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Swing Set Basics

  • 7 Reasons to Buy a Backyard Jungle Gym

    When it comes to entertaining the kids, nothing compares to having a backyard jungle gym at home. Jungle gyms offer endless playtime, plus plenty of opportunities to enhance independence and socialization.

    In order to help our customers understand all the benefits of a swing set, we've created an infographic. Here's a quick summary of all the advantages of a backyard jungle gym.

    • Exercise: An active child is a happy one -- and a healthy one. Jungle gyms help children get into a routine of outdoor exploration that hopefully lasts a lifetime. During an hour of running, climbing and swinging, your child not only burns calories, but also improves athletic skills.
    • Sharing: Whether your children have siblings or neighbors or friends, the nature of the backyard jungle gym reinforces the idea of taking turns. Since many swing sets have a single slide, a single rock wall, a single set of monkey bars, etc., children simply must share. Of course, having mom and dad there to issue sharing reminders as needed is helpful, but you should also know that the kids will probably surprise you and navigate turn-taking amongst themselves.
    • Imagination: It won't take long for the kids to put on their creative caps and turn the jungle gym into a pirate ship at sea, a castle, a fort or a secret hideaway. Sit back and relax while you listen to the kids use their imagination. We guarantee you'll enjoy yourself just as much as they enjoy themselves.
    • Bonding: Our motto is "Creating Childhood Memories" for a reason. But we have to admit, the memories created around the jungle gym are shared by the whole family. Maybe mom and dad join in every now and then for a quick zip down the slide. Or perhaps grandma and grandpa enjoy nothing more than giving the little ones a push. A quality jungle gym will be sturdy enough so that even adults can enjoy it.

    We hope you check out the infographic below for additional information on the benefits of jungle gyms.

    Eastern Jungle Gym Backyard Jungle Gym Infographic

  • Playset Plans: How to Build a Swing Set

    Searching for playset plans can be a challenging task. With so many different swing set models on the market, the options may seem overwhelming. We're writing today to give you the same advice we've given customers for 24 years: Keep it simple. When it comes to building a DIY swing set, we always suggest the Classic A-Frame Cedar Swing Set (available as a hardware kit here). The design is simple, and so is the construction. Plus, you can never go wrong with a pair of traditional sling swings and a gym ring/trapeze bar accessory in the backyard.

    First, we recommend selecting an appropriate space for the swing set. The playset plans for the Classic A-Frame specify a finished product that is about 12 feet wide, 8 feet tall and 8 feet deep. It should be installed on fairly level ground, and there should be about six feet of clearance from obstructions. Be sure to also select a soft surface, such as rubber mulch or a plush lawn.

    A-Frame Playset Plans Material List

    Lumber

    Classic cedar swing set from Eastern Jungle Gym When it comes to DIY swing sets, the Easy 1-2-3 A-Frame Swing Set Bracket is an essential.

     

    • One (1) 4'x6'x10'
    • Four (4) 4'x4'x8'

     

    Hardware and Accessories

      • Twelve (12) 3/8" x 6.5" hex bolts, with twenty-four (24) 3/8" washers and 12 lock nuts
      • Thirty-six (36) 5/16 x 3" lag bolts, with thirty-six (36) 5/16" washers
      • Two (2) swing set support brackets (try our patent-pending Easy 1-2-3 A-Frame Swing Set Bracket)
      • Four (4) anchor stakes
      • Two (2) sling swings
      • One (1) gym ring trapeze bar combo swing
      • Six (6) ductile swing hangers
      • Six (6) snap hooks

    A-Frame Playset Plans Tool List

    • 1/2" standard socket, 3/4" standard socket
    • Standard socket wrench, open-end wrench
    • Electric drill
    • 1/4" pilot drill bit, 5/16" drill bit
    • 2-pound hammer, claw hammer
    • Tape measure
    • Step ladder
    • Safety glasses

    A Few Important Notes

    Before you begin assembling, we want to remind you of two critical steps. First, drilling pilot holes is essential in order to minimize splitting of the lumber. Second, we recommend always installing a washer before driving in a lag bolt.

