which she could put on any areas of the playground that influenced her.
Mm MMt
SCAMS SAS
Figure 5.7
Emotional
Categories
Children were asked to do this part of the study
immediately following the observation periods at each
playground. During this portion of the study, I asked the
children to use as many or as few of the total 16 stickers
that they wanted. Most children asked for more happy
stickers but were limited to 4 stickers for each emotion.
Figure 5.8 Interviews at
Inspiration Playground
Parents were encouraged to allow the children to select
whichever area they wanted and only to help with
explanation of the sticker emotion if needed. I asked a
balanced proportion of each age group, 3 thru 5, and
boys and girls for each playground. Each playground
had 18 children complete the interview portion of the
study. All 36 children had their guardian sign the Human
Subject Research Committee consent form prior to the
interview per Human Subject Research Committee
guidelines. (See Appendix D)
24


6.0
BEPP Results
KTP=Kids Together Playground
IP = Inspiration Playground
The following information includes data
comparing the two playgrounds as well as
basic information on how each playground
demonstrates physical, social, and cognitive
play patterns.
Figure 6.1 Observation Session at IP
6.1 Physical and Social Observation Summary
e
s
*
50
40
30
20
10
Blow
medium
boy
234
36.0
girl [total
KM'S Together Playground
boy
24.8
49.6
42.7
11.6
44.6
[girl [total
Inspiration Playground
11.9
51.6
11.7
48.2
Ohigh
40.6
25.7
33.2
43.8
36.6
40.1
Figure 6.2 Physical Observations Summary
In both playgrounds, the most common level of activity is the moderate walking level.
(Figure 6.2) However KTP has 75.9% of children at walk or higher and IP has 88.3% of
children at walk or higher. I had correctly hypothesized that KTP was a slower moving
25


playground. I believe this is at least partially due to the visual separation of specific areas
by plantings and grade changes. The creation of individual spaces that are delineated by
landscape and grade elevation tends to create a room-like atmosphere that encourages a
slower pace to investigate the area.
Figure 6.3 Social Observations Summary
KTP has a higher number of social interactions, 64.1%, compared to physical interactions
than IP at 53.8%. (Figure 6.3) Both playgrounds have the majority of children operating in
the mid range of social development which includes cooperative and verbal play with KTP
at 77.3% and IP at 74.5%. IP has a slightly higher percentage of children at the highest
level of social interaction which includes naming and imaginative play at 12.3% and KTP at
11.3%. However IP has a higher number of child to child social interactions at all levels of
social development and KTP has a higher level of adult to child interactions at all levels of
social development. The stacking of Figure 6.3 clearly shows that children in the lower
level of social development have the lowest child to child interaction and the highest adult
interaction socially. The IP playground is showing the largest switch in that trend as the
children become more socially adept the child to child interactions are growing at a
proportionately faster rate than the KTP playground. Since IP is a much more visually open
26


playground, adults allow children more freedom to interact without their immediate
presence. More unstructured free play without immediately adjacent adult supervision is
available at IP.
6.2 Results of Physical Affordances
At the Inspiration playground the largest percentages of physical activity in the very active
level occurs on the school age equipment. A close second in percentages is the preschool
area but if you refer to figure 6.4 this activity takes place almost exclusively on the moving
features like the merry-go-round. The rest of the very active activity appears to take place
on the Giants hand.
The walking level of physical activity is also mainly on the school age equipment and the
walks. This level of activity is a bit less diverse in percentages across the site. The
sedentary level is also on the school age equipment with walks and landscape immediately
behind that percentagewise and then the sand play area. In summary IP physical activity
has a more diverse and fairly equal level of physical activity in the various behavior settings
with the most active area being the school age equipment area.
IP Physical Affordances
o Very active
25.3% school age equipment
24.1% preschool
16.5% Giant/Hand
12.7% walks/landscape
o Walking
35.5% walks/landscape
29.5% school age equipment
16.8% preschool
o Sedentary
30.4% school age equipment
30.4% walks/landscape
26.1% sand
27


Legend
Sedentary
Physical Affordances
Figure 6.4 Inspiration Playground Physical Affordances
28


At KTP the very active level and walking level of physical activity have the majority of
observations on the walks and landscape. When you view the map in figure 6.5 in
comparison to the map of IP in figure 6.4, the very active levels of activity are mush more
diverse across the playground.
The school age equipment does show up in the upper percentages of very active and
walking but at a much lower percentage than in the IP playground. The sedentary level is
mostly in the picnic area and the preschool area with once again sand play making an
appearance in this area.
Overall in summary KTP appears to have a lower diversity of physical affordances with the
majority of activity on walks and landscape. However when reviewing the actual map, KTP
shows a more balanced scattering of activity observed across the entire playground site
while IP shows the majority of activity observed in select high activity areas.
KTP Physical Affordances
o Very active
52.1 % walks/landscape
19.2% school age equipment
13.7% Katal
o Walking
38.3% walks/landscape
19.1% swings
18.1% school age equipment
o Sedentary
30.2% shelter/restroom/picnic
24.5% preschool
15.1% sand
29


