Backyard Play Gyms & Play Areas
Why purchase a play gym for your backyard or outdoor play area?
- Play gyms are fun & exciting
- To create a private playground for your child
- To add another activity to share with your children
- Encourage your children to be, and stay, active in their lifetime
- Improve your home for a sale - families love backyard play gyms
- Develop strength, confidence, balance & stability in your children
- To add to your child's play experience - kids love play gyms & playhouses
- To build social & cognitive skills with other children in the safety of your backyard
Play Gyms & Outdoor Play Areas
A playground, playhouse, play area, play gym, outdoor play set or other outdoor recreational structures and zones devoted to children are quite common in both backyards and public parks around the globe. Typical backyard and public playground equipment includes a standard play gym, jungle gym or swing set made of redwood or pine combined with other equipment such as merry-go-rounds, slides, sandboxes, spring riders, tire swings, ladders, climbing walls, see-saws and monkey bars made from wood, metal and plastic. A common feature is a large play gym that connects to other pieces of recreational equipment, creating a massive play structure. The play gym is typically the centerpiece of any playscape for children found in backyards, schools and public parks.
The Backyard Playhouse
Also known as a Wendy house, named after the leading female character in Peter Pan, a playhouse can vary in size from tiny models designed for wobbly toddlers, to larger models that will accomodate young teenagers. They can be constructed from organic materials, such as wood, or synthetic materials, such as plastic. They are typically square in design, with one room, one door and several windows, like the Kids Crooked Playhouses you see pictured here. A playhouse can act like a cubby-hole for young children, providing a safe retreat.
The History of Playgrounds & Play Gyms
“Since play is a fundamental need, playgrounds should be provided for every child as much as schools.” - Theodore Roosevelt
The backyard play gym originates from the typical play area or playground found in most recreational parks across the United States. The roots of these playgrounds can be traced to Germany where, much like kindergartens and gymnasiums, an emphasis was placed on increased physical health through activity and heightened knowledge through hands-on learning.
Several aspects of German child and adult education spread throughout America during the early 1800s, with kindergarten being the most prominent. While the concept of kindergarten filtered into virtually every niche, class and demographic in American society during the 1800s, playgrounds initially failed to catch on with the public.
By the 1890s only a few examples of large playgrounds could be found in the United States, while kindergartens proliferated. Why? Cities rarely offered the defined space needed for children play areas due to population constraints; pictured above left you can see children from a New York City tenement building from the early 20th century playing in what appears to be an alleyway. Up until this point in time most American children led lives that offered little freedom between schoolwork, choirs and housework.
The Progressive Era of the early 1900s changed the status of children in America, with labor laws being passed to protect children from early work and requiring schooling. These laws, combined with an overall increase of general prosperity, improved public education systems and increased philanthropy, allowed the development of playgrounds and play areas in public settings.
A few historians contend the development of playgrounds in urban areas was sparked by the need of stronger soldiers, starting with World War I; many urban youths were denied entry into the services during this war due to poor physical health and stamina. These attempts to promote public playgrounds were a success; private residences started to build private playgrounds in backyards, complete with faux tree houses and swing sets.
After World War II the backyard play gym industry exploded, with returning troops creating backyard playgrounds for their children in American suburbs. These backyard play gyms in the 1940s and 1950s focused on improving motor skills through tire swings, seesaws, parallel bars, ladders and monkey bars.
The 1960s witnessed the incorporation of imaginative play, with equipment placed to offer a heightened imaginative experience. Children could now drive a car, ride a horse or steer an ocean liner without ever leaving the backyard. In the last few decades play gym builders have incorporated more learning equipment such as maps and music. This combination of physical play, imaginative play and educational play is standard in most outdoor play gyms built today.
Swings & Swing Sets
Found in virtually every play area and playground in the United States are individual swings or swing sets. Swings are seats attached to large overhead wooden or metal frames by hanging chains or ropes. An enjoyable and fun pastime, both children and adults love swinging on a swing set.
The seats are used to swing back and forth like a clock pendulum, creating an exciting experience similar to a rollercoaster or flying. Several swing seats attached to a large frame is called a swing set. Swing sets and swing seats come in a variety of sizes and styles, from a Baby Swing Seat that is molded out of solid plastic to glider seats, such as the Vario Tellerwippe.
Tire swings are quite common in America, as are simple rope swings that extend over a body of water such as a lake, river or pond. Sometimes swing seats are attached to a tree branch, which acts as the upper support in place of a metal or wood frame. Outside of playgrounds or backyard play gyms, swing seats are common on front porches and sometimes used by trapeze artists and other performers in circus acts.
Play Gym, Swing Set & Playhouse Brands
Creative Playthings - Large play sets made from pine & cedar with dozens of available custom options & accessories
Kettler - Basic swing sets made from durable synthetic materials such as high-impact resin & powder-coated steel
Kids Crooked House - A creative take on the standard backyard playhouse with odd angles, shapes, frames & colors
Did You Know?Natural playgrounds utilize natural elements, such as rocks and trees, to build a play environment.
Featured # 1:
View Swing Set
Featured # 2:
Deluxe Crooked Playhouse
Featured # 3:
View Play Gym