Types of Playground Equipment

Types of Playground Equipment image by P. Dooly


Residential and commercial playground equipment is similar in style and structure. The play system pieces can be made of wood or plastic, or they can be a combination of the two. Metal playground equipment is mostly a thing of the past. Newer pieces are coated with a safety covering to prevent overheating and burning the children when they come in contact with it. Traditional equipment has evolved in style and design, offering more options than ever when it comes to play.

Monkey Bars

Monkey bars can still be found in local parks, but newer versions of hanging equipment are taking over the playground. Swinging bars instead of the fixed-in-place styles are gaining popularity. The movement of the bar offers a challenge as the child plans how to swing from one bar to the next. Other popular hanging bars or rings are formed in various shapes and styles, offering complexity and skill-building potential for all ages and ability levels.


The sandbox offers a child an opportunity to dig, design and build. Small, portable, raised plastic sandboxes can be placed on porches and patios. Wooden sandboxes can be built in the standard square or rectangular shapes, but they can also be built in the shape of a pirate ship or car. Store-bought sandboxes are often made of plastic, and can be shaped like turtles or dolphins. Trucks, cars, shovels, pails and sifters offer plenty of sand play adventures.

Climbing Equipment

Climbing structures have evolved over the years from basic domes to structures shaped like caterpillars, dinosaurs or geometric configurations. Climbing nets allow the imagination to run wild when children pretend to be pirates or spies. Plastic rock walls and ledges build strength and skills in analytical reasoning. These structures will encourage children to have adventures while climbing in a safe environment.

Swings and Slides

Swings and slides are traditional staples of the playground. Safety swings allow younger children to be fastened or lifted into place. Rope and tire swings are increasingly popular and can attach to play structures or can hang freely from a tree. Plastic slides don't hold heat like steel slides, and are available as add-ons to home playground equipment or commercial equipment. Curved slides that twist and are topped by tunnels are also popular.

Balance Equipment

Equipment that promotes balance will help a child improve his physical dexterity. Stepping stones that increase and decrease in height will challenge a child's balance and spatial awareness. Balance beams in various heights are another way for the child to learn these skills. Dual ropes connected to two poles, one rope just off the ground and the other rope strung about three feet higher, will allow the child to balance on the lower rope, while holding the upper rope.

Keywords: playground equipment, climbing net, rock wall

About this Author

Renee Winship is a published author and has worked in the family restaurant and catering business and has also worked in a medical lab facility. She's an adoptive parent and has worked in daycare. Winship has written more than 200 articles for Suite 101 and other online publications. She attended Southwest Missouri State University in Missouri with a nursing major.

Photo by: P. Dooly

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