Figure 6.5 Kids Together Playground Physical Affordances
30


6.3
Results of Social Affordances
The social affordances at the IP playgrounds are very specific to equipment and giant/hand
areas and some on the walks. Preschool area and the Giants hand are the highest
percentage of high level social activity. In figure 6.6 you can see this is activity is almost
entirely on the merry-go-round piece of equipment in the northwest corner of the preschool
area.
Observations of medium level social activity seem a bit more balanced but the majority of
observations are still concentrated in the equipment areas of the playground. Observations
of low level social activity, which are probably the 3 year olds, are located mostly on the
walks and in a few cases in the landscape immediately adjacent to walks.
IP playground shows the majority of social interaction occurring in the equipment areas of
the playground.
IP Social Affordances
o High
30.8% preschool (super nova)
30.8% Giant/Hand
23.1% school age equipment
o Medium
34.2% school age equipment
24.1 % walks/landscape
19.0% Giant/Hand
10.1% preschool
o Low
50% walks/landscape
28.6% school age equipment
31


Figure 6.6 Inspiration Playground Social Affordances
32


KTP shows a larger diversity of behavior settings with noted social affordances. The
highest level of social activity is occurring almost evenly across 4 different behavior setting
areas. The medium level of social activity is occurring across 5 levels with almost even
percentages of activity in each area, the highest percentage in the walks/landscape areas.
The lowest level of social activity which is probably the 3 year old children is showing the
majority in the walks and landscape area with the map in figure 6.7 clarifying that this
activity is almost exclusively on walks or in the school age equipment settings.
Of all the levels of social activity the majority of children at KTP are operating in the
medium level which would be mature 3 year olds, 4 year old and some 5 year olds. This
playground shows a very balanced map of the medium level and to a lesser extent, low
and high levels, of activity across the entire playground.
KTP Social Affordances
o High
25.0% school age equipment
18.8% preschool
18.8% High level equipment
18.8% walks/landscape
o Medium
29.4% walks/landscape
17.4% preschool
17.4% school age equipment
14.7% swings
10.1% sand
o Low
68.8% walks/landscape
25% school age equipment
33


Social Affordances
Legend
High Social \
O Medium Social
Low Social
|__| Preschool
| | Sand
Katal
Higher Level Equipment
School Age Equipment
Shelter and Restroom
Swings
Landscape
Walks
Figure 6.7 Kids Together Playground Social Affordances
34


6.4 Results of Physical and Social Affordances Together
In figure 6.8 I am combining the social and physical observations to see where the medium
social, which is the most often displayed social level, happens in conjunction with the very
active physical activity level. This is represented by where the green dots of the social are
overlaid by the red squares of the physical activity. At IP Playground you see there is more
physical activity present than in figure 6.9. The IP playground also shows the highest
incidence of social interaction with this level of physical activity in the school age
equipment area, 34.2%, with a high incidence of interaction at the Giants hand as well.
35


In figure 6.9 there are less of the red squares indicating high physical activity but they
conjoin with the green circles of high social interaction throughout the playground, The
highest incidences of this interaction occur in the walks behavior setting 29.4%. These
maps figure 6.8 and 6.9 show the actual locations within the behavior settings that are
most successful at generating the high level of physical activity with social interactions. At
this playground the opportunity for this behavior is more evenly balanced across the whole
playground.
Figure 6.9 Medium Social and Very Active Physical KTP
36


A the majority of children in each playground are operating at this level of social and
physical activity the following figures 6.10 and 6.11 show the most incidences of social and
physical affordances in each playground. The IP playground shows more balance across
the site at this level of interaction but still concentrate the most incidence of social and
walking physical on the equipment pieces such as the giant slide, the sway fun and the
platforms of the school age equipment.
37


KTP playground also shows balance across all areas of the playground with interactions
happening in many places such as the school age, walks, swings, sand and preschool. In
the school age most of the social interactions are occurring on the ramps and platforms
while the swings appear to have the most interactions of all.
Figure 6.11 Medium Social and Walking Physical KTP
38


At the sedentary level by comparing figures 6.12 and 6.13 there are more physical
incidences at the KTP playground. However at IP the equipment, especially the sand play
and the sway fun have the most affordances for this level of social and physical play, with
several incidents at the benches observing the play area as well.
39


At the KTP playground, the medium level of social and sedentary level of physical play
manifests almost exclusively at the picnic area adjacent to the school age play area and in
the preschool area. Specifically this activity in the preschool area is centered on the
playhouse structures.
Figure 16.13 Medium Social and Sedentary Physical KTP
40


6.5 Physical and Social Observation Discussion
Of the 197 physical observations at IP there were 106 social interactions or 53.8%. Of the
220 physical observations at KTP there were 141 social interactions or 64.0%. I had
hypothesized that KTP would be a slower moving playground and therefore would have
more social development and interaction. This appears to be correct.
At IP, the youngest children, or lowest social level, have the most social interactions at the
walking physical level although all levels of physical activity for this social level are about
equal. The medium social level, or mid-range aged children, has the most social interaction
in the sedentary physical activity level. However the oldest children, or highest social level,
have the most social interactions at the very active physical activity level. At KTP this is
similar with the lowest social level about equal across the physical levels and the middle
social level also in the sedentary physical level. However at KTP the highest social level,
what is probably the 5 year olds, is also at the sedentary physical level in direct contract to
the IP playground.
Both playgrounds have a higher majority of girls participating in the observations at the
walking and very active physical levels. The number of boys to girls is equal in the
sedentary physical levels. The hypothesis that girls need a slower physical pace for social
interaction is true for the medium social development level in which the majority of children
in both playgrounds operating within. More analysis of this data could show whether this is
true for the boys as well.
Although KTP has the most social interaction, when you include the adults, it has a lower
child to child social interaction across the all levels of social development. The measure
seems to indicate that the perception of safety and visibility is a larger factor in how willing
parents are to allow unstructured free play without parental interventions. As the parents
were given the ability to observe their children from a distance the further they allowed their
children to move away from them. The more the children perceived freedom from parental
observation, the more the children tended to develop social interactions with other children.
This could be an interesting area of further study with perhaps included interviews with
parents as to their perception of safety and visibility in each playground.
41


