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A History of Outdoor Playspaces: From the Natural Environment to Recycled Plastic

by Dorothy W. Hewes
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Playgrounds designated for young children were not developed until the early 1900s, even though their need for playspace has been known since ancient times. Philosophers have pondered over this topic, as when Plato recognized that all young creatures, including humans, like to leap. Ethologists like Jane Goodall have made us familiar with the capers of young pimates. "Animals at Play" in the December 1994 National Geographic described activities such as a raven's repeatedly sliding down a snowbank on its back. Archeologists found children's footprints zig-zagging and circling while adults were plodding sedately along a river bank thousands of years ago. Anthropologists have observed children's activities in cultures untouched by our civilization, noting that they used small rocks for marbles and improvised toys from materials at hand. As one example some young children in Africa were supposed to be herding the tribal cattle but instead began catching locusts that they pretended were cows. They got so involved with building twig pens for them that the real cows wandered away. Few behavioral scientists published serious investigation until the 1960s, as indicated by dates of 71 studies compiled by Bruner and others in Play - Its Role in Development and Evolution (1976). Karl Groos, ...

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