Jay Beckwith

Confessions of a Playground Guru

Jay Beckwith's picture

Called by many as one of the “fathers of the modern playground,” Jay began designing unique play environments in 1970. As new materials came into use early in the 1980s, he designed one of the earliest “post and deck” play structures, which quickly became a trend that he later decried as resulting in more and more playgrounds looking alike. Jay has written several books on designing and building children’s play equipment. He has also been involved with safety commissions, became a Certified Playground Safety Inspector, and has written publications and developed programs for playground safety. He has consulted with several playground manufacturers in their design processes and pushed towards new directions in play environments, such as climbing boulders and ropes. Jay has been a Fellow of the Association for the Study of Play for over twenty years, and his insightful observations of children at play have influenced his views of the needed changes for the future.

Imagine an infant lying on their back on the floor. In your mind’s eye watch as she works to roll over onto her stomach. Over the course of a month or so she will eventually accomplish her goal. In so doing she will have made countless attempts.Now...
The claim that play leads to peace may seem to be an outrageous assertion but I am confident that by the end of this essay you will not only agree but also come to believe that it may be the best means of creating a more peaceful planet.First, let’s...
Bespoke Playground
Most people think that art is something that sits on a pedestal or hangs on a wall and, up until recent history, that was largely true. Art before the 18th century was generally devoted to commemorating significant people, battles or ideals. Personal...
Pokemon Go Nearly three years ago my friend Mike Lanza, of Playborhood fame, and I joined forces to find a way to use technology to encourage kids to play outdoors. After considerable research we determined that the best platform was to use the then emerging...
Goric Playgrounds
Ask anyone who’s tried it. Bringing natural elements to playgrounds is as they say … “muy dificil”. Let’s take a look at the obstacles systematically and then try to tease out design, programs and policies that will make...
Jay Jay Beckwith- Although I was an art major in college, I was also able to take a number of classes in psychology and early childhood education. This influenced my decision to go on to Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, one of the premier centers for...
Jay Jay Beckwith- Over the past five decades I have dedicated myself to creating play opportunities for children. Over the past dozen years I have become more involved in economics and particularly the housing crisis that resulted from the...
When someone says “adventure playground” I, and I suspect most people, have a vision somewhat like the one above and envision a playspace comprised mostly of junk and reclaimed lumber cobbled together into semi-permanent structures. The...
www.tedxvienna.at In a recent conversation with play designer Cas Holman, best know for her Rigamajig, she mentioned the Cyborg Manifesto, an essay written by Donna Haraway. Many writers have adopted Ms. Haraway’s notion of humans becoming cyborgs for various...
Community Childrens Drawin
Anthropologists who study intact indigenous peoples find that they generally do not have a word for play. Children in these communities just do what kids have always done, naturally and without much “parenting.” The French philosopher...
Girl playing in dirt “Let your child be a child. Dirt is good. If your child isn’t coming in dirty every day, they’re not doing their job. They’re not building their immunological army.”  Dr Mary Ruebush, immunologist and author of Why Dirt is Good: 5 Ways...