About Buddy Humphreys

Buddy Humphreys is Customer Service and Operations Manager at Play N' Learn's Playground Superstores. He's been with Play N' Learn for 7 years and in his free time spends time with his family, including 2 children.

How to Choose the Right Play Set for Your Yard

March 15th, 2016 by

How to Choose the Right Play Set for Your YardGetting a new play set or upgrading your existing play structure can feel daunting. From the variations of slides and swings to features like forts, climbing walls, monkey bars, and even chalk boards, the options are endless — and the decision isn’t something to take lightly, given that most play sets are a family’s hub of fun and activity for years on end. Where do you begin? What can help you find the right fit?

Below, we guide you through the process.

How do I get started?
Browsing play sets and accessories online is a great way to get initial ideas, but meeting with a play set specialist and seeing the options in person is always best. After all, you can compare the different sizes and add-on options, and a knowledgeable sales associate can chat with you about your needs and make recommendations based on the ages of your kids and the size of your yard. If you visit one of our showrooms, your kids can try out some of our play sets firsthand — and you’ll be able to see what excites them.

What if I have a play set I need to get removed first?
If you’re buying a play set from Play N’ Learn, we can remove your existing structure for a small fee. That way, your play set experience can be streamlined — and you won’t need to make arrangements with multiple companies. We’ll handle it all for you.

Can I still get a play set if my yard isn’t level or my yard isn’t big enough?
A short answer to this question is — absolutely! But it’s a question many families ask when they walk in our showrooms. Remember: the way we display play sets in the showroom isn’t at all how they have to look in your yard. The displays are there to give you ideas and let kids try out the options. If your yard isn’t perfectly flat, we can adjust the legs or add a different length slide. And if your dream play set won’t fit the current dimensions of your yard, we can shorten the swing beams or reconfigure slides and ladders to work around your space limitations. Plenty of options exist for uneven, awkwardly shaped, and even really small yards. So don’t let any of these stop you.

What if my HOA declines me?
In most cases, since our play sets are not fixed permanently to the ground, and since they come in neutral colors, they’re usually not declined by HOAs. If you’re awaiting HOA approval, we can stagger installation so that you can get the full go-ahead from the time you purchase to the day we install the swing set. And if you get declined, your purchase is fully refundable.

Can I add on more features later?
If you want to start with a smaller set and build out as your kids get older, that’s completely fine. Our swing sets are made so that you can add features like monkey bars, fire poles, tire swings, and other great accessories that can vary the play experience year after year. For instance, you might start with features like the captain’s wheel or telescopes for young kids who like to play imaginary games, and later decide to add accessories like a rock climbing wall for older kids who like a challenge or a hammock swing for those who like to relax and read. In this way, your play set investment keeps going.

At Play N’ Learn, we provide a full range of play equipment and specialize in helping families make choices that can grow alongside their kids and create lasting memories. Stop by one of our showrooms, and we’ll point you in the right direction.

4 Tips to Help Kids Get Daily Exercise

March 3rd, 2016 by

4 Tips to Help Kids Get Daily ExerciseWith school back in session, you’ve likely noticed that homework and extracurricular activities are now taking over the bulk of your child’s after-school hours. These afternoon and evening commitments make for a busy family life — and leave little room for the 60 minutes of daily exercise recommended for kids by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Why is daily exercise so critical? Exercise can lower risk factors for health issues like diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease, as well as obesity. Plus, it can reduce stress and help kids feel better about themselves. Instilling healthy exercise and play habits in childhood increases the likelihood of your child having a positive attitude about being active as an adult. But how can you make it happen, with so many other priorities on your family’s plate?

Chunk it up
Instead of tackling the entire 60 minutes at once, break it up into manageable portions that work with your other commitments. Have time to kill between after-school activities? Swing by the playground, take a walk around the block, or play a quick game of tag. Find other opportunities for active play throughout the day — before breakfast, while you’re waiting for the school bus, or after dinner — and 60 minutes will feel far less intimidating.

Forgo the car or bus
Instead of taking the car or bus to your destination, swap in bikes, scooters, or your own two feet to travel from point A to B. Kids love the adventure and benefit from the fresh air. And as an added bonus, you’ll get some exercise and fresh air, too.

