Category Archives: Swing Sets & Play

Childhood Obesity Prevention

Entice Outdoor Play With a Vinyl Playhouse

Are you surprised to know that one out of three kids are now considered overweight or obese in the United States? In today’s society obesity is mainly cause from what we eat, from fat-laden fast food to microwave and prepackaged meals. It seems that with this generation, everybody’s daily schedules are so busy that there is a very limited amount of time to make healthier meals or to squeeze in some exercise. Portion sizes, in the home and out, are becoming dramatically larger in size. Plus, more than ever, life is sedentary and kids spend more time playing with electronic devices, from computers to handheld video game systems, than actively playing outside.

Watching too much television is one of the most obvious reasons for of lack of exercise. Kids younger than 6 spend an average of 2 hours a day in front of a television screen. Older kids and teens spend almost 4 hours a day watching TV or videos. When computer use and video games are included, time spent in front of a screen increases to over 5 hours a day! Kids who watch more than 4 hours a day have a larger tendency to be overweight, compared with kids who watch 2 hours or less.

Sadly, during their youth, overweight children and adolescents are more likely to have risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease (such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes) than are other children and adolescents. Overweight children and adolescents are more likely to become obese as adults. For example, one study found that approximately 80% of children who were overweight at age 10-15 were obese adults at age 25. Another study found that 25% of obese adults were overweight as children. The latter study also found that if overweight begins before 8 years of age, obesity in adulthood has a higher tendency to be very severe and morbid.

Tips for parents to encourage healthy lifestyles in their children:

  • Set a positive example by being active yourself, and make physical activity part of your family’s daily routine. For Example, designate time for family walks or playing active games together.
  • Provide opportunities for children to be active by playing with them. Give them active toys and equipment, and take them to places where they can be active.
  • Offer positive reinforcement for the physical activities in which your child participates, and always encourage them to expand their interests with new activities.
  • Make physical activity fun. Fun activities can be anything the child enjoys, either structured or non-structured. They may range from team sports, individual sports, and/or recreational activities such as walking, running, skating, bicycling, swimming, playground activities, and free-time play.
  • Ensure that the activity is age appropriate and, to ensure safety, provide protective equipment such as helmets, wrist pads, and knee pads.
  • Find a convenient place to be active regularly.
  • Reduce the amount of time your kids are allowed to watch television or play video games to no more than two hours per day.

Encouraging your children to play outside in your own backyard becomes easier by installing items such as swing sets, play gyms, and outdoor playhouses. Outdoor play equipment, toys, and games encourage both exercise and the use of your children’s imagination. Outdoor playhouses provide hours of fun for kids while promoting exercise and healthy habits all at the same time. Realistically, you do not have to spend a fortune on a new tree house or fancy club house when many existing backyard playsets can be easily converted to include a vinyl playhouse by simply having a vinyl enclosure custom made. Even on a rainy day, a custom outdoor vinyl playhouse can become a secret fort, a dollhouse, or a ship at sea.


Do-It-Yourself Wooden Swing Sets

Settler Freestanding Wooden Swing Set Kit

Weighing the Options

If your kids have talked you into obtaining one of those backyard wooden swing sets, but you dread the thought of visiting a showroom and being talked into dropping thousands of dollars on mediocre equipment (and even more on the installation of that mediocre equipment), then consider the following three words: do it yourself. The good news is that even a novice do-it-yourself enthusiast can find superior quality, very affordable wooden swing set kits on the internet and put one together successfully once it arrives at the door. Even better news is that do-it-yourself wooden swing set kits are available for purchase without wood included or with wood included. The best choice depends only on how involved you wish the do-it-yourself aspect of the construction to be.

Do-it-yourself kits, whether they come with wood or without, should always offer free shipping and include complete step-by-step instructions for construction; all necessary hardware; basic accessories, such as swings, monkey bars, canopy top, etc. Additional accessories are usually available at extra cost, but any wooden swing set kit that requires separate purchase of necessary hardware should be avoided. Every nut, bolt, bracket, and spring clip needed to complete the project should always be included with the kit.

How does a do-it-yourself enthusiast make the choice between wooden swing sets that come without the wood versus swing sets that come with the wood? Consider the following. Kits that do not come with wood allow you the luxury of hand selecting the type of wood, and even each specific piece of wood, that will be used in the construction. More time and tools are needed for these kits, though, because each piece must be searched for, transported to the home, cut to exactly the right size, and sanded, and then holes must be drilled for each piece of hardware. Do-it-yourself enthusiasts who are truly enthusiastic about home construction projects may prefer this approach.

