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Help me build an awesome playground!

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Our home sits in front of a city park, which is one of the reasons I chose this house.  It has been a peaceful refuge of nature to escape to and I find myself falling more and more in love with it as the years pass.  Only a few months after we moved in, some kids were playing with fire one day at the park which resulted in a large fire that destroyed the very large playground structure.  A couple of trees burned, as well.  It was a devastating loss for our neighborhood.  

I have spent the past two and a half years working with our neighborhood association and countless local and national community resources as well as researching a diverse spectrum of playground styles in an effort to get educated, pool resources and rebuild the play structure.  Now, the exciting time is finally here!  We have generous funding and a team of experts ready to move forward quickly. And thank goodness I’ve been doing my research because I have the honor of representing the neighborhood in this project.

In talking with my own and other local children and contemplating the design of the playground, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really want to focus on quality over quantity.  We have the option to either put in one of those massive contraptions with all the bells and whistles OR to do separate independent pieces that are more simplified.  The main pieces that I'm hearing the most demand for are swings, monkey bars, and some sort of spinning contraption such as this -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oX-6LWnKHkU.  

If we go with the separate pieces, the ‘fall zone’ for each piece must be much larger in diameter than the overlapping fall zones that are permitted in the design of combination structures.  This will result in fewer pieces of equipment to play on due to the space constraints.  In contemplating all of the options, however, I keep thinking that we’d get more use out of the equipment that kids say they enjoy the most instead of a more traditional structure.  The kids often point out to me that many playgrounds they’ve played at have equipment that looks really cool but in which they ultimately determine the play value isn’t as appealing in use as it is to look at.  These are mostly bigger kids who have a good amount of playground experience under their belt by now.  

What do you think?  What is your idea of the perfect playground?  If you have some especially fun equipment in your neck of the woods, please share whatever details you can on it.

These pieces are going to, hopefully, be in use for many generations to come.  I really want to be sure the neighborhood will get the most out of whatever is built.

 


Thank you!

post #2 of 29
My kids are. Older so I'm totally out of the loop on what is "cool" right now. However, I do work for a Parks and Rec dept and just went to a seminar on the ADA and playgrounds. Some pretty stringent specifications came on board in March of last year. I would start there.
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your reply.  :)

 


The team includes several playground architects and planners hired by the city and so we're already choosing from equipment that comes from ADA-approved sources.  I'm hoping to hear some general ideas of what people and their children enjoy playing on at playgrounds.  Also, I should clarify that the equipment we're installing is going to be geared mainly toward older children and teenagers (but also still some pieces user-friendly for younger children) because the park already has a toddler swingset.  So, we're looking for pieces specifically designed to handle a lot of weight and larger body size.

 

 

 

 

Here are a few pieces that we're considering:

 

Arch Swingset:  http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-swings

 

F-4 spinner:  http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-motion

 

Rock N' Rider:  http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-motion

 

Galaxy spinner:  http://crs4rec.com/crs-products/crs-fun-on-land/play-equipment/xccent-play/independent-play/

 

Atom climber:  http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-climbers#Atom

 

Ion X-Wave 2:  http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-x-wave


Edited by yaM yaM - 2/14/13 at 9:22am
post #4 of 29

I will pipe up and say that if there is space, I suspect you will find lots of grateful people if there is a separate and reserved area or piece of euipment for the littles.  The big kids like it, and the little kids' Mamas like it.  The littles seem a bit jealous... but it's a small price to pay to be able to take your 1 year old to the playground and not have her mowed over by a 5 year old/ in the 5 year old's way.

 

How awesome for you and your neighborhood! 
 

post #5 of 29

Depends on your location but some shade or shelter from the elements is nice for caregivers and to give the kids a break when they aren't on the play equipment. I find it's often an overlooked amenity in many playgrounds. 

post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 

Thank you, friends!

post #7 of 29

One of our favorite local parks has a rope climbing structure like this.  It's always getting used by all ages,  has never seemed to have any issues in the past (10 or so) years we've gone there that have taken in out of service.  It is also really fun as an adult.  It is rather big, however.  

 

 

Of your choices, there are a few parks we go to with things that rock/move and you ride on (like the wave or rock/ride thing) - and they've often seemed to end up out of service multiple times a year.  Simpler, huge wooden seesaw (or whatever a modern equivalent is) might be more durable.

 

I love the climber you pictured - there never seem to be enough places with things to climb around us, and it's a favorite.  The classic dome climbers are great too.  

 

Dd1's school has a single spinner similar to what you'd pictured above and from what I've always heard it is very popular.   

 

 

I'll personally ditto choosing individual pieces like a basic swing set, climbing thing, and something else over a big multi-piece unit.  And consider taking into consideration what other nearby parks do or don't have (If they all have slides, for example - easy to leave out.  If they all happen to have good climbing structures, maybe err smaller for that, etc.)

 

Things like painted hopscotch on the ground/foursquare/etc. are also easy to fit places and can be lots of fun.  

post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 

Mumkimum, thank you so much for all of your helpful advice!  You make some really good points.  

 

I love the rope climbing structure you linked to -- it's in one of the company's catalog's that we're looking at.

