Playgrounds have been enriching children’s lives since the mid-1800s. Because of the many benefits they provide, playgrounds have become a central component of parks, schools, and communities across the globe. Children love playgrounds because they can play with friends, build their skills, and be adventurous. Adults enjoy them because they provide a place for their children to exercise, socialize, and, most importantly, expend some of their abundant energy. In a nutshell, playgrounds do wonders to stimulate a child’s cognitive, physical, and social development.
THE TOP 5 MOST POPULAR COMMERCIAL PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT
Over the years, playground equipment materials and components have evolved, yet many of the original designs have stood the test of time. Here are the five most popular types of playground equipment kids use when they’re at a playground and why:
The most popular playground equipment among children is by far a swing set. Swings give children the sensation of flying and create an increased level of excitement as they swing higher with each push. Even adults enjoy the rhythmic motion, as it takes us back to the carefree days of our youth. While commercial swing set designs have not changed much, their structural integrity has increased significantly to make them incredibly safe and secure. In fact, today’s commercial swing sets must meet stringent safety standards set by organizations like the American Society for Testing and Materials.
Swing sets come in multiple configurations with anywhere from one to eight swings. Their in-ground mounted, powder-coated steel frames are made of industrial-grade, powder-coated steel and feature heavy-duty hardware for added durability. Today’s swing set systems come with a choice of seat options to accommodate different ages and abilities. In addition to traditional belt seats, swing sets can be fitted with nested seats, bucket seats, as well as adaptive seats with harnesses to support those with disabilities.
Another sought-after structure at a playground is a slide. Not only are slides a great confidence-builder for kids, but they also promote physical activity and dexterity as they race up the ladder to the top. Slides can be exhilarating – the faster the slide, the better the ride. Thankfully, today’s playground slides are better engineered to avoid the burns that resulted from old-fashioned aluminum slides that were exposed to the hot sun. Built first and foremost for safety, modern slides are now constructed of industrial-strength roto-molded plastic that doesn’t conduct heat and maintains stability, even after extensive exposure to the elements. Freestanding commercial slides come with either sturdy metal stairs or ladders coated with PVC, which provides a non-slip surface for children to safely climb.
The slides themselves come in a variety of forms – from straight and wavy slides to spirals and tubes – all guaranteeing thrills and laughs. Split slides like the 5-Foot Triple Sectional Split Slide create a competitive challenge where three children can race down slides at the same time. Today’s slides offer limitless fitness and fun for everyone.
3. SPRING RIDERS
Spring riders are another timeless park activity – one that sparks the imagination and encourages exercise. Built for both toddlers and older children, playground spring riders come in a range of designs – from motorcycles and trucks to dinosaurs and horses. Once the child puts the spring rider in motion, he or she can pretend they are driving a fire truck to the firehouse, taking their pet grasshopper for a ride or traveling up to space in their rocket ship. These commercial spring riders are made of high-density polyethylene construction that holds up to substantial wear and tear.
Some spring riders are designed for two children, like the Flip Flopper Playground Spring Rider for 5-to-12-year-olds. It’s a twist on a traditional seesaw and includes large handles to ensure children feel safe. The industrial-built frame is made of powder-coated steel and features comfortable roto-molded plastic seats. What a great way to foster teamwork and build social skills!
Children have energy – and lots of it – which is why climbers are very popular structures on playgrounds. Playground climbers come in many different forms to advance a child’s motor skills, problem-solving skills, and overall physical development. Rock walls like the Craggy Island Playground Rock Wall Climber are the newest types of climbers to attract and engage kids. Strategically placed grooves, handles, and holes allow them to traverse molded plastic walls and make their way to the top. Once they reach the peak, they can choose to climb back down the way they came or use the built-in ladders on the sides to reach the ground safely.
Other popular climber structures include ladder climbers, rope grids and pixel climbers. With so many designs and structure types to choose from, you can outfit your outdoor space with different playground climbers to accommodate all ages and ability levels. Make sure your climber equipment is commercial-grade, meets national safety standards, is securely mounted in the ground, and has a soft, safe ground surface underneath to pad any potential falls.
5. PLAYGROUND SYSTEMS
Last but not least, playground systems are also a top draw. Also known as commercial play systems, play sets, and jungle gyms, they combine multiple activities and play components into one large playground structure that provides hours of fun. With commercial playground systems, there are tunnels to explore, slides to race down, ladders to climb, bridges to traverse, games to play – and the list goes on!
Playground systems are designed to target specific age groups and their developmental stage. There are daycare play systems built for toddlers from ages 2 to 5, school yard playgrounds for ages 5 to 12, as well as infant playground equipment for children under 2 years old. Whatever age level you’re accommodating for your outdoor space, commercial play systems are sure to nurture positive behaviors – from teamwork and sharing to camaraderie and courage.
ESSENTIALS FOR ANY PLAYGROUND
Outfitting your outdoor space with the most popular types of playground equipment is important, but there’s more to playground structures than just their wow factor. Before you invest in playground equipment, make sure it checks all these boxes:
Commercially made: Unlike commercial-made products, residential play equipment is constructed of sub-standard materials that can rust, break and deteriorate. Make sure you buy commercial play equipment made of more durable components and weather-resistant coatings that last longer and require less maintenance.
Safe: Commercial-made playground equipment must adhere to stringent national safety standards. Depending on the type of equipment you purchase, ensure it meets IPEMA, ASTM, and CPSC standards.
Accessible: Be sure the play equipment you have can be used by children of all ages, sizes, and abilities. Consider adding wheelchair ramps, sensory play panels, ground-level components, and additional safety features like harnesses on swing set seats.
Colorful: Color not only draws children’s attention; it also affects their cognitive skills. That’s why commercial play equipment comes in a rainbow of colors to help boost visual communications, bolster creativity, and improve learning experiences. Build a virtual color wheel of play equipment for your playground area and help stimulate their senses.
At Picnic Furniture, our huge product catalog of playground equipment includes all the most popular structures and styles for every age and ability, plus our products tick the all-important boxes above. We encourage you to shop our website, discover the possibilities, and then contact one of our expert associates to help you plan your outdoor playground area. Call us at 1-800-775-8409 or chat with us online today!