On the other hand, wooden swing set kits that come with the wood may be a better option for the do-it-yourself enthusiast who does not have enough time to devote to selecting and preparing the wood. The wood that comes with these kits is usually high quality and intended to last for many years with proper care. The biggest advantage to kits that include the wood is that all the wood is pre-cut, pre-sanded, and pre-drilled. With these major steps already completed, you can construct the wooden swing set in a fraction of the time.

Whether you choose a wooden swing set kit that includes wood or not, you can save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars simply by shopping wisely and constructing the equipment yourself. Either choice provides your kids with a fun and durable place to play and provides you with a feeling of pride and accomplishment. So, go ahead and do it yourself!

Three Swing Set Upgrades That Keep Kids Interested in Backyard Play

Heavy Duty Scoop Slide

The backyard swing set you bought for your kids when they were small was probably filled with challenging and fun equipment just right for their age and size. Bucket swings for safety, a short ladder leading to a scoop slide, and maybe even a club house for hours of pretend play. As kids grow older, though, their ideas about what’s fun and challenging evolve. Making sure that the backyard swing set doesn’t become an unused eyesore means keeping up with your children’s changing interests and abilities. By updating the swing set periodically with equipment and accessories that meet your kids’ current needs, you can ensure that the swing set continues to appeal to your kids over the course of many years.

Alternative Swings

Swings are an affordable place to start when it comes to updating a swing set’s accessories. If you haven’t done so already, swap out the bucket swing or half-bucket swing with a traditional belt swing or two. The belt swing is a standard “big kid” swing that will continue to interest kids as they grow. Don’t stop there, though. Swings come in all shapes and styles, and a little variety adds a lot of appeal to a backyard swing set.

Some of the more popular alternative swings include tire swings and disc swings. Kids like that these two swings move in any and every direction, rather than just back and forth. Kids also like the tire swing for its ability to hold two or more friends, which brings an increasingly social and cooperative element to the activity of swinging. Glider swings are another fun alternative to standard swings. Glider swings seat two people, back to back, who work as a team to keep the swing flying high. Finally, older kids and even adults can enjoy a wooden chair swing. A chair swing attaches to the swing set in the same way as any other kind of traditional swing, and it offers a relaxing way to swing gently while chatting with a friend or reading a book.


Swing sets generally come with a standard scoop slide, which is straight, smooth, and adequately thrilling for little ones. As kids get older, though, they tend to prefer a more exhilarating ride. Replacing your original slide for a spiral slide can offer that extra bit of thrill to older kids. Spiral slides are often completely enclosed tubes, too, similar to what you find on commercial or public playgrounds. The enclosed spiral brings an additional measure of excitement to the sliding experience.

Climbing Accessories

Climbing equipment offers growing kids a fun way to challenge their bodies’ developing abilities. While not usually appropriate for young children, climbing accessories help older kids gain confidence, strengthen muscles, and refine gross motor and motor planning skills. Monkey bars may be the most common type of climbing accessory found on standard swing sets, but they can be added to an existing swing set that doesn’t already have them. Rope ladders and rock wall climbing kits are available, too, and are exceptionally appealing to adventurous kids.

Updating the backyard swing set to meet the changing abilities and interests of your growing kids can be as easy as replacing the existing swings and slide and adding climbing features more suited to older kids. Making small but meaningful changes over time will not only encourage years of continued interest by your kids, but will also reinforce the value of your initial investment in the swing set.

Swing Sets Encourage Free Play and Foster Healthy Child Development

Trailblazer Swing Set Kit

The Importance of Play and Practical Tools for Parents

Life in today’s world is hurried, and the pressures put upon children to succeed can be overwhelming. In many communities, it isn’t uncommon for parents to overschedule their children with extracurricular activities that they feel can enrich the children’s knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, what becomes lost in this arrangement is the child’s need for free play. When there is no room in the day for free play, children suffer. According to a clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, “play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.” Play is so crucial to child development that the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights recognizes play as a right that every child deserves.

What is free play? Briefly, it is the kind of play that is child-centered. It is initiated by children and guided by children. Free play doesn’t involve screens or electronics, isn’t scheduled, and isn’t controlled or directed by adults. Free play is play that just happens. It can be an individual kind of play devised by one child, or it can be a cooperative effort on the part of a group of children. While adults may be invited to engage in free play with children, the children themselves must be the ones who direct the activities. Free play can come in any shape or form, but parents who wish to help encourage free play can provide children with tools to assist.