Comparing the playground activity levels with the social interactions begins to make the
areas of the playgrounds demonstrating the most affordances for social interaction
apparent. The two playgrounds do show different affordances for different levels of social
interaction. For instance looking at the highest social interactions, KTP playground shows
the opportunity for more high social interaction in a greater variety of locations. In other
words it is a more balanced playground offering affordances for social interaction in more
areas across the playground. The IP playground also affords high social interactions, but
they appear to be much more limited to specific equipment that is easily manipulated by
more than one child, such as the merry-go-round and in the specialty feature the giants
hand. The majority of all levels of social interaction at IP are happening on these two types
of features alone.
O IP is the more active playground
O KTP is the more balanced playground
O KTP shows more affordances for social interaction while IP shows more
children with unstructured play potential
O Both playgrounds show majority of children operating in medium social
level with most of the medium social occurrences happening at sedentary
physical level.
O IP has more high social interaction at the highest physical activity level
O Both playgrounds demonstrate ability of measure to track social and
physical play balance
6.6 Emotion Interview Summary
The IP emotional results show happiest area is the equipment. KTP shows happiest area
with the school age equipment. However happy is pretty even across KTP area and
significantly skewed in all age groups towards equipment at IP. See Figure 6.14. Scary
basically follows happy with a few spikes from the 3 year olds not understanding the
pictures. (I.e. marking the KTP entrance sign and map as scary.) See Figure 6.15. Both
playgrounds show the preschool area as one of the most boring areas of the playground.
See figure 6.16. Interestingly the saddest area of IP is also the equipment. Both
42


playgrounds show walks/landscape as one of the saddest areas of each playground, this is
very much in evidence at KTP for the 5 year old boys. See Figure 6.17.
Figure 6.14 Results for Happy
43


44


45


46


6.7 Results of Emotion Affordances
In both playgrounds it is noticeable that the areas of happy and scary tend to coincide. At
KTP this occurred most often in the swings and in the school age equipment area. To
lesser extent it also occurred in the preschool area. The higher level equipment area
tended to be marked as scary frequently as did the sand climber in the sand play area.
Figure 6.18 Happy and Scary Emotional Affordances at KTP
47


At the IP playground happy and scary also tended to be in the same areas. In this
playground the school age equipment, especially the spinner item and the chimes, and the
preschool area received a lot of happy notes while the higher level equipment area once
again received the scariest designation.
Figure 6.19 Happy and Scary Emotional Affordances at IP
48


At KTP sad and bored also tended to run together with the highest specific pieces affording
these emotions occurring in the higher level equipment area and the ramping system in the
preschool area. Overall these appeared to be fairly well distributed across the entire
playground area.
Figure 6.20 Bored and Sad Emotional Affordances at KTP
49


At IP the sad and bored items tended to be the school age equipment and the preschool
equipment pieces. There were a larger number of hits on the landscaped grass areas as
well although the majority of the marking was done on the equipment itself with a high level
of marks on the chimes.
Figure 6.21 Bored and Sad Emotional Affordances at IP
50


6.8 Emotion Interview Discussion
Interestingly KTP has a more balanced emotional response from the children across the
various behavior settings. In other words the entire playground affords a variety of
emotional response in a variety of places. IP tended to have the majority of emotional
responses on the equipment pieces only. Some of the included emotional responses were
a bit strange. For instance several of the KTP children marked the entry sign and map as
scary or sad, probably due to being unfamiliar with them and trying to find something to
use stickers on. This influences the walks and landscape settings perhaps unfairly. Many
of the IP children marked the chimes portion of the equipment area as boring or sad. The
chimes are free standing stationary equipment that probably should have been located in
the preschool area of the playground. The maps above represent all response no matter
how strange. I did eliminate one childs responses from each playground. One was
eliminated because the child, at KTP, insisted all stickers were happy since there werent
enough happy stickers. The other child, at IP, was discovered to actually not be 3 years old
yet and marked only pictures within the bottom third of the board that were within easy
reach.
o KTP shows more emotional balance across all areas of emotional response for
each age group
o IP shows a skewed emotional response, for all emotions, mainly in the
equipment area
o Both playgrounds show the preschool area as the one of the most boring
areas for 4 and 5 years old children especially.
It is important to note that the various emotions provided by the children represent an
emotional response that is valid data. When KTP shows a more balanced playground for
emotional response it is because there is some emotional response in the children that use
it across the entire playground area, not necessarily just happy responses.
51


7.
Data Limitations
It was difficult to observe and note social interactions in the short time frame of a SOPLAY
based evaluation. This measure used a 3 minute time window and sometimes a social
interaction takes longer than that time frame to develop. The social investigator needs to
be close enough to hear verbal cues and see facial expressions. People tend to move
away from areas when they see you observing the area. However for this measure to be
successful, you need to be fairly close in order to appropriately observe and record social
interactions. During this study I had limited observations to be a minimum of 5 children on
the playground. I believe the measure is more accurate with larger number of children
participating at one time. People do not move away from the observers as much if there is
a larger sampling of children to watch, safety in numbers type syndrome.
It was difficult to coordinate physical and social observational hits with each other if the two
investigators are not synchronized in how they view each area. They need to work together
to be sure they are viewing the behavior setting areas at the same time. Practice helps and
the investigators got better at coordinating and evaluating as the study progressed. The
social interaction would have benefited from a way to mark adult and child locations
separately at a distance. I would recommend more training of the social and physical
observer in order to coordinate where they are looking at what moment during the 3 minute
window. A period of at least 2 practice observations in each behavior setting at a new
playground prior to collecting official data would help the two investigators synchronize
their observations.
It was practically impossible to schedule observations prior to doing them. Numbers of
children were too lowvl" on attempted scheduled weekdays and it turned out to be more
productive to observe during high times of use like the weekends. However it was difficult
to judge childrens age during the weekend observations. On the weekdays there were
fewer children and since observations were run during school hours, the observers could
be fairly certain the children they were observing were within the right age group or
52