Take homework breaks
Most kids have homework every night of the week, and the older they get, the longer those homework hours become. That’s why it’s so important to take active breaks during study sessions. Try a round of jumping jacks, push-ups, jogging in place, or hula-hooping. These activities won’t just help reach the 60-minute exercise goal — studies have shown that intervals of exercise are like fuel for the brain, helping kids focus and learn better.

Make play convenient
Busy families are short on time, and convenience matters. One of the most convenient places for active play, of course, is in and around your own home. But how can you make it fun and enticing for your kids? You have options:

• Put on some music and clear out a space in your house for dancing.
• Set up an obstacle course in your yard.
• Add some outdoor play equipment, such as a play set, soccer goal, basketball hoop, or trampoline.

With play sets, for instance, you can swap out or add accessories as your kids get older. Tire swings, fire poles, trapeze bars, rock climbing walls — a number of options can keep your kids engaged in active fun for years on end. Similarly, an adjustable basketball hoop in the driveway can grow with your kids — and offer a chance for the whole family to get in on the action.

Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore or something that you need huge blocks of time to accomplish — use what you’ve got to make it fun, and consider adding play equipment to your house and yard for added convenience. Ready to get started? Drop by one of our showrooms and explore ideas with a play specialist.

Cabin Fever Cure-alls: Ideas for Winter Break Fun

December 17th, 2015 by

Cabin Fever Cure-alls: Ideas for Winter Break FunIf you don’t have travel plans on the books for winter break, you may find the kids getting stir crazy. Once the holidays are over and the constant hum of activity and visits from relatives die down, your kids may not know what to do with themselves, especially with cold weather keeping them indoors. While it may seem difficult to come up with options entertaining enough to catch your kids’ attention, winter break is a great time to think outside the box and try some new activities.

After all, being out of school and off work is a great excuse to do activities you wouldn’t normally be able to. Now’s an opportune time to take advantage of all the fun indoor places to play that you may never have visited before, or that your kids have already come to love. Here are a few ideas for how to keep winter break fun and active.

Take a spin on the ice
To get your dose of winter fun, head to the ice skating rink with your kids and their friends for a few hours of free skate. Ice skating helps with balance and coordination and is great exercise…but your kids won’t realize it’s anything but good old fashioned fun. Top it off with some hot chocolate afterwards and you’ve had yourself an exciting day.

Try out an indoor trampoline center
For some higher energy fun, check out a trampoline center near you where you and your kids can go for an open play session, or you can invite friends for a special post-holiday jumping party. Jumping on trampolines is a great way to exercise for both kids and adults, so join in the fun! If your kid has already been to an indoor trampoline center, mix it up by going to a special class or dodge ball game.

Head to an interactive science museum
While some kids may balk at the idea of going to a museum when they’re supposed to be out of school, odds are good that your city has a science museum that isn’t just about displays and facts. If you visit a science museum that has interactive displays and experiential learning exhibits, you’re in for a fun day of hands-on learning and activity that the kids will be talking about for days to come. Plus, when you go to a museum with the family, there are no packets to do or quizzes at the end — it’s all about just running around and having fun . . . and learning something, too!

Blow off some steam with laser tag
Laser tag is tried and true — it keeps your kids moving, it keeps their minds active as they make up strategy, it encourages teamwork, and you can play as many or as few rounds as you’d like. Plus, you can show up with a huge group or just a few people and you’ll be paired with other kids. It’s the perfect outing for a day when you realize you have a few hours to fill and you want to spend them doing something fun that also gets the heart rate up.

Come visit a Play N’ Learn showroom
We get it: Your play set is probably going unused right now because of the cold temperatures. But if your kids still want to enjoy playing on a play set and the added fun of trying out features that your set doesn’t have (plus basketball, trampolines, and more), come visit us at a Play N’ Learn showroom for one of our open play sessions so they can try everything out.

We hope you and your family have a happy holiday season and enjoy the opportunity to play!