    Additionally, if you plan to use our Easy 1-2-3 A-Frame Swing Set Bracket, keep in mind that the product is designed for kiln-dried wood. We strongly caution against forcing the wood into the bracket. The lumber should slide in easily, and the fit should be snug. If you find your lumber is too large, try planing down to achieve a comfortable fit.

    Instructions: Beginning Steps

        • Install the ductile swing hangers. When you purchase a complete swing set from Eastern Jungle Gym, the holes in the lumber are pre-drilled. But if your swing set is a true DIY project, this likely won't be the case. That means you will have to measure and mark the lumber to ensure the swing hangers are properly spaced. To do this, lay the swing beam (the 4'x6'x10' piece of lumber) on the ground and start at one end of the lumber. Place the center of the first hanger 18 inches in, on center (OC). Go another 18 inches OC for the second hanger, then 12 inches OC for the third. Measure another 18 inches OC for the fourth hanger, and from there, measure 12 inches OC for the fifth. Finally, measure 18 more inches OC for the last hanger. This should leave you with another 18 inches from the center of the swing hanger to the end of the beam. You should have a total of 12 holes, or six sets of two holes, to accommodate your three swings. The diagram below provides an illustration of the spacing, and may be enlarged by clicking.A-Frame Swing Beam Drilling Diagram for Playset PlansOnce you have marked the lumber, pilot drill the first set of on-center hanger holes using the electric drill and 5/16" drill bit. Next, insert bolts, with washers, from what will be the top of the swing beam. It may be helpful to turn the wood on its side for this process, as shown in the video below. Once the bolts and washers are in, slide the hanger over the bolts and add washers. Finally, screw on lock nuts and washers, and tighten using an open-end wrench. Repeat for the remaining hangers.

    Adding Brackets and Erecting the Swing Set

      • The next step is to install the swing set brackets. Position the beam so the newly installed hangers are facing upward (the opposite of the way they will rest once the playset is fully assembled). Slide one of the brackets onto the end of the lumber until it is flush with the wood. Pilot drill in the designated locations (our brackets come pre-drilled, which makes your life much easier), using the 1/4" pilot drill bit. Then, use one lag bolt and washer per bracket hole to fasten the bracket. Do the same on the reverse side of the bracket, and then repeat the entire process on the other end of the beam.
      • The side supports must be fastened next. Your remaining lumber (four 4x4x8' timbers) will make up the side supports. Install these using the same method we provided for attaching the beam to the bracket.
      • It's time to erect the playset. Once each of the brackets have been secured to all three pieces of lumber, you are ready to stand up the unit. If you've been working alone thus far, you'll need to find another adult to assist with this step.

    Finishing Touches

      • Hang the swings.  We are nearing the end of our playset plans, which means it's time to put up the swings! Use the snap hooks to attach the swing chains to the ductile swing hangers. We typically place the gym ring trapeze bar combo in the center position, but arrangement preferences vary.
      • Secure your swing set with anchor stakes. If you are using our anchor stakes, you will want to position the anchor at an angle and insert it into the ground next to the beam. You can accomplish this by using the hammer cited in the tool list above. Once the stake is in the ground, pound down the anchor until you are able to secure the anchor washer to the bottom of the post with a lag bolt. If you have purchased your stakes elsewhere, we recommend reviewing and following the specific directions for that product.

    Congrats!

    Now that you've reached the end of this blog, we want to congratulate you on successfully completing your project! We hope these playset plans have been helpful and we welcome your questions.

  • DIY Swing Sets: The Essential Piece of Hardware

    If you've ever Googled DIY swing sets, you know there are an endless number of plans and designs to consider. Additionally, there are tons of hardware and accessory products to choose from. In this blog you'll learn about the one must-have item for all DIY swing sets. Whether the project is your first or 50th, this piece of hardware will make your life easier.

       The Product

    After 24 years' designing, manufacturing and installing playsets, we know that a strong connecting bracket is an absolute necessity for all swing beams. That's where the Easy 1-2-3 A-Frame Swing Set Bracket comes in. We designed this product six years ago to add another level of safety, strength and security to our swing sets. Fast-forward to today, and we have a patent pending on the design. And it turns out that we're no longer the biggest fans of the bracket -- our customers are!

