Looking for a fun time outdoors with your kids?

Here are five of the more interesting public playgrounds across the island, that have more than just simple swings and slides:

 

(Photos: The Straits Times)

West Coast Park

West Coast Park has been the stalwart playground of the west since opening in 1999. However, it can still hold its own against newer playgrounds, thanks to its arsenal of adventurous play equipment that even teenagers find fun.

The 600 sq m playground houses a host of obstacle courses, such as a flying fox, balancing beams and a giant rope pyramid which, at 9.3m tall, is one of the largest in Singapore. There is an entire section for toddlers, including a mini fire engine and a Viking ship.

A few companies have worked on the playground over the years, adding new sections via renovation works.

Children aged two to five have lower centres of gravity and are shorter, so equipment with lower heights are more suitable for them. Handrails which are within their reach are installed on these play elements and steps are less steep. As toddlers prefer imaginative play, equipment with designs that resemble real-life vehicles, such as the fire engine, also appeal to them. Those aged five to 12 prefer more physically challenging and problem- solving tasks, hence the giant rope pyramid and balancing beams.

 

(Photo: Swan-Li)

Tiong Bahru Park

Visitors to this playground get to go on a train ride with a difference. The locomotive here features five cabins tilting at different angles, along with rope elements, climbing equipment and slides within the train.

First opened in 1967, Tiong Bahru Park was redeveloped in 2000 with the theme of "Old Frame, New Images". The train was then built in line with a concept by a landscape consultant engaged by the National Parks Board (NParks).

The final train design was also checked for playground safety compliance before being built.

 

(Photos: Playpoint)

Yishun River Green

Yishun residents have an art installation of a playground to let their children run around in.

The Yishun River Green playground, located at Block 330 Yishun Ring Road, features the Mini Pool, an art installation involving 16 pads on the ground that light up and change colour when they are stepped on.

The work is by Jen Lewin, a light sculptor based in the United States whose work was displayed at the 2014 edition of i Light Marina Bay, a light art festival that emphasises sustainability and energy-saving measures. Her art caught the eye of Playpoint, the playground specialist which developed the play area commissioned by the Nee Soon Town Council.

Complementing the 480 sq m playground's whimsical theme are three crooked houses that seem to have been plucked straight out of a children's book by, say, Dr Seuss. They were designed by Monstrum, a Danish playground design company. There is also a kinetics hammock trellis – a swingset with nine seats installed at different heights.

The playground, which opened in December last year, was developed with an estimated budget of $413,000, according to Playpoint.

 

(Photo: Playpoint)

Sembawang Park

Nestled within the coastal Sembawang Park is a life-sized shipwreck of wooden planks and galvanised steel, separated into five fractured pieces.

The massive "wreck" is the centrepiece of the 900 sq m Sembawang Park playground, commissioned to be maritime-themed. The "wreck" was built in memory of two British battleships that sank north of Singapore after being attacked by the Japanese during World War II. Complete with gun turrets, propellers, smoke stacks and even a rudder, the ship was crafted with an emphasis on detail. It opened in July 2013.

In line with the naval theme, the playground in Sembawang Park uses sand as a base instead of a "unitary surface", which is the rubber flooring seen at some other playgrounds.

Sand has long been a staple feature of playgrounds – and for good reason. According to child development experts, playing with sand brings many benefits to children, such as enhancing sensory experiences and creativity.

However, according to consultants, it is also sometimes considered more difficult to maintain as it may harden or get displaced.

 

(Photo: The Straits Times)

Pasir Ris Park

Families are drawn to the Pasir Ris Park playground near Elias Road for its coastal view, sea breeze and welcoming 750 sq m of space.

Thanks to its expanse – afforded to only a handful of playgrounds in Singapore – the playground has a collection of well-spaced-out play equipment. The highlights of the playground include a 10m-long slide stemming from a rope pyramid perched atop a hill, several rock-climbing walls and a rope bridge.

The playground has been built and upgraded by different companies over the years.

Despite being built to withstand heavy usage, the playground requires regular inspection and maintenance for safety. But there is one problem frequent checks cannot prevent: vandalism. Unfortunately, playground specialists say there is little playground caretakers can do, except remove markings and spraypaint with thinner or paint over the vandalised sections.

 

Adapted from The Straits Times.