Gobble, Gobble! Thanksgiving Crafts Perfect for Kids

November 23rd, 2015 by

Gobble, Gobble! Thanksgiving Crafts Perfect for KidsThanksgiving usually means traveling or a house packed with relatives. Kids can get stir crazy while the adults are busy socializing and cooking. With a few simple craft ideas to break out, it’s a lot easier to keep your kids occupied without too much legwork while you’re trying to entertain and prepare a meal. Here are a few quick and easy crafts for your kids to try at Thanksgiving that will keep them entertained and give them a chance to unleash their inner artist.

Leaf collages and wreaths
Leaf collages and wreaths not only let your kids get creative, but they also get your kids moving — a difficult feat in the colder weather, but still just as important. They’ll have to bundle up and go outside to scavenge for the best leaves in the yard — or have a relative take them for an outing to the park while you enjoy some quiet time at the house. Once they have all their leaves, your kids can use scissors, glue, and construction paper to make their own leaf collage. Or, they can use their creativity and whatever craft supplies you have on hand to make decorative garlands or leaf mobiles — perfect for celebrating the season.

Turkey hand drawings
This old classic never fails — the turkey hand drawing is easy and fun for all ages. All you need is construction paper and markers or crayons and you’re ready to go. Your kids can try to trace their own hands or take turns tracing others’ hands to make a turkey family. Color the turkeys in with markers as traditional turkeys or as funky ones with fun designs and patterns, or use your craft supplies to make glitter turkeys, give them googly eyes, or glue on pipe cleaner outlines.

Pinecone turkeys
Here’s another craft that will keep your kids active while they create: pinecone turkeys. The essentials are a pinecone and some feathers cut out of construction paper. You can use clay to make the turkey steady on the table, and then your kids can glue their feathers to the back of the pinecone, use an acorn for the face, and googly eyes. Once they’re done, these outdoorsy turkeys make for fun table decorations when dinner’s ready.

Art tablecloths
Instead of putting down a nice fabric tablecloth on your dining room table, cover it with parchment paper or a paper tablecloth a few hours before dinner and have your kids go wild decorating it with crayons and markers. They’ll be busy making sure the whole surface is covered and they can use their creativity to tell stories on the tablecloth. And your dinner guests will enjoy the details beneath their plates as well.

Take what some consider a stressful, hectic time and keep it the celebration of friends and family it’s meant to be by helping your kids stay occupied and engaged. After an active and creative day, everyone will be happy to sit down to a delicious meal together. And if you’re searching for even more ways to keep the kids entertained during Thanksgiving and beyond, head over to one of our Play N’ Learn showrooms to talk to one of our associates about swing sets, trampolines, basketball hoops, and more.

How Parents Can Help Make Playground Time Safer

October 23rd, 2015 by

How Parents Can Help Make Playground Time SaferWe all love to see our kids play and have fun, and we know that playing has benefits past putting a smile on little faces. Playing is good for coordination as well as muscle and emotional development, and can reduce stress. So here at Play N’ Learn, we take every opportunity there is to get out and play. But sometimes accidents do happen — it’s inevitable with the running, jumping, crawling, and more that comes with having a blast. Still, as parents, there are things you can do to make sure that your children enjoy playtime as safely as possible. Here are four easy ways to start.

1. Check playground equipment to make sure it’s received routine maintenance
Before setting your kids loose to have a good time, it’s a good idea to walk around your local playground to make sure everything looks and feels well maintained. There shouldn’t be loose or wobbly elements, and whatever protective flooring is in place shouldn’t be worn out. If any playground equipment seems to need a tune-up, especially as the seasons change, keep your kids (and their friends) off of it until repairs have been made.

2. Make sure your kids are playing on age-appropriate equipment
Another easy thing you can do to keep your kids safe at the playground is to make sure they are playing on age-appropriate equipment. For your children’s and others’ safety, they should stick to what has been deemed safe for their age group, no matter how alluring the equipment being used by older children may be. Many playgrounds have a variety of types of equipment available in the same location, including elements like low platforms and shorter slides for children under five, and swings and monkey bars for older children.

3. Leave your phone in your bag
We all get distracted by our devices, and when the kids are occupied, it may seem like a good time to get caught up on your emails, the news, or just get in a quick round of Candy Crush. But studies show that children are three times more likely to engage in risky behavior on the playground when their parents are distracted by electronic devices. Being able to stop those risky behaviors, like jumping off swings or using equipment outside of its intended use, before they turn into accidents requires your attention — and few distractions.