obviously younger. Also too many children on the playground during the weekends made it
very difficult to catch all of the potential interactions in the 3 minute time window. Using the
same social and physical investigator at both playgrounds for all observations helped to
keep the perception of age of the children at least consistent throughout the study. Utilizing
investigators that are familiar with the target age group also helps them to identify the
children on a busy weekend.
Climate, culture and park type could have influenced data gathered between the two
playgrounds. More playgrounds included in the study would give a broader evaluation of
affordances. More data from a larger variety of playgrounds would provide for better
validity. There was snow on IP during 3 of the 4 observations and there was a repair to the
surfacing near the head of Katal during all observations at KTP. Both of these conditions
could have affected data at each playground. Although limiting participation at these very
popular playgrounds by running the study during the fall helps facilitate observations, it
also allowed for potential reductions of use in specific areas due to weather conditions
such as frozen sand. Earlier in the fall, such as September, would have been a better
option for the study timing in order to minimize these conditions.
The emotional section of the measure can be compared with the physical and social areas
of affordances but is limited by the picture locations not only within the playgrounds but
also even in where the pictures are positioned on the page. It would have been more valid
to create individual picture pages that have the pictures of the different behavior setting
areas in different locations on the page and distribute these randomly to the children. The
pictures themselves should have had more pilot study done by taking many more pictures
of the areas by other age groups of children as well as the 5 year olds.
53


8.
Conclusions
Perception of safety limits child to child interaction and therefore social interactions.
Unstructured play is necessary for children in this age group to develop appropriate social
and cognitive skills. The natural integrated playground had more social interaction but the
majority of this interaction was child to adult. I believe this was due to the nature integration
of the site limiting visibility and lowering parental comfort level to allow the children to
participate in unstructured play. BEPP allowed observation of this particular relationship
but further research, which would include interview with parents, would be needed to see if
parental perspectives coincide with my assumption. The opportunity for social interaction
was available in a larger variety of locations throughout the nature integrated playground
than in the equipment based playground. In other words, there were higher incidents of
social interaction at the equipment based playground but they were limited to a few distinct
areas and not balanced across the playground. The equipment based playground was
higher in physical activity level than the nature integrated playground.
The majority of children in both playgrounds were operating in the medium social level. At
the lowest social level, in both playgrounds, the children were experiencing social
interaction at a fairly balanced rate of all physical levels. At the medium social level, in both
playgrounds, the majority of children had social interactions at the sedentary physical level.
As the majority of children displayed the medium social level, his is the most frequent
observation at both playgrounds. The nature integrated playground also had the children at
the highest social level experiencing social interactions at the sedentary level while the
equipment based playground had its highest social level children experiencing the most
social interaction at the very active physical level.
Emotional data show the nature integrated playground has a more balanced emotional
response and less boredom than the equipment based playground. Although both
playgrounds are high in the preschool area for boredom, as hypothesized when beginning
this study, it is interesting to note that equipment although the highest in happiness is also
the highest in boredom, indicating that it loses its charm quickly over time. Nature
54


integrated play appears to hold emotional value in all areas throughout the 3 to 5 age
period and for the cost, would be more beneficial for emotional development in this age
group.
Conclusion 1
Does current playground design emphasizing physical activity levels inhibit social,
cognitive and emotional interactions in preschool age children?
o The most social activity occurred with the sedentary physical activity, except at
IP where the high social level activity occurred with the very active physical
activity. As preschool age children are developing their social skills, they have
the best opportunity to do so at lower physical activity levels. By the time they
reach the high social skill level, they begin to incorporate their social skills
with higher physical activity levels.
Conclusion 2
Does nature integrated into playground design encourage a more even balance of
social and physical interactions in preschool age children?
o The nature integrated playground provided more balanced levels of physical
activity, more affordances for social activity and the preschool aged children
interviewed provided a more balanced emotional response to the different play
opportunities.
Conclusion 3
BEPP was easy to use and could be accomplished within a week of observations at an
unknown playground with minimal training and document preparation before observation
periods. It would be possible to turn the GIS format, used for the data analysis, into a
package program that would allow input of data directly onto a graphic of any playground.
Additionally if the graphic was tied to real world coordinates, a researcher could use a GPS
locator to input the data directly into the GIS while doing the observations, eliminating a
time consuming data entry step and potential data input mistakes.
55


9.
Direction for Further Study
There is a wealth of opportunity in utilizing the GIS data system to analyze the data. I was
specifically trying to answer the questions posed at the beginning of this research. The
data gathered could also be utilized to analyze the playgrounds for their physical and social
benefit via the sex of the participants. The emotional data could be reevaluated to analyze
by ages. The emotional data could also be mapped with the physical and social data to see
if there are corresponding affordances to inform what areas of the playground are more
successful than others.
In order to further validate my research, more playgrounds should be observed and
evaluated in different regions of this country and beyond. The two playgrounds were
chosen due to their similarities and popularity. BEPP would need to be used on
playgrounds with less equipment or no equipment at all, as well as playgrounds that offer a
different type of equipment. Choosing similar playgrounds helped me to evaluate BEPPs
validity and reliability but now it would be more important to use BEPP to gather data on
playgrounds that have been designed by landscape architects in a larger variety of
locations with a larger variety of design approaches. The evaluation of a playground can
provide information for future renovations, future designs and the growth of public
playground use as the space for child play is further limited in the future.
56


