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  • Swings for Your Backyard Swing Set

    Whether you’re dreaming up a terrific DIY swing set to build for the little ones or you’re simply looking to surprise the kids with a new accessory for their jungle gym, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different swings and accessories available. We have outlined the details of the different types of swings you can add to your swing set.

    High Back Full Bucket Swing 

    The high back full bucket swing is your child’s first swing. Designed to securely and safely hold an infant, this swing encloses the child 360-degrees and provides plenty of back support. You will get many years out of this swing, as it is suitable for infants and toddlers. We recommend children from 6 months to about 4 years old use this swing, depending on the size of the child.

    High Back Half Bucket Swing with Chain

    The half bucket swing with chain is a great transitional swing for your kids. It offers the same support of the full bucket swing in terms of a high back, but this time with a safety chain in front. This safety chain helps children get the feel of a real swing, while providing an added safety precaution. The recommended age range for this swing is about 2 to 6 years old.

    Sling Swing 

    The classic sling swing is what you and the kids see most often on your trips to the public park. A sturdy, high quality sling swing can support children and even most adults.

    Horse Glider Swing

    Unlike the swings described so far, which accommodate a single child at a time, the horse glider swing is designed for two. The kids sit back-to-back on the seat. There are handle bars for holding on and spaces for the children to place their feet. The kids love that the horse glider allows them to rock back and forth with a friend. With this swing, we suggest children be no younger than 2 years of age. The weight limit is typically about 200 pounds.

    Tire Swing

    The tire swing is always a hit with the kids. It can accommodate anywhere from one to three children, and is usually made with a rubber tire that has three or four chains attached. The tire swing will allow the children to swing around 360-degrees, so it requires a bit more space than any of the other swings listed here. The tire swing is a great activity for kids ages 2 and up.

    Three chain tire swing A three-chain tire swing makes a great addition to any backyard playground.

    Gym Ring/Trapeze Bar Combination Swing

    The gym ring/trapeze bar combo allows a child to swing and hang, and maybe even flip or perform a chin up. It’s constructed of a trapeze bar—ideally made of steel and coated in a soft plastic—with a grab handle on each side. The grab handles and the bar are attached to chains, which attach to a swing beam. Kids who use this swing can be anywhere from 3 years of age to 15.

    Swing Safety, Information, and DIY Details

    For maximum safety, we recommend that all plastic swings be made of a durable polymer plastic. All swings should include triangle hardware and S-hooks that attach to the seats. To ensure the safety of your little ones, we recommend heavy duty straight-coil chains with a soft coating (we always prefer you to use chains over rope). Look for swing chains that are coated in plastisol for a soft grip which will protect tiny fingers from getting pinched. These little extras can add up, but quality accessories are worth the investment.

    Don’t forget to take additional hardware into account. The first three swings mentioned in this piece would attach to a swing beam with ductile swing hangers and mountain clips. Whereas the tire swing uses a special swivel and the horse glider uses specific brackets. More often than not this type of hardware is not included with the swing. That will add to the price of the swing. The cost of the swings described here typically range from about $35 to about $120.

    No matter what type of swings you have in mind for your backyard play set, it is always a good idea to do your homework. Do consider what the product is made of, as it should be rust resistant and UV-protected. Also read up on reviews left by other customers. Remember, not all swings are made equal. Pay close attention to what type of chains or rope are used, how long they are, and how they are connected.

    Lastly, keep in mind that the ages we have listed here serve as a general guide. Some form of adult supervision is always recommended. If you are looking for more information on swings, watch our video to learn about the three swings for a wooden swing set.

  • Outdoor Activities to Keep Kids Moving

    5 Outdoor Activities to Keep Your Kids Moving This Fall

    As we reluctantly say goodbye to summer and welcome fall, many parents find it challenging to come up with new outdoor activities for the kids. Often times, children simply want to collapse on the couch after school and watch cartoons or play on their preferred device. Or, maybe they spend time on the computer for homework. Either way, the last thing your little ones should be doing is remaining stationary! Fall is a wonderful time of year to spend time outside. The days are still warm, and the air is crisp. Here are some ways to get your kids moving this fall.

    Implementing a New Routine

    The first step to get your kids outside and moving is to start a new routine. For most children, the precious free time after school is spent completing homework, snacking, and relaxing.  With a busy schedule it may seem difficult to fit physical activity into your routine. However, establishing an outside routine is easier than you may think!

