School Playground Ideas for Different Age Groups

In recent years outdoor learning has been increasingly promoted by OFSTED as highly beneficial for young people’s personal and educational growth! School playgrounds should therefore, provide a wide range of activities and equipment to catch kids’ interest and enhance their experience.

As kids grow, however, needs and interests change drastically, as any educator or parent could tell you!

From toddlers first developing their curiosity through sensory activities, to ages 10-11 rocketing down the football pitch like Beth Mead and Rahim Sterling, children love to play. Staying active and sparking imagination is key for any school playground.

Ages 2-4- Endlessly curious and constantly learning

Children aged 2-4 experiencing the world for the first time benefit greatly from supportive, varied environments for play.

Whether splashing around in the water table, or spinning and twisting the elements of play panels, children’s sensory development is most important from the ages 2-4.

Photograph of a young child’s hands under the running water of a wooden water play table from our sensory playground equipment range

What to include in Playgroup Playgrounds:

  • Bright colours
  • Sensory panels
  • Creative patterns
  • Simple storytelling
  • Play sand and plenty of other interesting textures
  • Safe environment to explore with safety surfacing

Tactile play can stimulate and develop young children’s senses in in a variety of ways. Touch and movement builds strong gross motor skills. Sharing and interacting with others on the playground helps even very young children’s communication skills. Being surrounded by bright colours and interesting sounds improve general mood and promote language development.

Top Tip:

Open-ended play is vital to the imagination and independence, so don’t worry about setting too many rules. Play is a world run by children. we are there as adults to ensure safe and age-appropriate play, but independence is important.

Ages 5-7

As children enter Key Stage 1, their interest in learning should begin to be harnessed in their play.

Using creative playground design, the normal school curriculum can be enhanced through fun and learning. An outdoor classroom is a great place to engage students in learning across the curriculum to include a range of different school subjects in fun.


Colour and fun is an amazing way to promote early maths skills in primary a school students. Our playground markings are designed to encourage early learning in many, many fun ways!

Whether hopping along our colourful outline of a snake with number segments or playing snakes and ladders, children love The School Playground Compan’s playground markings! Or for those with Ophidiophobia, our range of clock playground marking make time fly by when learning numbers!

Learning numbers is fun when consideration is made for how kids learn, which is often by doing, rather than sitting inside reciting with a teacher. This is particularly beneficial for children with dyscalculia.

Reading and Writing

Communication skills develop naturally through imaginative play or storytelling

In addition to our range of letter learning playground markings, The School Playground Company’s outdoor cllassrooms and reading areas offer great settings for enhancing imagination. Our project to create a storytelling area suitable for Key Stage 1 students at a school Royal Leamington Spa demonstrates how our effective playground design can create a brilliant opportunity for outdoor learning.

Photograph of The Playground Company’s playground project for an outdoor storytelling area for Key Stage 1 students at a school in Royal Leamington Spa. This includes a high backed wooden chair at one end and seating for students including three red, rubber topped seating mushrooms and four timber backless benches on green artificial play grass

Art and Music

The importance of art and music to children’s development has never been more easily met than in modern playground design. Most school playgrounds nowadays allow creativity and exploration of imagination to take the forefront.

Musical Play is an amazing opportunity to expand children’s appreciation for the world, among many other benefits. Integrating music and art into other learning can even engage children with auditory learning styles. For example, the alphabet song uses pattern recognition to help kids learn!

Promoting art in primary schools is a way to further use sensory play styles in new ways as children grow. How about turning our playground safety surfacing into a huge chalkboard for your kids to express themselves, or tell stories with playground markings.

Ages 8-11

As children become older they require more dynamic play, which our active play areas are more than suitable for. Climbing frames, trim trails and clamber stacks are amazing opportunities to stay fit and active on the playground. Additionally, with our safety surfacing grass mats you can be assured of a soft landing.

Children are always making up games and challenges for themselves. Playgrounds should allow them to roam free and use equipment however they want. Examples of unique activities include: timing themselves on the trim trails, or using playground markings for fun or creating educational challenges with more complex ideas.

Sports and exercise are also incredibly important for older children on the playground. Providing tactile and fun playground exercise equipment, outdoor gym equipment, and Multi Use Games Areas (MUGAs) are therefore a great opportunity to help kids learn about healthy activity and best use your PE time.

Photograph of school-children using and enjoying The School Playground Company’s product- Outdo-child-DBLHE- Double Health Walker. Standing on the black foot holds and holding onto the green safety bar, children take part in a light cardiovascular workout side by side with their peers.

The Daily Mile

The Daily Mile is an amazing opportunity to keep kids active. This international campaign to keep kids fit. Running or jogging for 15 minutes a day is a simple and safe way to improve children’s health. This can also improve concentration when returning to the classroom, so why not sign up to this amazing opportunity and use our safe and colourful playground surfacing and playground marking designs to help along the way?

Photograph of school playground markings in green wetpour surfacing and white playground markings perfect for the Daily Mile starting and finishing area. The markings include a white checked starting line, with a marking reading ‘warm up walk’ ahead of it circled in green with green footprint markings, and a white arrow perpendicular to the starting line indicating where one lap would end, there is also a large forest green rectangle with white rounded text reading ‘MILE A DAY 1/3 mile = 4 laps 2/3 mile = 8 laps 1 mile = 12 laps’.

Positive Playground spaces are important for all kids!

A diverse selection of activities and attractions is vital to any playground design. It is important when selecting your choices for equipment and playground markings that there is a consideration for the different needs of different age groups and The School Playground Company endeavours to meet these needs and provide a creative and fun outlet for children of all ages!

If you think our products are right for your playgrounds continue to browse our website or contact us today for more information on how we can help.