Frequently Asked Questions

How is imagination playground different than other playgrounds?

Traditional playgrounds consist primarily of fixed equipment, such as slides, monkey bars and teeter-totters, all of which focus on developing children’s gross motor skills. Imagination Playground, on the other hand, is an interactive, transformable environment that prompts children to manipulate their environment and create a playspace of their own with sand, water and loose parts. Imagination Playground addresses a broader spectrum of play needs through opportunities for fantasy play and socio-cooperative play, in addition to more traditional running, jumping and climbing. Kids need to be active on many levels, and they need to exercise their minds as well as their muscles. Research shows that children at the age of eight who have experienced varied and challenging play are considerably better prepared to benefit from ongoing formal education. Imagination Playground can be used by itself, or in conjunction with traditional playground equipment.

Where can i go to experience imagination playground?

The flagship Imagination Playground Park opened to the public in July 2010 at Burling Slip in the South Street Seaport area of New York City, a collaboration between Rockwell Group and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. There are also Imagination Playground sets popping up across the globe, from New York to Chicago to Hawaii.

How much does an imagination playground cost?

The price of Imagination Playground ranges depending on what version you purchase.

What are the imagination playground blocks made of?

Imagination Playground Blocks are made of a cross-linked polyethylene foam. The closed-cell foam is soft, lightweight, waterproof, and recyclable. It is resistant to sun, heat, mold, mildew, corrosion and microorganisms. These highly durable blocks can be transported to a landfill or returned to the manufacturer to be recycled when they are no longer wanted on the playground.

Are the imagination playground blocks safe?

Imagination Playground Blocks are non-toxic and resistant to germs, mold and mildew. They are sturdy enough to withstand the elements and soft enough to for children to play with safely. The particular type of molecular linking used to bond the foam ensures that when exposed to an open fire the blue blocks will smolder, but not catch fire. All products meet ASTM and CPSC standards.

How can the imagination playground blocks be cleaned?

The blue blocks can be cleaned easily with a scrub brush, soap and water.

Are the imagination playground blocks environmentally friendly?

Yes, incorporating breakthrough technologies, these highly durable parts can be recycled if desired; please contact Imagination Playground for more details.

Can I get the imagination playground blocks in different colors?

Imagination Playground Blocks only come in one color in order to facilitate more imaginative play, without any distraction or competition that might arise from having multi-colored toys.

What is a play associate?

Play Associates are an integral part of the Imagination Playground concept and are responsible for the management and maintenance of the play space, as well as the facilitation of children’s play. Play Associates do not direct play or teach children how to use the objects or environment. They might sometimes quietly demonstrate a different use of materials but there is no educational agenda or schedule of recreation programs. What children do will be the result of their inherent curiosity and urge to play. Play Associates will enable children to play in ways that would not be possible without a trained staff to monitor the resources.

How do you become a play associate?

For all Imagination Playground sets, Play Associate training is part of the purchase price. The training provides an overview of the Imagination Playground concept, the development of loose parts play, current research in child development, as well as some tips and tools to help Play Associates facilitate creative play on a daily basis. The training is offered online in a convenient on-demand format. Contact us to learn more.

At Imagination Playground at Burling Slip in New York City, Play Associates are employees of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The Parks Department has a summer program that deploys Play Associates to sites all around New York City, and they will use Imagination Playground at Burling Slip for training all year round.

Must all sites that obtain imagination playground in a box have play associates?

Imagination Playground products have been created as sets of parts intended to be used with a Play Associate. Imagination Playground has developed a curriculum that will train these workers to properly implement Imagination Playground products. We require all Play Associates to receive this training prior to taking charge of the Imagination Playground site.

We recommend that while adult-child ratios should be determined by policy at the site, at least one adult per twenty children, ages 5-12. A lower adult-child ratio should be maintained when children are younger than five.

Who did you consult with on this project?

We consulted with many seminal figures in the field of play and education during our research and development phase, especially Roger Hart [director of the Children’s Environments Research Group and professor of environmental psychology at the Graduate Center of the City of New York], Susan Solomon [author of American Playgrounds: Revitalizing Community Space], Penny Wilson [a renowned U.K. Play Worker], and Elise Clark at the City and Country School in New York City [we learned a lot from their founder Caroline Pratt’s scholarship on block play]. We also spent years speaking with parents, teachers, kids, doing focus groups, prototyping, and researching all sorts of different ways to play.

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