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The special thing about our play equipment is that it is developed in close collaboration with children. And this does not just mean tested with children or photographed with children, or simply empty words in our catalogue. No, we really mean that it is developed with children. In fact, so much so that they are involved from the first ideas to the final prototypes. Children are the real play experts – so what could be more natural than asking them what they think makes the most fun playground or play equipment?
Through workshops, storytelling and co-creation, we get an insight into which activities children find most interesting and entertaining, as well as the trends we should accommodate to ensure that our playgrounds stay fun year after year.
It is Monday morning, and the children in the ‘Blue Whales’ group at the Drejens kindergarten have just arrived. This is going to be a slightly different day, because LEDON’s development team are visiting the institution.
With everyone sitting in a circle on the floor, the development team kicks off the story: “We’ve travelled to a completely new place that we’ve never visited before … But where are we? And how did we get here?”
All the children offer stories, explanations and ideas.
“But we also need a Jeep!” shouts one of the boys. “What are we going to put in it?” asks Søren from the development team. “A telescope, a rope to capture animals and a jerrycan …” The children come up with lots of suggestions for the story.
This is how the development process starts with the children. Storytelling and co-creation centred around fantasy, new adventures and the next discovery. And in this way, the children help to determine the framework for our next theme world.
The story from Drejens details how our Off-roader from the Explore series came into being. It took over a year from our first visit until the final prototype was completed. And of course, the kindergarten was given one of the Explore off-roaders which they had helped to design.
For a playground to last for many years, it has to be a source of fun for many years. This is why theme worlds are essential to our product development. In a theme world, the children’s imaginative play is both inspired and supported by the thematic elements. At the same time, the themes are based on well-known stories about adventures and explorers in the jungle and at sea. These timeless and popular stories span generations, and many people remember vividly how they themselves or their children used to play being aboard a ship, in a knight’s castle etc.
“The unique thing about theme playgrounds is that children never tire of them; there is always a new game going on, and who knows – perhaps tomorrow the pirate ship will turn into a tanker, a raft or something else entirely.”Simone Donbæk, Sales and Marketing Manager and third generation of the family at LEDON
“The unique thing about theme playgrounds is that children never tire of them; there is always a new game going on, and who knows – perhaps tomorrow the pirate ship will turn into a tanker, a raft or something else entirely.”
The different theme worlds each have their respective focuses, being particularly conducive for, for example, role-play, motor development or social skills.
Read more: Theme playgrounds
It is an ambitious goal: Our play equipment must support children’s development in the best possible way. It takes know-how, experience and, not least, innovative solutions to constantly create developmental play activities.
We go about this by basing our work, among other things, on the ‘value flower’. This is a scientifically based approach, which defines five main areas in which children develop through play. We factor in these five areas both in the development of the individual pieces of equipment and when designing the playground and surrounding areas. Play equipment usually covers one or two of the areas of development in the value flower, while the whole playground should ideally cater for all of them:
Creative developmentEncourages children to be experimental and creative through their play and imagination. Creative development is important for seeing things in context as well as seeing them in new ways.
Emotional developmentChildren learn to understand and manage their emotions, and thereby develop a sense of empathy which is essential for being able to interact socially and understand other people.
Social developmentThrough play, children learn to interact with and respect each other and abide by the social rules, including making compromises, negotiating and resolving conflicts. Most importantly, children gain experience and practise being with others. In this way, it supports their basic communication and social skills.
Physical developmentChildren are stimulated into actively using their entire body through play and movement. In particular, balance and gross and fine motor skills are challenged. All are vitally important for a child’s development.
Cognitive developmentThe children’s cognitive development is stimulated through play where thinking, language, problem-solving and so much more are tried and learned. Through play, children form a coherent picture of the world and what it means to be part of it as engaged citizens.
In addition to the value flower, we use knowledge about the way children’s bodies and brains develop. For example, the brain’s language centre and the area governing right-hand fine motor skills are right next to each other. This means that activities positively influence children’s language centre when they support right-hand fine motor skills.
Unfortunately, “We develop with children” has become a somewhat watered-down slogan for our industry.
Therefore, we go to great lengths to document this process, and to share our knowledge about the insights and values we derive from co-developing and co-creating with children. In this way, we help to ensure that new knowledge and innovative ideas result in even more good solutions and play equipment.
Through knowledge-sharing and close collaboration, we act as a partner on the new Design for Play MA programme offered by Design School Kolding. This is the only MA programme in the world that looks at, for example, why play is so important for human existence.
Another knowledge-sharing partnership is our collaboration with the Danish Design Centre. This involves presentations and workshops on how we employ user-driven design to create better solutions, and how other companies and industries can work with user-driven design.
For us, our partnerships make an important contribution to children’s development and play.
All our play equipment is made of low-maintenance and recyclable materials. This is good for you and good for the environment.
Playgrounds are for children. Therefore, we design all our equipment together with children. This guarantees that all our playgrounds are fun and challenging.
For 50 years, our Danish production has contributed high quality and superior craftsmanship. At the same time, we preserve Danish workplaces and ensure a healthy working environment.
All our play equipment is approved in accordance with EN 1176 and certified by TÜV. This is your guarantee that the equipment complies with strict safety requirements.