 

I did take into consideration a lot of damage/problem-related concerns and researched several of the pieces I listed above with prevention of that in mind.  Fortunately, the spinning pieces listed above are all in the very-low-maintenance category.  I agree that it's definitely important to minimize risks in this area for the reasons you mentioned.  I hadn't thought about the rocking pieces experiencing frequent disrepair but it makes sense that they could.  FWIW, the technology in this particular rocker is unique in several ways according to the manufacturer (no spring; fully-enclosed mechanism).

 

I think it's great that you also favor individual play structures.  All the local children I've talked with say the same thing.  It is fascinating to me that there aren't more parks designed this way.  Love the hopscotch suggestion.  Thank you!

post #9 of 29
I love all of the pieces you have chosen. They all have a unique takeon your standard fare of playground equipment.

I agree with the pp who suggested a shade structure. Also several benches, and ideally picinic tables. It's so nice to be able to take the kids to the park and have lunch there. And maybe a couple extra trash cans more than you think you might need. The parks in my area always have the trash bins overflowing and swarming with bees in the summertime.

The only things I would add is a rope climbing activity (which I see someone else also suggested) and a tunnel or playhouse stucture that is kid sized and will accomodate 4 or 5 kids at once to be inside it.
post #10 of 29

The coolest piece of equipment I've ever seen at a playground is a giant wooden hamster wheel. It was basically a cylinder made of planks of wood - fairly smooth, but the planks were narrow and provided a bit of grip - and big enough for an adult to stand. You could just use it as a treadmill, running in place, or you could have some kids run to make it spin while other kids sat on the floor and kept sliding down the walls as they rose. It was neat!

post #11 of 29

My local park has a "Rock N' Rider" and I've never seen kids use it (and we're at the park a LOT). It looks really cool and maybe the kids in your neighborhood would like it, but the ones in mine don't use it much.

post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 

MamaInTheDesert, those are all great suggestions.  We do plan to use whatever is leftover in the budget for benches and trash cans (there are already several picnic table sets in the area).  The shade structure idea is probably not going to work because the city is concerned about another fire incident, but we do have a good amount of trees available for shading.

 

There will be a good amount in the budget leftover to work with due to the laws surrounding fall zones of independent play pieces and how they're not allowed to be overlapping, which will necessitate fewer pieces of equipment altogether.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

The coolest piece of equipment I've ever seen at a playground is a giant wooden hamster wheel. It was basically a cylinder made of planks of wood - fairly smooth, but the planks were narrow and provided a bit of grip - and big enough for an adult to stand. You could just use it as a treadmill, running in place, or you could have some kids run to make it spin while other kids sat on the floor and kept sliding down the walls as they rose. It was neat!

 

 

That sounds amazing!  I'm going to go Google that . . . 

 

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShyingViolet View Post

My local park has a "Rock N' Rider" and I've never seen kids use it (and we're at the park a LOT). It looks really cool and maybe the kids in your neighborhood would like it, but the ones in mine don't use it much.

 

 

Good feedback, thank you!  I am surprised to learn that and will adjust our list accordingly.  I was only going by theory and real-world experience is much more useful.  I only want to invest in equipment with strong play value.  No room for mediocre on this playground!!

post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 

Things are progressing very quickly and I want to share the updated list of the equipment that we're getting.  Please continue sharing your feedback!  smile.gif

 

 

 

  1. Swing Set and ADA Swing :: http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-swings
  2. F-4 Spinner :: http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-motion#F-4   -and-   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oX-6LWnKHkU 
  3. Stand-Alone Reactor Wheel :: http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/classix-overhead-motion#Reactor   -and-   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeL-IA0w4Jg 
  4. Atom Climber :: http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/independent-climbers#Atom 
  5. Balance Beam (traditional standard straight-line style) 
  6. Horizontal Ladder (traditional standard monkey bars) 
  7. Axis Spinner (link below)
  8. Periwinkle (teeter totter) (link below)

 

 

 

The last two items were invented so recently that there are hardly any photos and no videos available, but you can see one small photo of each on the Xccent Play Company's virtual catalog at the following links:

 

 

 

At the above links, please run a search for:

Axis Spinner :: item 'D' on page 149 (product # 48751)

Periwinkle (teeter totter) :: item 'C' on page 138 (product # 41430)

post #14 of 29

I think you've made great choices!! I'm sure the kids will love it.

post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thank you!
post #16 of 29
Thread Starter 

. . . and now I've come across this amazing thing!

 

 

http://www.xccentrecreation.com/products/lappset-axiom#Axiom_Spinning_Machine

 

 

(in case it doesn't appear on the page with the 'Spinning Machine', click the small photo in the lower right corner.)

post #17 of 29
We have the exact same swing set you chose at a local playground, and it is easily the most used ice of equipment. We also have a plastic structure with several slides and a little house area, and the older kids tend to hang out there. They don't bother with our climber as much. The tire swing gets a lot of use.
post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 

Isn't it amazing how popular ordinary swings are still, even after the invention of all the latest playground equipment?  Swings have been the first thing that ALL of the neighborhood kids I've talked with have requested for our new playground..

post #19 of 29

This is Perdido Children's Park in Pensacola, Florida.  I once asked my children what their favorite playground was of all time -- and they all wanted this park.  It was built by the community and is a MEGA park...so quite unrealistic for most municipal groups.  but you may want to submit your question to their planning committee.  They did a lot of surveying of children before designing it.

 

http://pensacolawithkids.com/2009/07/perdido-kids-park/

 

 

 

post #20 of 29
Thread Starter 

That is an amazing playground, indeed!  Thank you for sharing!

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