APPENDIX A VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY
SOPLAY reliability data: Data was collected during 14 days of field assessment. A pair of
assessors would simultaneously and independently make counts of boys and girls in each
activity category in selected target areas. Activity counts from a total of 186 target areas
were used in the reliability analysis. Inter-observer agreements for the five contextual
variables were 95%, 97%, 93%, 96% and 88%, for area accessibility, usability, presence of
supervision, presence of organized activity, and provision of equipment, respectively. To
examine the reliability of activity counts made by different assessors, a series of intraclass
correlations were computed. Correlations were high for sedentary girls (R=.98) and walking
girls (R=.95) although lower counts of very active girls (.76). For boys, correlation were
high for sedentary (.98), walking (.98) and very active (.97) behavior. It was concluded that
all inter-observer agreements and intra-class correlation met acceptable criteria (IOA=80%,
R=.75) for reliable assessment.
POEMS reliability data: There is evidence of internal consistency presented by Cronbachs
alpha at .87 for the full scale. And there is internal consistency alpha data provided for
each domain with percentages of inter-observer reliability. In two of the domains the alpha
data is high .78 and .68 and then it drops to .58, .50 and .52 for other 3 domains.
Interesting enough the higher scores is in the interactions and play and learning settings.
These two domains appear to be the most subjective of the domains. The reliability for
internal consistency is based on Cronbach's alpha noted at .87 for entire scale though the
individual domains are less strong.
BEPP reliability data: The new measure was tested by two pairs of independent assessors
who simultaneously and independently marked social and physical observations in
selected target areas. 74 Activity counts from a total of 15 target areas were used in this
reliability analysis. Inter observer agreements were 81.8% and 90.9 % for social
observation and 90.9 and 63.3% for physical observations. Correlation between social
observers was R=.675. Correlation between physical observers was R=.714.
57


APPENDIX B SAMPLE OF BEHAVIOR MAPPING OBSERVATION SHEETS
Physical Measure for Pre-school Children
Am 1 sand play g=jh s-txjy
V"
Condition of Arta
A acciaafcla 8 utaabla ftthorftopaifij
8 tuporvlMd but not pofttcMBne
P adult omiom oetMty
N natural metadata uood
E permanent oquipmant uaod
Activity Coda*
0 unevuctured ptaytaWng e cHmblng
1 aedentary gome 7 jumping
2 9B*f 6 fttnoiird
3 4 5 waMng manipulative game adding 9 running
Enow Leveta
0-2 Sodantary
3-6 WMdnglavW
M vary AdNo
K Tt- / , > r>
/ l ap
MKtwthMiriBrMiMiitmaa hwcwsaaooao rail Iftonaw mhwj
58


Physical Maaaurt for Pra-achool Children
Vw 2 tot Structure Ggirt B=boy A^aduit
YM Condition cf Area
____ A ecceeafcle A uisatu (weator/mpeir*)
____ 8 M9*rviMdbutnotprtciptlne
____ P adult eeetoied ecSvity
____ N natural metadata ueed
1 6 permanent equipment used
Acttrtty Cede*
0 unekuctumd ptayfcMng
1 sedentary game
2 digging
3 waiting
4 merripuMKra game
6 Mng
6 cimbing
7 JunfUng
8 HtneeaMance
9 runnlngtegfcheee
energy levels
0-2 Sedentary
3-5 WUMng level
6-8 UeryActiue
rwwMiiawec# H$ncAMacrr ae-iau nmmmiwwOreicj tu>wmnoa
59


Physical Moasure for Pre-school Children
Area 3 MiseTot Ptay G=gH B=boy
YM_CondKten of Area
A >ctwtM> & utaabla (waatiar/repaira)
S auparvtaad but not participating
P adutt aaaiatad actMty
N natural matartad need
E permanent eqwpmant uaed
ActJvtty Cedaa
0 unatuctured play/aWng
1 eedanieiy game
2 digging
3 waiting
4 manipvWfce game
5 adding
fldieaa'danoe
rumingAagfchaaa
Energy Leveta
04 Sadantary
VMfcing lava*
9-0 Vary Active
wKnawaMM nsc Awee# *-ie r*T**~**"< £*>+"*> *'+i*o"****i
60


Social A Cognitive Measure for Pre-echool Children
^ tend play
Cachild to dMd Iwtoftdion A*cMW to adult Intoractton

y/N CendWon af Araa
A
8
P aduR aaaMad adMy
N natural material* uaad
E parmanantagulpmaMvaad
ActMeCaeaa
0 touching 8 paraM play
1 comfertftHjga/pai* 7 jmegineryPoto playing
2 caopartoiwa play 8 aya contact
S wotoa/varbal aapia talon 9 crying
0-2 PhyUcai
94 VOrtoal
M BnoHomI
6 naming location
61


Social 4 Cognitive Measure for Pre-school Children
Aref tot structure OcMM to cMU intoractor
Y/N CooSWon oT Area ActMlyCeSea
A act-tola A nhM (weather/repoii*) 0 toutfling 6 parsMefptoy
8 ouperviaetf SMI Mt pMdpMing 1 aomtoflftnigi^peta 7 (megtnery/mie playing
P MmindMMy 2 cooperative piay eye contact
N natural materiela uead S worSarverfeel expreeeion oying
E permanent equipment ueeO 4 laughler/emHe
S naming location
leva
0*2 Pnyeicai
14 VwUi
9 emotional

