Today we know – thanks to numerous studies that have been conducted on the topic – that colour can have a big impact on human emotions. We are constantly absorbing the colours around us and whether that’s in a room or a playground it can have an impact on how we feel. That’s especially so for children who are always picking up cues from their environment – that’s why coloured playgrounds have the potential to impact childrens play.
How does colour impact children’s play?
Colour theory tells us that different colours can impact our emotions, either when they are experienced in isolation or when they are paired together. You don’t have to look far to find evidence of this – just see how you feel when you’re experiencing colour yourself. Note what kind of impact a colour has on you physically and emotionally, as well as what happens when you experience colours in combination.
The colour wheel and colour schemes
There are lots of ways to understand colour theory but the colour wheel is probably one of the most popular – this was developed in the 1600s but is still used today. It organises colours into primary, secondary and tertiary colours, as well as those that are considered to be ‘warm’ or ‘cool.’ Colour schemes are also important – and there are 3 main schemes to consider:
- Complimentary colours. These are found on opposite sides of the colour wheel to one another. They tend to have high contrast but also work well together.
- Analogous colours. You’ll find these colours next to each other on the colour wheel and they offer combinations that tend to be the most pleasing to the eye. They can also offer a way to accent certain features.
- Triadic colours. This combination of colours is found by drawing a triangle with equal sides on the colour wheel and picking the colours at the points. Triadic colours tend to be the most vibrant combinations that really stand out – but also work together.
How does a coloured playground impact children’s play?
- The type of colour can influence the associations that we have with it. For example, we tend to associate ‘warm’ colours with feeling energetic and invigorated, excited and happy while ‘cool’ colours are often linked to feeling more relaxed and calm. In a playground that means using those warm colours in areas designed for high activity and the cooler colours for the chill out zones.
- There are also many common colour associations that it’s useful to note when it comes to playgrounds. For example, black, white and gray communicate a more serious feel while brighter colours tend to make somewhere seem fun and intriguing.
- Dark shades don’t work in playgrounds. This is because they can make an area seem more run down and unappealing. They also don’t catch the eye and don’t tend to appeal in terms of drawing people in to play.
When it comes to playgrounds and children’s play these are some of the ways in which colour has an influence.