Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 6: Play Areas/Playgrounds and Transportation

6.1 Play Area/Playground Size and Location

6.1.0 Size and Requirements of Indoor Play Area

If a facility has less than seventy-five square feet of accessible outdoor space per child or provides active play space indoors for other reasons, a large indoor activity room that meets the requirement for seventy-five square feet per child may be used if it meets the following requirements:

  1. It provides for types of activities equivalent to those performed in an outdoor play space;
  2. The area is ventilated with fresh, temperate air at a minimum of five cubic feet per minute per occupant when open windows are not possible;
  3. The surfaces and finishes are shock-absorbing, as required for outdoor installations in Standard;
  4. The play equipment meets the requirements for outdoor installation as stated in Standards and Standards

There should be separated areas for play for the following ages of children:

  1. Ages six through twenty-three months
  2. Ages two to five years*
  3. Ages five to twelve years**

*These areas may be further sub-divided into ages two to three years and four to five years.

** These areas may be further sub-divided into grades K-1, 2-3, and 4-6.

This standard provides facilities located in inner-city areas or areas with extreme weather with an alternative that allows gross motor play when outdoor spaces are unavailable or unusable. Indoor gross motor play must provide an experience like outdoor play, with safe and healthful environmental conditions that match the benefits of outdoor play as closely as possible. These spaces may be interior if ventilation is adequate to prevent undue concentration of organisms, odors, carbon dioxide, humidity and other substances consistent with ASHRAE’s “Standard 62: Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality.” This follows the developmental ages used for the development of the Standards for play equipment for children (1,2).
For days in which weather does not permit outdoor play, the facility is encouraged to provide an alternate place for gross motor activities indoors for children of all ages. This space could be a dedicated gross motor room or a gym, a large hallway, or even a classroom in which furniture has been pushed aside. The room should provide adequate space for children to do vigorous activities including running.

Qualified heating and air conditioning contractors should have a meter to measure the rate of airflow. Before indoor areas are used for gross motor activity, a heating and air conditioning contractor should be called in to make airflow measurements.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start
RELATED STANDARDS Active Opportunities for Physical Activity Playing Outdoors Caregivers’/Teachers’ Encouragement of Physical Activity Design of Play Equipment Installation of Play Equipment Play Equipment Connecting and Linking Devices Size and Anchoring of Crawl Spaces Enclosure of Moving Parts on Play Equipment Material Defects and Edges on Play Equipment Entrapment Hazards of Play Equipment Use Zone for Fixed Play Equipment Arrangement of Play Equipment Prohibited Surfaces for Placing Climbing Equipment
  1. Olds, A. R. 2001. Child care design guide. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  2. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). 2008. Public playground safety handbook. Bethesda, MD: CPSC.