62


Social l> Cognitive Measure for Pre-echool Children
Are? MiSC Tot Ptey CcftiU ta cNM interaction
A=ch*d to adul interaction
VM CandlSen of Aim
____ A ieoiafcli t waatole
____ S >jpery*d but not participating
____ p eduR mhM toMy
____ N natural meteriata wed
I E permanent equipment wed
MMyMN
0 touching
1 eomfofVhugMpeta
2 cooperative p
3 woraiAerbel a>VM**on 9 crying
4 teuBMetfamfte
5 naming location
63


Social & Cognitive Measure lor Pra-achool Children
Araa 1 preschool south CchHd to chid interaction
A*chid to adult interaction
inf1'*
Q£
X
Y/N_ Condition of Araa
A accaaaibla & usaabta (weathar/ropairs)
S aupervtaed but not participating
P adut aaaiited activity
N natural matenate uaad
E parmanant aquipmant usad
0 touching
1 comtort/huga^ata
2 oooparsttva pity
S wordaAtartial aiqyaatlofl
6 partial play
7 knagmary/rote piaytng
8 ayaoontacl
9 crying
S naming location
0*2 Physical
3*S Varbai
6-9 Emotional
nan'r*nwfpf. Kstmt* ao**cf xwcftawrw-igj? ng>.' Occupancy fvaftja/gn
64


Social A Cognitive Measure for Pre-school Children
Asm 2 preschool west OchW to ch Intorecten A=chikl to adiAt intaraefcxi
Y/N^CendtHen of Area
A accaaaibia & umMi (waaihartepairt)
S aupafvlMd but not participating
P aduH Masted adMty
N netureJ metwtate ueed
E patmanant aoulpmant uaad
ActMty Codaa
0 touching
1 cuwfcinihugvpati
2 oooparativa play
iwrda/whel e*preeaton
taughttrtama*
naming beaten
paralai play
ImaglnafyJ'rola playing
eyt contact
aytng
lavafa
02 Physical
3-5 VafM
6-fl Emolonai
65


Social & Cognitive Measure for Pre-school Children
Araa 3 preschool east OchW to chid interaction
A*ehld to adult Interaction
V/N CondWon of Artt
A acoauibte A uabte (waattwAapeire)
9 auparvteed but not paritotwting
P adult aatiated acevity
N natural matertete uaad
E parmantnt equipment uaad
ActMty Coda*
0 touching
1 comfort/hugs/pets
2 ooopaitla play
3 wortiaNerbel eapreeelon
4 leughterAmBe
5 namtog location
6 partial ptey
7 imaginary** playing
8 aya contact
8 crying
0-2 Physical
34 Vartat
64 Emotional
AHotw Innagm Atetern BrnmitU mfiCtrnWtnm Wte"te*Octi'ryi
66


A*eduit
Physical Measure for Pre-school Children
1 preschool south
a:
G*girt B-boy
'rh
#>r
\
v/N Condition of Atm
____ A ecoeaeible A iMitM (wwther/repein)
9 tupwvtMd but not participating
____ P adult owIlKd actMy
__ N natural matariaii used
____ E permanent equipment need
AaMtyCoin
0 unetrocturad playWtUng
1 eadenery game
2 digging
3 weidng
4 manipulate game
5
6 climbing
7 jumping
6 ftneet/denoe
0 rimninQfeg/cbaee
04
3-6 Waiting levd
6-0 Very ActM
rnmmtewto H8*CPMQeal*0*-10U EwrCCT-nty
67


)
Physical Measure for Pre-school Children
An* 2 preschool west B=t>oy
_Y*< Condition f Atm
____ A ocoeMiblo 4 JMoblo (woothorAspoira)
_ 8 auporviMd but not participating
____ P adult aaalaied activity
___ N natural motariala uaad
~r J E permanent equipment uaad
Activity Codee 0 unetructued ptayraltting 6 climbing
1 eedentary geme 7 jumping
2 digging 6 fttneeWdence
3 MNng 9 nmninQnegrchaee
4 manipulate geme
5 tftfne
Energy laveta
04 Sedentary
3-6 Wafting level
64 Very Active
AHflfrQ Mumptor Kaf**i Onwea MSWC Aiccie oa-fQM F*nm*4H*lOK^MCj.
68


Physical Measure for Pre-school Children
3 preschool east 6=9* Bboy A*adl*
YZN CondiSor of Aree
____ A ecceMfcle A useefaia (weetterAepeiri)
____ $ supervised but not pertiopetine
__ P eduk eeeisted ectMty
___ N neturel meierieie used
1 E permenent equipment used
ActMty Codes
unetructured pley/ettbng
edentery peme
dtggino
eeWnQ
manipuietNq peme
0 ctbnping
7 Jumping
6 fttneee/dence
8 runntngAepAohet
Energy Levels
05 Sedenttty
V5 WeMdng level
6-8 VeryActtve
ft*icpef Ini piBr KeffiOei Beaedfct HSPC ftwoca* 0-f0 HOypoMntf tan OecHMury ftetutton Method
69