    The Easy 1-2-3 A-Frame Swing Set Bracket is made of heavy-duty steel that has been welded together. We designed this piece of hardware to work with two 4” x 4” supports and one 4” x 6” swing beam. The idea is simple: Slide in the lumber and fasten with bolts. Repeat on the other side (depending on the specifics of your DIY swing set) and your swing set has a solid, strong foundation.

    Demonstration

    Specifications to Keep in Mind

    There are a few things we'd like you to remember as you plan your DIY swing set. We've designed the bracket to work with a kiln-dried 4" x 6" with a true measurement of 3-1/2" x 5-1/2". Our recommendation is based on the size of the bracket opening (3-5/8" x 5-5/8").

    With that in mind, we stress that the lumber should never be forced into the bracket. The goal is for it to simply slide in, which is the case for the great majority of customers. In the event that the lumber is too large, we suggest planing down the wood as needed. To avoid this task, we advise bringing a tape measure when purchasing the lumber to ensure you get the proper size.

    Finally, for more information on the bracket, check out Eastern Jungle Gym's verified third party reviews from TrustPilot. They provide lots of first-hand details. And don't forget that we're always here to help! Simply give us a call at 1-800-752-9787, or leave a comment below!

  • Play Slides: 5 Things to Know

    For most children, the slide is the most exciting part of the swing set. Even for adults, zipping down the slide is an exhilarating and enjoyable moment that brings us back to childhood. Whether you're shopping for a swing set or going the DIY route, we recommend learning about the different types of play slides available. Gaining this knowledge will allow you to pick the right slide for your family.

    Here are five things we think you should know when searching for play slides:

    1. There is no standard size. If you enjoy shopping online, do remember to look beyond the photos and check out the specs. Two similar looking swing sets may appear to have play slides that are the same length, but in reality, one may be 10 feet long while another is 12 or 14. The same goes for spiral tube slides, which come in a variety of sizes too. But remember to plan for the future. The kids will outgrow a toddler slide sooner than you think!
    2. There are a few safety factors to consider. When it comes to your child's wellbeing, we suggest choosing a slide with high side walls. This is especially important if you have small children (don't forget about cousins and neighbors) playing on the swing set.
    3. Not all slides are created equally. For starters, different styles of play slides offer different assembly methods. Here at Eastern Jungle Gym, wave slides come with our compact to mid-sized residential swing sets. Our larger playsets often incorporate scoop slides, with double-wall construction. That feature is one of a few that makes them similar to commercial grade units. Wave and scoop slides offer different rides, so if possible, we advise letting the kids try both before deciding.
    4. Color is your choice. We often hear customers wonder if one color will retain less heat than another. In our 24 years' of experience, we've seen that the heat difference between colors is negligible. Choose whichever colors will look best in your backyard! If you are concerned about heat, try to find a playset spot that is shady at least part of the day.
    5. Two is better than one! Having two play slides on your swing set really does double the fun. Whether they are two of the same or one is open and one is a spiral tube slide, this is the one activity that kids are always vying for.  If your swing set simply cannot accommodate a second slide, simply swap out the old one for a new unit. The installation process is fairly simple, so you can go back and forth easily, depending on the kids' preference.

    Play slides are the crown jewel of any backyard swing sets, so do your research and find the right one. The kids will get years of use -- and countless childhood memories --  out of a high quality, age-appropriate slide.

  • Six Ways to Modify a Backyard Playset for Older Kids

    When it comes to providing outdoor fun for the little ones in the family, there's nothing better than a backyard playset. It is not uncommon for parents or grandparents to purchase one for the kiddoes once they reach a certain age. But as the kids get older, it may be necessary to make some minor adjustments to the swing set in order to keep the activities exciting and developmentally challenging. After all, a backyard playset is an investment that families should be able to enjoy for a number of years.

