Do you remember the joy of playing on a swing when you were a kid? If you’re ready to purchase a play set for your children, you want one that is durable, safe, and age appropriate. However, before you spend any money, there are a few things to consider.
Making the choices
First, you need to determine where you’re going to put the play set. Look for a level area clear of trees, fences or other obstacles. Leave plenty of room around the play set, at least six feet, so children have space to run and stay clear of the moving parts. When you find the right spot, add a layer of wood mulch or sand several inches thick to help soften any falls or tumbles.
Now you’re ready to make some decisions on the actual play set. It’s important to keep in mind the age of the children who will be using it. Obviously pre-schoolers need and want different equipment than older youngsters. Take them out to the park and watch which equipment they seem to enjoy. Manufacturers are always looking for innovation and there is a lot of play equipment available. Knowing what your kids like will give you some direction.
Metal or wood?
Do you purchase a metal or wood play set? Metal sets tend to be the most popular, in part, because they’re the less expensive option. Most of the metal sets made today have some high-density plastic parts. Kids seem to find contoured plastic seats more comfortable than the older flat seat. The smaller metal sets are easy to erect and can be moved around. However, because they are lighter in weight, they should be anchored to the ground for safety.
Your choice of wooden play sets is also extensive with elaborate setups that can rival the school playground. Most wooden play sets offer the advantage of expandability — they can “grow” with your child. You can add on new equipment or replace existing pieces as your child’s interests change.
Typically, wooden playsets are made of pressure-treated wood that comes in a kit with inviting names such as Windjammer, Fantasy Fort, and Pirate Playhouse. Among the numerous add-on features are slides, trapeze bars and merry-go-rounds. Each kit comes with assembly plans, but you can expect to spend some time putting it all together.
John Koziol, who helps Chase-Pitkin customers choose play sets at his store in Rochester, New York, says, “We point out the features and benefits of both metal and wooden play sets. Right now, the wooden play sets seem to be very popular.”
Like all kid-pleasing activities, adult supervision is essential. Whether you choose metal or wood, check hardware, support structure, and moving parts of the equipment regularly. Doing a little planning will mean you and your children will end up with a play set that will provide hours of fun for years to come.