APPENDIX C SAMPLE INTERVIEW BOARDS FROM BOTH PLAYGROUNDS
70


Boy 4 years old
SMIfiHaWB
Girl 4 years old
71


Inspiration Playground 2/3/10 12:00pm
Girl 3 years old
72


73


APPENDIX D HUMAN SUBJECT RESEARCH COMMITTEE APPROVAL DOCUMENTS
Cdaredo MirtpM littfftrinml Review Boert
1X01 E17T PUce
BUtt ng SOO. Roan N3214
Aunn, Ctfoiedo 40010 7246
Maiing A44:
Hal Step F-480
P.O. 6c*6S06
Awtra.Co600i&6SD6
303.724 1066 (Phone]
303.724.0990 (Fax]
uchso.edu/comifti (Web]
comlrb@ucdenver.edu (E-Mail]
FWA00003070 [FWA]
Urcv-a1yofCotar4o HceptoJ
Oenw HeMti Medical Cenir
Veteran's Admlristatoc Madkal Genlr
TheChMren's Hospital
Unversity of Colorado Denver
Cdando Revenlon Cents-
Certificate of Approval
0B-Jan-2010
Investigator:
Sponsors):
Subject:
Effective Date:
Expiration Date:
Expedited Category:
Title:
Kathleen Benedict
COMIRB Protocol 09-1032 Initial Application
08-Jar>-2010
07-Jan-20l 1
7
Ray ground Post Occupancy Evaluation Method
All COMIRB Approved Investigators must comply with the following:
. Forthe duration of your protocol, any change in the experimental design/consent and/or assent form must be approved
by the COMIRB before implementation of the changes
Use only a copy of the COMIRB signed and dated Consent and/or Assent Form The investigator bears the responsibility
for obtaining from all subjects "informed Consent" as approved by the COMIRB. The COMIRB REQUIRES that the
subject be given a copy of the consent and/or assent form. Consent and/or assent forms must include the name and
telephone number of the Investigator
. Provide non-English speaking subjects with a certified translation of the approved Consent and/or Assent Form In tne
subject's first language.
. The Investigator also bears the responsibility tor informing the COMIRB immediately of any Unanticipated Problems that
are unexpected and related to the study in accordance with COMIRB Policy and Procedures
. Obtain COMIRB approval for all advertisements, questionnaires and surveys before use.
. Federal regulations require a Continuing Review to renew approval of this project within a 12-month period from the last
approval date unless otherwise indicated in the review cycle listed below If you have a nestricted/high risk protocol,
specific details will be outlined in this letter. Non-compliance with Continuing Review will result in the termination of this
study
You will be sent a Continuing Review reminder 75 days prior to the expiration dale. Any questions regarding this COMIFtB
action can be referred to the Coordinator at 303-724-1055 or UCHSC Box F-490.
Review Comments:
Approval Includes:
Application for Protocol Review
Attachment A Multi-Site
Attachment F Expedited Review
Attachment H Research Involving Minors
Protocol
Consent
Flyer
Phone Script
Observable Behavior Measure
Interview Measure
Sincerely.
UCD Panel S
74


APPENDIX E SOPLAY, POEMS AND BEPP COMPARISON TABLE
SOPLAY New Measure
Similarities
uses momentary time sampling uses momentary time sampling
systematic scans of predetermined areas systematic scans of predetermined areas
Recorded each scan: Recorded each scan:
Activities coded Activities coded
time of day time of day
condition of playground condition of playground
supervised or unsupervised supervised or unsupervised
temperature temperature
eguipment availability equipment availability
Differences
Measuring Physical Activity Only Measuring Physical and Social Activity
separate scans for boys and girls notes boy or girl in physical activity one scan
Momentary time sampling 5 minutes Momentary time sampling 3 minutes
Physical Activity Codes for young children: Physical Activity Codes:
no specific activity (sit, stand,walk) unstructured play/sitting
fitness/aerobics (dance/step aerobics) sedentary game
baseball/softball digging
basketball/volleyball walking
dance/gymnastics manipulative game
soccer/football sliding
climbing/sliding climbing
jumping games jumping
manioulative games/raquet activities fitness/dance
sedentary games/activities running/tag/chase
none of the other 10 categories See Social Criteria Figure 5.3
tag/chasing games
POEMS New Measure
Similarities
interaction domain in social observation child to child and child to adult observations
interview portion interview portion
Differences
Designed for Child Care Settings Designed for Public Park Settings
child to teacher interactions not included
child to care giver interactions not included
interviews with teacher/caregiver interview with children using visual technique
75


BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bjorklid, P. (1984). Children's Outdoor Environment from the Perspective of Environmental
and Developmental Psychology. Paper presented at the Environment and Human
Action (Proceedings 8th International Conference of the IAPS).
Brown, M. (2001). Feelings Chart Retrieved 10/10/09, 2009, from http://www-
tc.pbskids.orq/arthur/parentsteachers/lesson/health/pdf/FeelinqsChart eng.pdf
Bruner, J. S. (1961). The Act of Discovery. Harvard Educational Review, 31, 237.
Chawla, L. (2007). Childhood Experiences Associated with Care for the Natural World: A
Theoretical Framework for Empirical Results. Children, Youth and Environments,
17(4), 144-170.
Cole, M. C. a. S. R. (2001). The Development of Children (4th ed.). New York: Worth.
Elkind, D. (2007). The power of play: how spontaneous, imaginative activities lead to
happier, healthier children. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Lifelong.
Eriksen, A. (1985). Playground design : outdoor environments for learning and
development. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
Erikson, E. (1956). Stages of Social-Emotional Development In Children and Teenagers
Retrieved 3/8/2010, 2010, from
http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/development/erickson.print.shtml
Fisman, L. (2001). Child's Play: An empiracle study of the relationship between the
physical form of schoolyards and children's behavior. MESc, 44. Retrieved from
http://www.vale.edu/hixon/research/pdf/LFisman Plavqrounds.pdf
Fromberg, D. F. (1992). A review of research on play. In C. Seefeldt (Ed ), The early
childhood curriculum: A review of current research (pp. 42-84). New York:
Teachers College Press.
Gallagher, W. (1994). The power of place : how our surroundings shape our thoughts,
emotions, and actions (1st HarperPerennial ed ). New York: HarperPerennial.
General Developmental Sequence Toddler through Preschool (2010). Retrieved 3/8/10,
2010, from
http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/development/devsequence.print.shtml
76


