When we walked through the greenery, over bridges between lakes, through the Fulda River park that is almost like a wilderness, the last thing I expected to come across was the most wonderful playground I've ever seen. On the edge of Kassel, Germany, is the Fulda River, flowing south to north. And Germany seems to want their children to experience surfaces under their feet that move, shift, bounce, and roll, in ways that would make most American moms cringe. Honestly. It seems like almost everything in the playground was built so that your child could fall and hurt him/herself. But you don't hear screams from each corner. And the parents linger around the edges, letting the kids work things out on their own or with each other.
My first reaction was that I would never be able to capture it all in photographs, so forget blogging about it. But after about 15 minutes I decided that it was worth it to just take a photo of every cool challenge in the place.
First was the water play area, a partly man-made, but natural-looking stream with rocks as stairs into the stream, rope bridge over it all. There was also a series of pools and a crank-able silver water... thing. One kid had to rely on another kid, but done right they could make the water travel up the spinning silver thing to the next pool. What? I don't know, actually. But teach 'em early, right?
Nearby was a boat. With springs on the bottom of it. Did I mention that most of the playground structures were big enough, sturdy enough, for parents to play with their children?
A favorite for us to watch was the tightrope. Here, you can only play if you can climb up a rope or a pole. These provide a bit of a test, to ensure that kids that are too small don't get into trouble. If you can't get up the rope or pole, you can't attempt to tightrope walk five feet above the ground. There's also a zip line component, which the kids hold onto while cruising across. Or they just cruise across holding onto the silver rings - forget tightrope walking...
Another neat one was this rope tethered tire-swing situation. If you are on one tire, you effect the movements of the other, because you are both hanging from the same rope. Joshua and I tried this one ourselves.
And then there's the slide. Accessible also by a hillside, the way to get to the top of the slide for the bigger kids is a climbing wall. The slide itself was no joke, either.
This christmas tree spins. But there's a little platform at the top, so you can just sit up there and get sick if you're interested.
And I don't even know how to begin describing this one. All I know is that the kid is pulling ropes to get them swinging...
We actually saw quite a few of these in Germany. The kid on the right is about to get thrown into the air, as the kid on the left is landing on his side of the giant plastic tape. It is pulled taught on the left side right now, because that kid is in the air. Kind of a flexi-see-saw.
Speaking of see-saws...
Just for extra fun.
This might be hard to describe. The kids are on a thing, a half-sphere, that spins quite easily. The kid on the left is actually running at the speed that the half-sphere is spinning, so he is running in place. The other kid is close enough to the middle to avoid getting run over, I think.
And one of my favorites, the:
If two people of even similar weight get on, you can swing back and forth, and also spin round and round. Up to four fun people/kids can get on and get bumped against the pole in the middle or get dizzy spinning around it - but I was on it alone.