Imagination Playground

imagination playground

What will you build? Check out Imagination Playground located in Festival Plaza.

Imagination Playground is a breakthrough playspace concept conceived and designed by architect David Rockwell to encourage child-directed, unstructured free play, the kind of play that is critical to nurturing children’s creativity. With a focus on loose parts, Imagination Playground offers a changing array of elements that allows children to constantly reconfigure their environment and to design their own course of play. Giant foam blocks, fabric, slides, noodles and balls overflow with creative potential for children to play, dream, build and explore endless possibilities.

Read the San Francisco Chronicle's interview with architect David Rockwell to learn more.

Ignite Creative Thinking with Open-ended Questions

Asking open-ended questions is a powerful way to to spark conversations and enrich children’s learning in our exhibit spaces. 

When you use open ended questions like these to promote deeper engagement by children, you also find out about child’s interests. How might your conversations with children at the Museum lay the foundation for a deeper project after your visit?

  • How can we build it so this structure doesn't fall? 
  • What kinds of noises can these blocks make? 
  • Tell me about what you are working on? Sitting on?
  • You’re using a lot of noodles. Can you tell me about what you are creating? 
  • What does this block remind you of?
Created with flickr badge.

What is Imagination Playground?

Read More about Imagination Playground

  • The New Yorker, July 5, 2010. Rebecca Mead, “State of Play: How Tot Lots Became Places to Build Children’s Brains” (PDF)
  • CNN, September 2, 2010. Jessica Yellin, “Build-It-Yourself Playground Helps Kids Imagine”
  • Landscape Architecture, November, 2010. Daniel Jost, “New York Loosens Up” (PDF)
  • Time, August 9, 2010. Harriet Barovick, “Building a Better Playground”

For additional articles, please visit

How does Imagination Playground nurture creativity?

Imagination Playground consists of three core concepts that foster a dynamic, child-centered environment:

  1. Loose Parts: An assortment of movable objects, including Imagination PlaygroundBlocks™, crates, fabric and carts, allows each play session to become a new experience. With Imagination Playground Loose Parts, children can create their own narratives, activities and environments; build something and tear it down; or simply enjoy forms and textures.
  2. Manipulable Environment: Children play most creatively in settings they can  manipulate. Sand and water, for example, serve as raw materials for creativity and sensory exploration. Imagination Playground empowers children to influence the space around them, and allows for many types of activities, including constructive, dramatic and gross motor play.
  3. Play Associates: Play Associates are trained adults who enable a setting in which  children can direct their own play. They allow play activity to evolve naturally by maintaining a safe and secure environment, and by renewing and varying the supply of loose parts. At the Bay Area Discovery Museum, our Discovery Educators are trained as Play Associates.

What are the imagination playground blocks made of?

Imagination Playground Blocks are made of a cross-linked Polyethylene foam manufactured in the United States. The closed-cell foam is soft, lightweight, waterproof, and biodegradable. It is resistant to sun, heat, mold, mildew, corrosion and micro-organisms. These highly-durable blocks can be transported to a landfill or returned to the manufacturer to be recycled when they are no longer wanted on the playground.

Who created Imagination Playground?

David Rockwell and his firm, Rockwell Group, have partnered with KaBOOM!, the leading national non-profit dedicated to saving play for America’s children. The mission of this partnership is to inspire children’s inherent ability to dream and create by bringing Imagination Playground to communities across the country.

What role does KaBOOM! and Rockwell Group have in Imagination Playground?

Rockwell Group serves as the creative force behind the concept, while KaBOOM! brings its 14 years of community outreach experience to determine the easiest and most cost-efficient way to implement Imagination Playground in a variety of community settings nationwide. The Bay Area Discovery Museum is presenting the Imagination Playground in a Box concept. For more information, visit

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