Expanding your playground equipment vocabulary is an essential step in understanding what makes a playground great and what to look out for when planning a new site.
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Old Playground Equipment NamesMerry-Go-Round
Modern Playground Equipment NamesSwings
Acronyms to Know
Bring Your Playground to Life
Old Playground Equipment Names
If you haven’t hit the playground for a few years, you’ll probably notice that some of your old favorites have been updated in appearance or renamed for modern requirements.
In some cases, certain types of playground equipment have fallen out of favor or the terminology becomes dated because of new safety guidelines. Some types of equipment have been discontinued altogether for being out of compliance with modern safety standards. But even though safety guidelines have changed, that doesn’t mean you won’t see some familiar playground equipment pieces installed on newer sites.
Merry-go-rounds are one of the classic playground fixtures that daredevils love to push to its limits. These large pieces of equipment allow kids to hop on and spin around as quick as they can by pushing against the ground to develop momentum. While this type of equipment is still fairly common, “merry-go-round” is no longer enough of an umbrella term to cover the many types of spinning playground equipment.
Merry-go-rounds, and other playground favorites like seesaws and swings and slides, must meet specific guidelines outlined by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Handbook for Playground Safety.
Another familiar entry on the list of favorite playground equipment is teeter-totters — also known as seesaws. The CPSC handbook notes that traditional fulcrum teeter-totters must limit their maximum angle to 25 degrees, and partial car tires or other shock-absorbin
3. Giant Stride
This piece of equipment hasn’t been seen for almost half a century, and is not recommended by the CPSC.
The giant stride consists of a tall pole fixed in the ground. Ropes with ladder-like bars hang down so kids can grab them. The idea is that kids hold onto the bars for dear life and run around as fast as they can, sometimes resulting in a brief moment of “flying” or hovering above the ground while spinning. Aside from its lack of accessibility, the giant stride also tends to result in kids smacking into each other or the pole.
4. Monkey Bars
In their classic form, monkey bars are just a horizontal ladder suspended above the ground by upright poles. They allow kids to hop up and swing from bar to bar much like a chimpanzee. Monkey bars were also usually a feature of larger jungle gyms, which gave kids the opportunity to climb and swing in different directions.
While monkey bars are still loved and found in playgrounds everywhere, the original design has been updated and altered in so many ways — it’s often not just a horizontal ladder anymore — that you sometimes need more specific terminology to describe it. When someone mentions a “ring climber,” they’re talking about one of the many monkey bar adaptations.
5. Still Rings
Still rings — similar to the kind used in gymnastics, and hung from long chains on playgrounds — are still very much a part of playgrounds. It’s common to see them labeled as therapeutic hand rings, with shorter chains. Children can practice their upper body strength by supporting their body weight when hanging from the rings.
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