    If this situation sounds familiar, there are several potential modifications you can implement to make the swing set more age-appropriate. They range from simple and inexpensive to a bit more advanced. Depending on the types of activities your swing set features, here are six options to consider:

    1. Rock Climbing Wall Adjustments: Removing some of the hand holds on the backyard playset's rock wall will make the climb a bit more difficult. This will help the kids to improve their agility and upper body strength.
    2. Replace the Swings: It may seem like a no-brainer, but any infant swings or toddler swings should be replaced with traditional sling swings. Sling swings allow youngsters to work their leg muscles as they pump and soar through the air.
    3. Add monkey bars: Because monkey bars require coordination skills and athletic arms, the activity is typically reserved for older children. Adding a set of monkey bars (or, as some call it, an overhead ladder) to a backyard playset that the kids have had for a few years will make the unit seem brand new.
    4. Add a gym ring/trapeze bar comboLike monkey bars, the gym ring/trapeze bar combo is another item parents usually hold off on during their initial purchase. But once they are physically ready for the challenge, the kids love this activity. They especially have a blast hanging upside down! If you don't want to sacrifice a spot on your swing beam for this activity, you can always add a wooden accessory arm off the clubhouse as a fourth swing position.
    5. Swap out the step ladder: Replace the wooden step ladder -- which many parents opt for early on because of the surface area it offers -- for one with metal rungs. Or you could add a wooden gang plank ramp, which gives the kids a chance to jog up to the clubhouse, another great way to get their heartbeat up! 
    6. Upgrade or add a slide: It is common for moms and dads to wait on the spiral tube slide because they want to keep the tots in sight at all times. Once the children are a bit older, that reservation fades. Whether you add this type of slide or upgrade to a larger one (say the 14-foot scoop slide from a 10-foot wave slide), updating the slide gives any backyard playset a new look and feel.

    Each of these options are a great way to renew the interest in your backyard playset. Kids will be kids, and at times, that means parents need to get a bit creative to help avoid boredom. Believe it or not, even adding a new accessory toy is often enough to get the children excited again and playing on the set.

  • 9 Tips for Assembling a Wood Playset

    Building a wood playset for the kids should be nothing short of a memorable experience that involves the whole family. But sometimes this is easier said than done.

    Most of us have been in a situation where a project that should be an enjoyable opportunity for bonding and productivity slowly turns into a slightly frustrating situation because of minor mishaps. Usually this can be attributed to underestimating the scope of the project, or hitting some other sort of speed bumps -- missing a tool, stripping a screw, assembling components in the wrong direction, etc. -- along the way.

    That's why we are excited to use our 24-plus years of experience manufacturing, assembling and installing swing sets to offer some advice. Here are nine tips to help you build your family's wood playset with as few hiccups as possible!

    1. Read through product specs, features and assembly instructions, thoroughly and carefully, paying attention to any notices about the type of lumber needed for the product and the list of items included with the product. When you receive the product, lay out the pieces and compare them to the list of parts. This will save you from starting the project and then having to pause after realizing that you need a different type of lumber (for example, Eastern Jungle Gym swing sets are designed to fit kiln-dried wood) or are missing an important component (perhaps you would like to purchase stakes because the children using the set are a bit older), either because it was not part of the purchase or maybe because it was omitted in error.

    2. Pick the right location. This should be a fairly level area, away from concrete, asphalt and other hard surfaces. A rubber mulch play area is ideal. We also recommend keeping stationary components at least 6 feet from any obstructions (trees, fences, storage sheds, etc.).

    3. Give yourself enough time. We advise setting aside at least one full day for the construction of your wood playset, depending on the size of the unit, your experience with assembling wooden structures and so on. It is highly recommended that you have at least one adult there to lend assistance.

    4. Gather the required tools. For a traditional A-frame swing set, you'll need the following: 1/2" standard socket, 3/4" standard socket, standard socket wrench, electric drill, 1/4" pilot drill bit, tape measure, level, claw hammer, step ladder. Additional tools may be necessary depending on the wood playset model you have selected, but this information should be included in the instructions that come with the product.

    5. Begin the assembly on the ground. Your wood swing set will likely involve some sort of brackets. We recommend keeping these brackets on the ground as you slide in the lumber and secure the beam and posts.