    We recommend adding outside playtime into your child’s schedule as soon as they arrive home from school. This helps the kids to relax and decompress after a busy day. It also provides an opportunity for exercise. Think you'll be met with resistance? Not to worry! We've come up with five exciting outdoor activities for kids to participate in. Rotate through these all year long and your kids will become outside enthusiasts! Not only will they burn off energy, but they will also become experts at entertaining themselves!

    Finding the Right Outdoor Activities for the Kids

    Suggest these playful activities that provide an opportunity for spending time with friends and getting moving:

    1. Playing on a Swing Set: Most backyard swing sets provide many activities all in one. In any one of our cedar playsets, the kids choose from climbing the rock wall, using the swings, zipping down the slide and much more. While A-frame swing sets are smaller, they also allow for a few children to play at once. Having a swing set at your home provides children with the opportunity to perfect their athletic skills. It also gives them a chance use their imaginations. Children simply love to pretend the jungle gym and backyard is a pirate ship at sea, or a castle with a moat.
    2. Playing a Game of Baseball or Soccer: After school can also be a great time for the kids to engage in sports. Suggest a tossing around the baseball, shooting hoops or kicking the soccer ball. If they play on a local sports team, this is a great way to make sure they get practice both on and off the field. Don't forget about jumping rope and rollerskating, too!
    3. Helping the Family with Chores: If your kids are in the routine of weekly chores and allowance, add a few outdoor jobs to their responsibilities. Chores can include things such weeding and raking leaves. The kids can also as water the flowers as needed. They can even get a head start on the upcoming season and organize winter materials such as shovels and holiday decorations with adult assistance.
    4. Playing a Game of Tag: When all else fails, kids always enjoy a good old-fashioned game of tag! While the kids take turns being "It" (they can always use Rock-Paper-Scissors to select the first person), they're running wild hiding and ducking their opponents. They are also actively problem solving and relying on their creativity to avoid being tagged. If your children are tired of playing tag you can suggest other traditional games like Freeze Tag, Mother May I, and Simon Says.
    5. Exploring the Outdoors: Encourage the kids to explore the yard and neighborhood on foot or by bicycle. Ask them about their time exploring and what types of wildlife surprises they encountered!

    Making playtime seem like a fun activity is a great way to encourage kids to spend time outside and get physical activity during this season!

  • 5 Ideas for Father's Day

    Father's Day (Sunday, June 15) is just a few days away, but there is still plenty of time to snag dear old dad a great gift! Here are a few ideas worth considering:

    • A new storage shed: If dad spends a lot of his free time sprucing up the property by gardening, mowing and taking care of odd jobs, he would definitely benefit from a new storage shed. Keep in mind his tastes when you select colors and style. If you want to go the extra mile, start moving all of his supplies in there and get organizing! Imagine how surprised he would be to wake up to a new building that makes it easier to get all of his chores done.

     

    • An outdoor kitchen: Outdoor kitchens are all the rage this year, especially among those who enjoy cooking. If dad loves being behind the barbecue, upgrade his working space! Consider a new grill cart if his is starting to show signs of age, or go with an outdoor kitchen island that's stocked with a refrigerator and finished with a handsome tile surface. Truly an extension of the living space, the outdoor kitchen is guaranteed to be enjoyed by the whole family. And don't forget that grill accessories--from a spatula and tongs to a pizza stone) are always fun gifts.

     

    • Exercise equipment: There is no shortage of gift possibilities for a dad who loves being active. If he is into sports, think about getting him something that will enhance his enjoyment, maybe a basketball hoop, a punching bag, or even a new baseball glove. Another idea is a calorie counter or fitness gadget, like the FitBit or the BodyBugg.

     

    • A gift card: Maybe you've given an unsuccessful gift or two over the years, and now you are thinking something simple would be best. If this is the case, try a gift card to one of Dad's favorite stores so he can pick out exactly what suits him.

