Maybe it’s just me, but I was a grown-up before I realized there was a difference between a park and playground.  I suppose it depends on where you grew up, but I mostly used the words interchangeably, sort of like dinner and supper.

Parks, with a general definition of “large public green space”, tend to be offer amenities like benches, picnic tables, tennis, or basketball courts, and in some larger cities, even stuff like zoos and aquariums.

Parks are designed for leisure. They are a great space to take a break from work or eat a picnic lunch on the weekend.  Parks offer the space to play soccer or tag.  Parks tend to be larger than a playground and are suited to adults as much as they are for children. There’s something for everyone at the neighbourhood park. 

Playgrounds, generally known as a play space for children, are typically found at schools, community centres, or within subdivisions.   They are generally smaller than a park because they are often found within a park!  Playgrounds – the slides, the swings, the ladders – those are often incorporated into larger play areas, and green spaces. 

There you have it! Not only do they have different names, but they also have different functions, and experiences.  It is not a huge deal breaker if you ever confuse the two, but you may get a strange look from your neighbour if you say you’re going to go for a jog at the playground. 

What makes a great playground?

Surfacing Materials

We’ve discussed this before, but we cannot say it enough – playground surfacing not only directly impacts their safety, but it’s also a choice that can make the difference in your playground’s accessibility. Maintaining the surface materials of your playground reduces tripping, improves drainage issues, and provides a level of inclusion for children of all abilities and ages. Parents and caregivers with mobility issues also benefit. 

Playground Games and Equipment

There’s no point in having a playground without having fun games and equipment for them to play on.  Physical and creative play is a critical aspect in a child’s development. While most playgrounds have the standard slide, swings and monkey bars, games like rope courses, and accessible swings are becoming more popular for more of a free-play feel that the whole family can participate in. 

An inclusive playground includes games and equipment for all ages and abilities.  Parents and caregivers like to play too! 

Seating and Rest Areas

Benches, even ledges, can offer a space for caregivers to watch the children play. This can reduce the urges that parents may have to hover around the playground to keep an eye out for their children. Seating areas also provide a great space for children to take a break or to have a snack in between play.  Sheltered areas, from the sun/wind/rain, can be of benefit as well. 


Clean, well maintain and safe surroundings play an important part in the overall satisfaction of a trip to the playgrounds.  A playground across the way from a busy intersection may not be the best placement.  Fenced areas, or vegetation borders can help guide children to understand the safety aspects of the area. What is off limits is beyond the fence, or what is inside this treed are is good to go. 

Nature Play

A boost of nature at the nature is a boost for a child’s imagination and creativity. For urban areas, green spaces can be hard to find.   Trees and rocks can’t be climbed if you can’t find them in the first place!   Our Nature Play series offers all sorts of fun ways to bring nature to the city. 

You can also bring the warmth of wood and a connection to nature by building playgrounds with wood series play games like those from the Nature’s Aura series.  Wood offers its own built in tactile and sensory properties. 

Contact us today to discuss the benefits of adding a nature-based playground to your city park.

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Dynamo Playgrounds

661 County Rd 9
Plantagenet, ON
K0B 1L0 Canada

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