    6. If you purchased a wood swing set kit, keep the boxes nearby. They could come in handy for keeping hardware organized, or for sliding the swing set into place (as this couple did in a time-lapse video showing the construction of our A-frame Cedar Bench Swing).

    7. Remember the basicsWear safety glasses; be sure to tighten and secure all lag bolts and nuts; pilot recessed holes as instructed to help maintain the integrity of the wood, etc.

    8. Keep in mind, checks (which are often mistakenly referred to as "cracks") and knot holes are normal characteristics of timbers. Do not worry if you come across these natural imperfections during setup. Checks are inevitable, as they result from the wood absorbing and releasing moisture. Typically, they do not impact the structure.

    9. Have fun! Remember, you're creating childhood memories by building your kids a beautiful backyard swing set. Make the memory a good one!

  • A Parent’s Perspective: Backyard Swing Set Benefits

    Here at Eastern Jungle Gym, we firmly believe that having a backyard swing set fosters increased physical fitness, problem-solving abilities and socialization skills, as well as improved independence. We also know that a backyard swing set is what many longtime memories are made of — hence, our slogan, “Creating Childhood Memories.” But we would be remiss if we did not mention the other family members it impacts, too: Parents.

    For moms and dads, there is a long list of milestones to look forward to between a child’s birth and his or her first birthday. Somewhere around seven, eight or nine months, the little one experiences the swing for the first time — a moment he or she will never remember, but one that mom and dad will never forget. I was so excited to put my child on the swing for the first time. Despite it being a gloomy February day, the temperature was warm enough to spend a little while outside, so away we went, snowsuit and all! It didn’t even matter that baby fell asleep after about five minutes in the swing. We had snapped a few photos and were already looking forward to next time.

    When you have a swing set right outside your back door, it is almost impossible to go even one day without using it, no matter the kids’ ages. This is why it makes sense to go with a backyard swing set that is large enough for the children to grow into. If you get something too small, they will outgrow it in no time, and you will be left making a second purchase. Your child may be too small for some of the activities initially, and that’s OK. Simply stick with the ones that are age-appropriate and work your way up. Besides, the sense of challenge that some of the activities provide will help your child develop confidence and new skills. And that means those memorable moments will keep coming as the little ones achieve more and more on their backyard swing set. Investing in a backyard swing set — whether a simple A-frame style or one with towers and multiple activities — is even becoming a popular choice for grandparents for these same reasons.

    Whether you are a mom, dad, grandparent, aunt or uncle, having playset at home is an investment in happiness. It allows the satisfaction and pride a parent feels so often during a child’s early years to be experienced by a number of other family members as they visit for get-togethers, parties and holidays. Having a backyard swing set allows mom, dad, child and others to enjoy an endless number of those special moments as the baby grows from infant to toddler and beyond.

  • The Childhood Benefits of a Backyard Playground

    For many children, a backyard playground or swing set is a dream come true. An outdoor playset gives them the opportunity to explore, learn and improve physical skills on a daily basis, without ever leaving home. As they learn and play, they are expending energy and making memories on the swings, slide, tire swing, rock-climbing wall and other activities.

    But the benefits of a backyard playground go beyond the happiness parents and family members see their kids experiencing on the swing set. Here is a list of the other childhood benefits, some known and others often overlooked, associated with owning a backyard playground:

    Helps Children Learn to Play with Others: One of the most important skills children will need during their school years -- and later on as an adult in the workplace -- is the ability to communicate and work with others. Swing sets and backyard playgrounds facilitate this because the little ones need to share and take turns when it comes to going down the slide, looking through the binoculars in the clubhouse, climbing up the ladder, and so on. By learning how to cooperate with their peers early on and simultaneously imagining and exploring together, the children are understanding and adopting important social norms.

    Helps Them Learn to Play Alone: Just as important as it is to learn to interact with others, learning to entertain oneself and be content alone is a wonderful skill for children to gain. Whether the little one is an only child or a young sibling whose brothers and sisters are much older, a swing set gives him or her many activities to keep busy. Displaying independence at such a young age is a good indication that the child may continue to nurture this skill as he or she grows.