In the view of many parents, backyard swing sets are one of the best tools children can use for free play. With a swing set, children can initiate and engage in play, whether alone or with friends, and still be under the secretly watchful eye of mom or dad. Swing sets come in a wide array of configurations, so finding one that offers the desired features is easy. Wood swing sets are most common for backyard use, but metal swing sets are available as well. The most basic swing sets are equipped with a couple of swings and a trapeze bar or rings, but parents can also opt for more features. A club house, slide, and monkey bars are common additions that parents want for their children’s backyard swing set. Other accessories can be added, of course, to meet the individual needs of the family. Some of the options can include a climbing apparatus, different types of swings, or an attached sandbox. Pretend play can be encouraged with the addition of accessories like a telescope, steering wheel, or vinyl playhouse enclosure for the swing set’s existing club house.

Children are wonderfully creative and can use free play time to exercise their imagination. Swing sets are just one tool for free play that parents can provide to children, but they are a particularly powerful tool. Swing sets, in addition to encouraging imaginative free play, also encourage active play. On a swing set, children are required to move their bodies as well as their minds, and this goes a long way toward developing the whole child.

When it comes down to it, though, time is the most important tool that parents can provide their children to encourage free play. Allowing more time for children to engage in their own imaginative play will benefit their development far more meaningfully than a day filled with extracurricular activities ever could.

4 Steps to Maintaining a Safe and Healthy Sandbox

Sandbox Kit

Fast and Easy Tips for Play Time Safety

Kids don’t need costly, technologically complex toys and games in order to tap into their creative and imaginative powers. All that’s required to get kids’ creative juices flowing are some basic materials that can be found easily and inexpensively. One popular example of this is a sandbox. A big box or pit of sand and a few simple tools can keep kids occupied for hours.

Making sure the sandbox stays in good condition, though, is essential to ensuring that it remains a safe and healthy place to play. Unfortunately, the backyard sandbox is often missed by parents when it comes to play area maintenance. Here are four quick and easy tips for maintaining your backyard sandbox:

1. Replace the sand.

Over time, the sand in outdoor sand pits or sandboxes gets soiled and should be completely replaced. Generally speaking, replacing sand every year or two should be adequate, but more frequent changes might be needed depending on how often children play in the box and whether a sandbox cover is used consistently. Play sand, rather than building sand, is the best choice for children’s play areas because it is cleaner and free of materials, like clay, that are likely to stain clothing and skin.

2. Check sand toys.

Shovels, rakes, and other toys intended for sand play are not always the most durable of tools. Consequently, they don’t often last for more than a season or two. When sand toys or other tools used in the sandbox break, they can have sharp edges or pointy parts that can cause injuries. Before allowing kids to play in the sandbox this spring, check the condition of their sand toys. Toss out any broken or worn out tools, and replace them with tools made from more durable materials.

3. Check sand on a regular basis.

Don’t assume that the sandbox will stay in good condition over the course of the spring and summer. Sharp sticks, rocks, and other debris find their way into play sand quite easily. What’s more, sand toys may not be able to survive an entire season of active play. Checking the sand on a weekly basis allows you to discover and remove any potentially harmful debris and broken toys. You may also need to replenish play sand during these weekly check-ups, especially if kids have spent any time shoveling it out of the box.

4. Use a sandbox cover.

Sandbox covers are not used as extensively or as frequently as they should be, but they are one of the easiest and most important ways to maintain a safe and healthy sandbox. When used properly, sandbox covers prevent excess debris, like leaves, sticks, and rocks, from getting into the sand and creating a potential danger to children. Sandbox covers also protect sand from blowing away in strong breezes, and they keep insects from burrowing and nesting in the sand. Most importantly, sandbox covers prevent play sand from contamination by animals who use the sandbox as their toilet.

The only way to use sandbox covers successfully, of course, is to use them regularly when children are not playing in the box. Use sandbox covers that are made to fit your sandbox. Tarps and other makeshift covers can be easily dislodged or removed by animals or strong winds, making them unreliable and ineffective.

Overall, maintaining the backyard sandbox is a simple task that requires little time and few supplies. Keeping all play areas safe and healthy for your kids will give you peace of mind, and will provide your kids and their imaginations with hours of good, clean, simple fun.