     

    • Something from the heart: We saved the best for last. Nothing says "Thanks for being a great dad" like a handmade gift (or meal!). No matter your age, this photo-heavy piece is a great craft that dad could keep on his desk for years to come. You can find tons of other craft ideas on sites like Pinterest. Just be sure to start thinking about your project sooner than later, as certain DIY creations can take some time.
  • Five Ways to Commemorate Memorial Day with Kids

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    The three-day weekend is here, and for many people, that means the start of summer -- complete with barbecues and visits to the beach. With all the fun and excitement that Memorial Day Weekend brings, it is important to look past the sales and celebrations and keep in mind the meaning of this American holiday. If you are looking for a way to commemorate the day with the kids, here are some ideas you may want to try:

    Share the facts: Many youngsters may not be aware of the significance of Memorial Day. Explain the facts--that it is a federal holiday, so banks, government offices and schools are closed; that it is celebrated on the last Monday in May; that it was initially established to honor those who passed during the Civil War; and so on. You could even pick a few wars and give the kids a mini history lesson (if it's a rainy day, think about incorporating an age-appropriate film that deals with a major battle in American history). Check out this CNN article for more information that could be relevant to the conversation.

    Attend a parade: Get out the red, white and blue and take the kids to the town parade for some community fun. There will be plenty of veterans there, so this could be a great time to encourage the kids to show their appreciation. Don't forget to pick up a few small American flags to wave!

    Visit a local monument or cemetery: Find a war memorial in the area and take the youngsters to see it. Read up beforehand and come up with a suitable way to explain the significance of the conflict. You can even talk to the kids about some of the more famous monuments found in Washington DC and other parts of our country by pulling up images online (visit a site like this one for more information). If you are having difficulty finding a monument or memorial, you have another option. Some local organizations place flags on the gravestones of veterans each year around this time. Ask around and see if this is the case in your neighborhood. If so, this could be a meaningful trip for the kids. It could also be the start of an important tradition for your family.

    Reach out to an active military member: Sit down with your son or daughter and go through an organization such as AnySoldier.com to send a care package to a member of our armed forces.  Another great organization is Adopt a US Soldier. Guide your child through crafting a letter that shows support and warmth.

    Enjoy the day: After you have spent some time talking about Memorial Day and what it means, continue the quality time with a meal. Incorporate a summertime dessert (here are some patriotic recipes to try!) and some time outdoors, with the kids on the swing set or the family taking a bike ride.

  • Five Ways to Make Mom Feel Special on Mother's Day

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    Mother's Day (May 11, 2014)  is almost here -- just over a week away! Dads, look no further if you're searching for ways to help the kids make mom feel extra special on this very important day. Here are a few suggestions:

    • Serve mom breakfast in bed: This may sound like a no-brainer, but it does take some preparation. Sit down with the kids the night before, come up with a menu and assign jobs; perhaps the youngest gets the place setting and serving tray ready, the middle child cuts the fruit, the oldest pours the coffee and dad scrambles the eggs. Be sure to set an alarm and wake up the kids way before mom opens her eyes so you have time to cook and serve the meal. And if you're feeling extra ambitious, consider whipping up a Mother's Day cake for later in the day!

     

    • Have the kids make Mother's Day gifts: There's nothing a mother treasures more than a handmade gift, and lucky for you, there are plenty of fun arts and crafts projects to choose from. Whether it's a simple Mother's Day card made from construction paper, a finger-painting, sand art, a Mother's Day poem or something else entirely, mom will love it. Let the kids be creative and come up with their own masterpiece, or do a simple Google search for Mother's Day crafts. And don't forget to take photos so mom can see what the process was like!

     

    • Spend some time outdoors: Plan a hike, a bike ride or even just a walk around town and enjoy the (hopefully) pleasant weather. If you don't feel like leaving home, sit outside and relax while the kids burn off some energy on the swing set or the trampoline.

     

    • Clean, brighten up the house: If mom is the one who usually takes care of the laundry, the dishes, the vacuuming and other household cleaning, do it for her and give her a break on Mother's Day! Don't forget to leave some fresh flowers, either on the table, in a vase in the living room, or even outside, in the window boxes of the house or the storage shed.

     

    • Pamper mom: If you've used some of these ideas in previous years, a gift certificate to mom's favorite store, restaurant or nail salon will always do the trick!
  • Ten Tips to Make Sure Your Wooden Swing Set is Safe

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    Swing sets add so much to a child's life. They allow for activity and exercise; they promote socialization by allowing many youngsters to play at once, cooperating and problem-solving together; and they give kids something to look forward to outdoors.

    For parents, swing sets keep the kids busy, freeing up the afternoons for chores--or even better, some relaxation. What's more relaxing than knowing your kids are having fun playing on a swing set in your backyard? Knowing the kids are having fun playing on a safe swing set. Below is a list of things to keep in mind if you are looking for a strong, durable wooden swing set.