    Helps Develop Muscles: Who doesn’t want their child to be strong and healthy? A swing set or backyard playground allows little ones to be just that. With more than 23 years in the business, we have seen a common scenario play out: a new wooden swing set is installed, and the parents of young children are quietly hesitant because of the size of the playset. By the end of the day, that hesitation is gone because they see how quickly their children pick up the new activities. As they master these challenges — swinging, climbing, hanging, pushing, etc. — they develop upper body strength, leg strength and more.

    Helps Develop Motor Skills: With all the activities the average backyard playground offers today, there are endless opportunities to work on grasping, hand/eye/foot coordination, balance, jumping ability, hanging strength, and more. We always recommending choosing a swing set that is large enough to grow with your family, so there are opportunities to develop different motor skills at different ages (think learning how to step as a young toddler to becoming an expert on the monkey bars just a few years later). Some of the abilities children develop on their swing set will help them grow into athletes, too.

    Encourages Physical Activity: With all of the devices available to little ones today, it's important to instill a love of movement and a love of the outdoors. There are enormous benefits to simply being outside (see this article and this article for specifics that range from the importance of Vitamin D to mental health improvements to advantages for vision and sight). A backyard playground will get the kids out of the house each day for years to come. What a wonderful way to get them to exercise without even really knowing it! The benefits of a swing set may be even greater if your child attends a school where recess has started to dwindle away in recent years.

    It’s important to remember that all of these benefits work alongside the number-one reward of having a backyard playground for the kids, which is the happiness they feel anytime they play on it. What sorts of positive effects has your home swing set had on your children? Tell us in the comments. And don’t forget to check out this blog, which discusses the impact swing sets have on self-esteem and problem-solving skills.

    Thanks for reading and happy playing!

  • Essential Activities All the Best Swing Sets Have

    As a mother, father or grandparent shopping for an outdoor playset for your little ones, there are many important safety considerations and material choices you’ll need to contemplate. But once you've decided on the basics, it's time to think about the fun!

    That means picking from lots of accessory and activity options. We're here to help you mull over the choices and give you some advice. With more than 22 years' experience in the industry, we've got a pretty good idea of the essentials that all the best swing sets have.

    First, here's a rundown of some common swing set activities and accessories:

    ·       Clubhouse and/or playhouse -- The clubhouse is the center of the swing set. It's where the kids play with toys (more on that later); use their imagination to take them out of the backyard and into the helm of a ship; or stay "safe" at home base during an intense game of Tag. If you really want to go all out, add a bottom playhouse for extra fun.

    ·       Rock climbing wall -- The best rock climbing walls challenge children and help them become stronger. That's why the rock wall should be a reasonable size. It should also allow for hand grips to be added or removed, so the wall can grow with the kids.

    ·       Slides -- Whether you go with a wave slide, a scoop slide or a spiral slide, a slide is a necessity. The best swing sets sometimes have more than one, with different styles, colors and sizes.

    ·       Swings -- No playset is complete without swings. And because soaring through the air on a swing is more fun with a friend, we recommend at least two or three swing positions. This is an enjoyment that even adults treasure, so make sure your backyard playground is strong enough to support all of your family members. And keep in mind that it's always better to have more swing positions than fewer, as you can switch out the classic sling swing for a baby swing, horse glider swing or gym ring trapeze bar combo, depending on who is playing on the set.

    ·       Tire swing -- Forget the idea that a tire swing has to hang from a tree. There's no reason your playset can't accommodate one (all of our Angled-Base swing sets do). Keep in mind that a good tire swing will use an actual tire. This means the surface will be soft rubber instead of hard plastic. And a three-chain suspension system means it can accommodate up to three kids.

    Outdoor playset with tire swing for best swing sets blog This wooden swing set features a tire swing, a horse glider swing, two sling swings, a slide, multiple ladders, a clubhouse with toys and a rock-climbing wall. It offers the kids so much to do!

    ·       Horse glider swing -- This swing allows two kids to sit back-to-back while they rock and glide. It is a favorite among young children.

