Home » ExchangeEveryDay » The 7 C’s of Children’s Play Spaces

ExchangeEveryDay Past Issues

<< Previous Issue | View Past Issues | | Next Issue >> ExchangeEveryDay
The 7 C’s of Children’s Play Spaces
March 10, 2023
A child who climbs may fall. But a child who never climbs is at much greater risk.
-Betty Jones, Educator and Mentor, 1930-2022

Thinking about your play space? Think character, context, connectivity, change, chance, clarity, and challenge. Available from The Outdoor Playbook, The 7 C’s: an informational guide to young children’s outdoor play spaces explains, “Each C builds upon another to define the key elements that should be considered by the design team.

  • Character – the overall feel of the space. Do the physical characteristics of your space match your overall mission?
  • Context – how does the play space relates to the surrounding area? What micro climates exist – changes in sun or moisture, for example – and how can you use them to your advantage?
  • Connectivity – “unifying the play yard unifies the play experience and increases significantly the time spent engaged with the physical structure of the place,” according to Leland Shaw.
  • Change – the variety of spaces available to children, and how the spaces changes over time. Does your space include private spaces for children to be alone? Does the space change with the seasons?
  • Chance – “Chance has sometimes been referred to as open-endedness or flexibility.” Does your space offer “an opportunity for the child to create, manipulate, and leave an impression on the play space?”
  • Clarity – a combination of “physical legibility and perceptual imageability.” A large structure can dominate and disconnect the space from a child’s point of view.
  • Challenge – the physical and cognitive encounters available. “Our study and others found that a lack of challenging things to do in a play space has been the primary reason for increases in bullying.”

Learn more about the 7 C's and the research behind them.


Delivered five days a week containing news, success stories, solutions, trend reports, and much more.

What is ExchangeEveryDay?

ExchangeEveryDay is the official electronic newsletter for Exchange Press. It is delivered five days a week containing news stories, success stories, solutions, trend reports, and much more.

Post a Comment

Have an account? to submit your comment.


Your e-mail address will not be visible to other website visitors.

Check the box below, to help verify that you are not a bot. Doing so helps prevent automated programs from abusing this form.

Disclaimer: Exchange reserves the right to remove any comments at its discretion or reprint posted comments in other Exchange materials.