Archive for August, 2012

How Safe is Your Local Playground?

August 31st, 2012 by

How safe is your local playground?The public playground can be a great place to let your children unwind and play with other kids in the neighborhood, but it can also be rife with hidden dangers. The federal government recommends certain criteria for public playgrounds to follow in order to be as safe as possible. Read on for some of these safety precautions to see if your local playground is safe or potentially hazardous.

Soft surfaces

Most injuries that children will get at the playground involve falling, so it’s important that your kids are playing on the right surfaces. Hard surfaces like concrete, blacktop, packed ground or grass will not protect your child in the event of a fall. Look for play equipment surrounded by deep footing—at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand, or pea gravel are recommended, unless the playground uses safety-tested mats. This surfacing should extend 6 feet from all play equipment. Around swings, the distance should increase to twice the height of the swings.

Proper maintenance

Be sure to check your playground equipment for proper upkeep. Watch for protruding bolts, open “S” hooks, and other dangerous hardware. All equipment should be sturdy and firmly bolted down. If it seems like no one has been looking after your local playground, it’s possible that there are hidden safety issues with the equipment.

Age appropriate activities

Playgrounds draw groups of kids of very different ages, and as you know, your toddler has much different playing needs than your nine year old. A great playground will have diverse set of activities for all age groups, but barring that, you should make sure that your children are not faced with playsets that are unsafe for their age group.


All raised platforms on playsets should have guardrails to prevent falls. It’s recommended that for pre-school age children, any platforms more than 20 inches off the ground should have guardrails. For school age children, any platform 30 inches or higher should have guardrails.

Recommended play equipment

There are a few types of equipment that frequently cause accidents and therefore aren’t recommended for public playgrounds. These include: Heavy swings like those made to look like animals, glider swings, and ropes that can fray or make a loop should be avoided—all ropes should be anchored to the ground to avoid children getting caught. Lastly, hanging rings and trapeze bars are not recommended as they are technically athletic equipment and thus pose more risk to your child’s play.

One way to control for these factors is to bring the playground to your backyard with a playset from Play N Learn’s Playground Superstore! You’ll be able to ensure that your child is as safe as possible while playing on a fun and interesting playset, like our Woodplay and Play N’ Learn Play Systems.

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Healthy and Productive Rainy Day Activities for Kids

August 23rd, 2012 by

Play inside at select Play N' Learn locations!Just because the weather is bad doesn’t mean you need to resign yourself to letting your children just watch TV all day. There are other productive, creative activities that they can take part in that will keep them plenty occupied and content until the weather clears up.

They can draw and write. One activity that has fallen by the wayside since prepackaged entertainment became widespread is the practice of telling ones’ own stories. This is an important skill to have, and teaching your children early to be able to formulate narratives and ideas on their own will leave them much better-suited to eventually practicing excellent reading comprehension and understanding of events from history. Plus, who knows: maybe you’ll start them off toward being the next famous novelist!

They can play board games. Board games leave more room for creativity and exploration than more static forms of entertainment; you get that experience of moving through space and time and dealing with what happens to you, just like in real-life. And with the many available types and ranges of board games, there’s never a shortage of styles and methods to play, depending on the mood and interests of your children.

They can play imaginary games. Like drawing and writing, creating imaginary structures within which to play helps a child exercise his or her mind and sense of how to interact with the world. Designing rules and characters to occupy lets them determine how to interact with the world and ways to deal with problems that arise, because it’s all up to the child to solve – they can’t just lean on the societally established norms that they might otherwise be able to depend on in other aspects of life, and that’s a healthy change of pace.

They can read or listen. This may sound like an obvious one, but there are still obvious benefits to taking in stories either through reading or listening over watching a movie or TV. Both allow for the child fill in more of the gaps in the story with his or her own mind and then understand how a story is told. Listening to stories in particular has become a lost practice but can still be very fun and exciting, particularly with the atmosphere of a rainy day.

They can play inside at select Play N’ Learn locations. Just because it’s messy outside doesn’t mean your child can’t get exercise and activity all the same! Enjoy Pay-for-Play at our Columbia location, or sign up for Free Play Days at our Chantilly, VA location. Waiting for you is a full showroom and play area protected from the elements. And who knows: maybe your child will find something he or she likes so much that you’ll have a new way to entertain them at home as well!

Most parents dread the constant patter of a child saying, “I’m bored.” But as long as you outline plenty of ways to have fun early on, even if it’s rainy out, you’ll have to deal with that sort of complaint far, far less.