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What is Unprescribed Play?

Click here to download the Creo “How to Build a Playground in 2022” Guide

Unprescribed play is a concept that rejects the predetermined ways to play and move within a playground.  

It’s a refreshing change from the predictable and modular types of playgrounds that we often see in parks and recreational spaces. These more traditional types of playgrounds don’t offer much room for exploration or imagination and can quickly become boring for children. Whereas a playground that includes something unexpected or unpredictable can spark curiosity and creativity in children. 

Unprescribed play spaces encourage children to explore and discover through open-ended play, which is essential for their development. When children are given the freedom to interpret and engage with their surroundings, they are able to use their imagination and creativity to create their own games and activities. This is what makes play truly fun and engaging for children. 

When it comes to playing, kids are really the experts. As designers, it is our responsibility to create spaces that allow for unprescribed play. This means designing playgrounds that are not overly structured or restrictive. Instead, here at Creo we aim to create playgrounds that offer children multiple options for play, and that can be interpreted in different ways.  

For example, a playground that includes a sandbox, a tunnel, and a water feature can be used in different ways by different children. A child might use the sandbox to create a castle, while another child might use it to create a racetrack. They can crawl through the tunnel or climb over the top and slide down, or it can be used to create an obstacle course. The water feature can be used to splash and play in, or it can be used to create a boat race. The possibilities are endless when children are given the freedom to play in their own way. 

Our three young experts from Tirimoana School explain it all simply when talking about their new unprescribed play space:


“I love this playground because this playground is just creative…It’s more imaginative. You can play whatever you want.” 


Unprescribed play is essential for children’s development. It allows them to explore, discover, and use their imagination in an open-ended way. Our responsibility is to create spaces that provide children with multiple options for play to keep them engaged and curious about the world around them. When we give children the freedom to play in their own way, we are giving them the opportunity to have fun and to learn in a way that is unique to them. 


If you’d like to talk to someone about a future project or would like a concept designed for your space, give us a call on 0800 000 334, or book a 15-minute ideas session with one of our consultants. 



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