    ·       Picnic table -- With a wooden picnic table built in to your playset, you really add to the investment. Now your swing set isn't just a place to play, it's a place to take a break and eat lunch, too!

    ·       Sandbox -- Whether you take the DIY route and add the sand yourself, or you purchase a sandbox with your swing set, a sandbox adds a little variation to the play area. Not only will the kids enjoy it, but mom and dad will appreciate how it keeps the little ones entertained for even longer.

    ·       Toys -- Steering wheels, ship's wheels, telephones, binoculars and telescopes. These are just a few of the toys all the best swing sets have. We say, the more the better! Don't be afraid of doubling up. There's no reason you can't have one telescope in the clubhouse and one on the post near the sandbox.

    ·       Ladders -- From step ladders to steel rung ladders to Jacob's ladders, kids love to climb. With a ladder and a rock wall, the children will have more than one way to access the clubhouse. And don't forget about overhead ladders (also known as monkey bars)!

    Now that you have a good understanding of all the options, it's time for us to give our recommendations.

    Eastern Jungle Gym's top five accessory and activity picks for the best swing sets are...

    (drum roll, please!)

    1)    Slides

    2)    Swings

    3)    Clubhouse and/or playhouse

    4)    Toys

    5)    Rock climbing wall

    Since nearly all of our swing sets include a slide, swings, a clubhouse with toys, and a rock climbing wall, these choices probably won't come as much of a surprise. Our longtime experience in this business has told us that this is the right formula for a swing set the kids will love for years and years. Just look for these essentials and you can't go wrong, especially if you add in a bonus activity or two.

  • Building a Wooden Playset with the Whole Family

    When was the last time you and the kids bonded over a family project? Enjoying laughs, working through challenges and finally accomplishing your goal with your son or daughter leaves you with memories that will last a lifetime. And, depending on the project, you'll likely have a finished product that will yield even more fun times for years to come.

    That's certainly the case when it comes to building a wooden playset for the backyard. Depending on the model you've selected (and its complexity), getting the kids involved may seem a bit challenging. But not to worry -- there are plenty of ways to get the little ones to help out safely. Here are a few suggestions:

    • Safety first -- Teach your children how to make sure all safety precautions are taken before embarking on a construction project. This means having the proper equipment (safety goggles, gloves and sneakers, or another type of closed-toe shoe) and the appropriate work space; making sure any lumber you've picked up at the local hardware store is sanded and free of splinters; etc. Communicate all of this to your kids during a "safety talk" before you get started on the wooden playset. Be sure to mention that power tools can be dangerous, so it's important they stay away from these items unless otherwise instructed.
    Little girl using drill on swing set bracket Whether it's cleaning up, learning about safety precautions, organizing hardware or learning how to use the drill (with adult supervision, of course), the kids will have a blast helping to build a wooden playset for the backyard.
    • Have the kids organize the hardware -- Before getting started, gather all of the hardware you'll need and ask your children to sort through it. Have them place all the bolts in one pile, the washers in another, the caps in another and so on. Then, once you start assembling, your kids can have them ready at your request. This activity will help them learn all about the different parts of the swing set, and they'll get an up-close look at the construction as mom or dad's assistant.
    • Let them try their hand at assembling -- Since you will be supervising the activity, there's no harm in allowing your child to try using the drill, provided he or she is the appropriate age and you have modeled the correct usage several times. Just guide the youngster along and you should have no problem.
    • Have them take care of the finishing touches -- Whether it's helping them up the ladder to hang the swing or handing them a rake to smooth the rubber playground mulch around the set, the kids will love the privilege of being responsible for the finishing touches.
    • Clean up -- There's nothing children love more than a game, so factor in the spirit of competition and see who can clean up the most! Instruct the kids to gather up any boxes, and make sure all the pieces of hardware are picked up and placed in their respective bags.
    • Test out the product -- It's the moment they've been waiting for! Once the wooden playset is assembled and cleanup is finished, it's time for the kids to try out their new swing set! We recommend having a camera on hand so you can capture the excitement as they hop on the swings and swoosh down the slide for the very first time!

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