Gibson, E. J. (1982, 1982). Chapter 3 The concept of affordances in development; The
renascence of functionalism. Paper presented at the Book published: The Concept
of Development. From the conference:The Minnesota symposium on child
development, Hillsdale, N.J.
Government, U. S. (2006-2008). American Community Survey 3 Year Estimates, from
http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html? Ianq=en.
Hart, R. (2003). Ideology in the Landscapes of Childhood. Paper presented at the Spring
Lecture Series, University of Colorado Boulder, College of Architecture and
Planning.
Heft, H. (1988). Affordances of Children's Environments: A Functional Approach to
Environmental Description. Children's Environments Quarterly, 5(No. 3), 29-37.
Heft, H. (2001). Ecological Psychology in Context: James Gibson, Roger Barker and the
Legacy of William Jame's Radical Empiricism. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Herrington, S. (1997). The Received View of Play and the Subculture of Infants.
Landscape Journal, 16(Number 2), 149-160.
Hurwitz, S. C. (2003). To Be Successful Let them Play! Childhood Education,
Winter^2002/2003), 27-28.
Jost, D. (2008). Too Cool (Just) for School. Landscape Architecture, (August),
Kaplan, R. a. S. (1995). The experience of nature: a psychological perspective. Anne
Arbor, Michigan. Ulrich's Bookstore.
Kaplan, R. S. (1989). The Experience of Nature: A Psychological Perspective. Cambridge
University Press.
Karen DeBord, L. L. H., Robin C. Moore, Nilda G. Cosco & Janet R. McGinnis (2005).
POEMS Preschool Outdoor Environment Measurement Scale. Lewisville, North
Carolina: Kaplan Early Learning Company.
Kytta, M. (2002). Affordances of Children's Environments in the Context of Cities, Small
Towns, Suburbs and Rural Villages in Finland and Belarus. Journal of
Environmental Psychology, 22, 109-123.
Louv, R. (2006). Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit
Disorder. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
Mann, D. (1996). Serious Play. Teachers College Record, 97(3), 446-469.
Marchant, C. R. B. a. C. (Ed.). (2002). Play in Practice: Case Studies in Young Children's
Play. St Paul: Redleaf Press.
77


Mayer Hillman, J. A., John Witlegg (1990). One false move: A Study of Children's
Independent Mobility. London: The Policy Institute.
Mintz, S. (2004). Huck's Raft A History of American Childhood. Cambridge,
Massachusetts, and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University
Press.
Moore, N. A. S. a. R. C. (1989). Early Childhood Outdoors: A Literature Review Related to
the Design of Childcare Environments, [research paper]. Children's Environments
Quarterly, 6(No. 4), 25-31.
Nabhan, G. P., & Trimble, S. (1994). The geography of childhood : why children need wild
places Concord library, (pp. xxv, 184 p ). Boston: Beacon Press.
Piaget, J. (1972). To Understand is to Invent. New York: The Viking Press, Inc.
Rivkin, M. (1997). The Schoolyard Habitat Movement: What it is and why children need it.
Early Childhood Education Journal, 25.
Robin Moore, N. C. a. L. R. (2005). Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) of Kids Together
Park. [Research Project Summary Report],
Samborski, S. A. R. (2000). Barren orBiodiverse School Grounds, Their Effects on
Children. University of Victoria, Victoria.
Studtmann, S. H. a. K. (1998). Landscape interventions: new directions for the design of
children's outdoor play environments. Landscape and Urban Planning, 42(1998),
191-205.
Thomas L. McKenzie, P. (2006). SOPLAY Descriptions and Procedures Manual, System
for Observing Play and Leisure Activity in Youth. San Diego, California: San Diego
State University.
Wallace E, D., Jr. (Ed.). (2003). Twenty Studies that Revolutionized Child Psychology (1st
ed). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education Inc.
Wasik, C. S. B. A. (2006). Early Education: Three, Four, and Five Year Olds Go to School
(2006 ed ): Merrill.
Wilson, R. (1997). A Sense of Place. Early Childhood Education Journal, 24(3), 191-194.
78


ENDNOTES
' According to Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development, a conflict is a turning
point during which the individual's struggles to attain some psychological quality.
Sometimes referred to as a psychosocial crisis, this can be a time of both vulnerability and
strength, as the individual works toward success or failure.
" Erikson's Play Age includes fluid motor movement and coping skills.
Noted by Dr. Elkind, page x of his introduction to The Power of Play, specifically referring
to public institutions that are created to provide this service to children. This thesis
considers the public playground a form of institution that is created to serve childrens
developmental needs.
IV Information from the 2006-2008 US Census Bureau, American Community Survey 3
Year Estimates accessed 12/14/09,
http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main. html?_lang=en
v See appendix A for reliability information on the SOPLAY technique.
v' See appendix A for validity and reliability testing of the POEMS measurement.
v" A standard program which is part of ArcGIS also included the use of ArcCatalog for the
creation of the database categories. Much thanks to Tim Varonne of the City of Fort Collins
GIS department for his assistance in teaching me how to manipulate this program for this
project.
Vl" would not run observation unless a minimum of 5 children on the playground at once
79