an area of land where children can play, especially at a school or in a park
Origin and usage
The first recorded usage of the combination of the words ‘play’ and ‘ground’ as the compound playground occurred in the late 1700s. Old English had the term ‘plegstow’ which translates as ‘the sports ground of a village’ or ‘a place to play’.
Most playgrounds are designed specifically as areas for children to play in, but there are some playgrounds for other age groups. In the modern age, playgrounds are carefully designed by experts to allow children to explore and move about safely. They may include equipment such as swings, slides, heavy equipment like a climbing frame or bar set, seesaws, mazes and playhouses. All of this equipment is generally designed to encourage physical traits such as strength, coordination and flexibility, but also to provide enjoyment and help to facilitate child development through socializing. Sporting facilities and playgrounds are often planned near to each other.
Although the term playground has long been used to refer to areas where children play, this was often simply the roads in their communities rather than a planned parcel of land as it is now. 19th-century psychologists like Friedrich Frobel, who studied childhood development, first suggested that a specifically designed playground could encourage children to have good manners and understand the importance of fair play and cooperation.
“You could hear the wind in the leaves, and on that wind traveled the screams of the kids on the playground in the distance, little kids figuring out how to be alive, how to navigate a world that wasn’t made for them by navigating a playground that was.”
recreation ground, playpark, play area