    1. Protective Surfacing: A safe swing set needs a safe surfacing, such as rubber mulch, to lay beneath and around the equipment. Grass and turf are not options, as they do not have the ability to absorb shock, according to The US Consumer Product Safety Commission. A swing set should never be built on asphalt or concreteThe experts at Best in Backyards recommend at least three inches of rubber mulch on your playground surface. Click here to read the CPCS's guidelines on other materials, such as bark mulch, wood chips, fine sane and fine gravel.

    2. The Six Feet Rule: There should be at least six feet of unobstructed space surrounding the swing set in all areas. This is called the use zone, and, to prevent interference, it should be clear of any fencing, rock walls, trees, shrubs or other equipment.

    3. Level Area: When placing your cedar swing set, be sure the area is level. This will maximize the swing set's activities and surfacing materials.

    4. Recessed Hardware: All hardware should be countersunk so the bolt caps sit inside the wood, rather than on top. This method means loose clothing is less likely to catch. Plastic caps are not recommended as they can fall off or break over time.

    5. Edges and Sanding: All of the wood parts should be sanded smooth. The edges and corners should be rounded, too. This helps to prevent splintering, and it helps the kids avoid minor abrasions.

    6. Coatings: Ropes and chains are safer when they are coated in some sort of soft material. For example, swing chains should be heated, primed and plastisol-coated for a safe, smooth grip and no pinching.

    7. Stain or Sealer: To maintain the wood's natural beauty and prevent checking, cracking or splintering, an application of clear wood sealer or semi-transparent stain should be applied on an annual basis.

    8. Maintenance: Check all hardware annually.

    9. Upkeep: Replace accessories and tent tops if necessary.

    10. Replenish: If you have wood mulch make sure you refill it regularly as it will compact and deteriorate over the years. Sand or other loose fill should be raked and "fluffed" up.

  • Swing Set Safety #2

    Swing Set Safety #2

    When it comes to your children’s happiness, you’re the pro. You know what makes them giggle with glee, or pout in misery. You are also the one that knows what puts an automatic smile on their face any time you suggest it—their swing set! However, there’s no worst rude awakening than when your child is swinging on their swing set one minute, and wincing out in pain the next. Keep them safe, happy and loving every second they spend swinging and sliding by applying the following rules. Then, everyone in your family can rest assured, stay safe and sound.

    Teach Your Children the Right Way to Swing

    It’s easy to get so distracted by your children’s excitementover their brand new swing set,  that you forget about the most important thing—their safety. Whether your kids are playing at an indoor play area, or your very own backyard, safety comes first each and every time. Surprising your children with a new swing set, such as the Supremescape Swing set from Eastern Jungle Gym is an exhilarating moment for any family, but remember: safety first!

    Acclimate your children to the “Do” and “Don’t” rules of their swing set. Spend a few moments teaching them about the right way to swing (facing forward with both hands on the chains, etc.) as opposed to the “wrong” way (jumping off in mid-air, etc.)

    Make Swinging a Fun Family Affair

    When it comes to children, accidents can and do happen. It’s inevitable—a trip on the slippery floor here, or a bump on their head, there. So, when it comes to swing set safety, the number rule you should always commit to is supervision at all times. Even with safe, top of the line equipment that you’ll find on all Best in Backyards swing sets, they can’t protect you from a slip, misstep or fall, all of which can be prevented with consistent supervision.

    Make their ‘swing time’ a family affair! Sure, it’s just your backyard, but treat it like you’re going to park and have hours of fun. Pack their favorite snacks and juice. Watch their faces light up as you applaud them as they slide down, racing their sibling to the finish line!

    Check all Swings, Chains and Bolts for Tightness

    Over time, some swing set hardware can loosen. And, when wet, it can become slippery, causing young ones to injure themselves easily. It’s important before every play session, that you survey your swing set for any signs of safety risk. Wipe down slippery surfaces, such as on the slide, swing and ladders. Once a month, search for visible signs of loosening. Then, look down! The most common area for children to injure themselves is because of slippery surfaces. There’s no time like the present—order our rubber mulch (the safest surfacing around!)—for an eco-friendly, smart choice. Available in a variety of colors, they go perfectly with your backyard equipment! Then sit back and relax. You’ve done your part to keep everyone in your family happy and out of harm’s way.

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