4. Keep your conversations in a place where you can still supervise
Electronics aren’t the only things that can pull your attention away from your kids when they’re in action at the playground. When all the parents are in one spot, it can be easy to get wrapped up in a conversation and not realize the kids have invented an innovative new game that might end in an accident. While the playground should be fun for parents, too, it’s important to keep an eye and ear on your kids at all times.

Getting your kids out to play should be a fun occasion, and keeping them safe doesn’t mean that your play time needs to be full of worry. Incorporating these few easy habits into your play routine can make it easy to keep your kids as safe as possible while taking those few inevitable bruises and scraped knees in stride. And if you’re ready to bring home the fun of an age-appropriate playground that can even grow with your kids, stop by a Play N’ Learn showroom. We can talk you through the process of adding play solutions to your yard that will be fun and safe for the whole family.

Bring the Fun of Summer Camp to Your Backyard

July 23rd, 2015 by

Bring the Fun of Summer Camp to Your BackyardDo your kids go to summer camp? Playing all day with friends, having adventures, and being outdoors make for an unforgettable summer. But guess what? Your kids can experience this kind of fun whether they go to camp or not! Here are some classic games and activities that let you bring the fun of summer camp into your own backyard.

Capture the Flag
Round up friends and neighbors for an easy game of Capture the Flag. The division between your front and back yard makes a good boundary for the two teams. All you need for a “flag” is a sock or handkerchief. You can play during the day or at dusk or dark, and any place in your yard is fair game for hiding the flag, whether it’s a tree, part of the house, or a good nook or hard-to-reach spot on your playset. Here’s an overview of the game’s rules.

Water Balloon Wars
Fill up a bunch of water balloons and split into two teams. Take turns aiming and firing at the other team — below the neck only! Anyone who gets hit has to sit down. After the first round, it’s a free-for-all, and the object is to get across the enemy line without getting hit. You can make this more challenging by extending the play area to include hills or obstacles.

Drip Drip Drop
A hot-weather variation on Duck Duck Goose, Drip Drip Drop uses the same rules of one person walking around the circle of players sitting on the ground. Instead of tapping the players on the head, the standing person drips water from a cup onto their heads. On “drop,” the rest of the cup is poured over the sitting player’s head, and the chase is on!

Nature Walks
Going on hikes and exploring the outdoors is a quintessential part of the camp experience that you can recreate in your backyard or neighborhood. Do some research about common flora and fauna in your area, and see how many different species you can identify. Have your kids sketch and record what they see in a journal.

Backyard Camping
Want to up the ante on your summer camp experience? Try making your backyard a campground, and plan activities like roasting marshmallows over a fire pit, telling campfire stories, and stargazing before your kids settle into sleeping bags and tents outside. You’ll have all the modern conveniences you need nearby, but your kids can still scratch their camping itch.

So if summer camp is not on the agenda this year, or if a week or two is just not enough for your kids, bring the camp experience to your own backyard. And if you’re looking for a permanent fun fixture, head over to one of our showrooms for built-in play for days to come.

Communities Band Together to Build Parks

June 25th, 2015 by

Communities Band Together to Build ParksOutdoor play is a crucial part of children’s development — it helps kids stay active and fit, builds their immune systems, and helps them develop creativity. For many kids, playing outdoors is only a matter of heading out into the yard or walking to the local playground or park. But what happens when your community doesn’t have readily available, safe spaces where kids can play?

In South Los Angeles, abandoned or vacant lots are abundant — there almost 3,000, compared to just 134 in West LA. At the same time, there are few or no parks within walking distance of many homes, making safe places to play hard to come by. Instead, kids frequently make the best of what’s available, which sometimes means playing in alleys or vacant lots with potential hazards.

So, community organizers came up with a solution: Why not make those vacant lots work for the community? By finding suitable plots and getting grants to buy land, organizers paired with The Trust for Public Land to convert a lot into what is now known as Serenity Park — an enclosed park where kids can play and adults can exercise on free equipment.

The Trust for Public Land works with community members to enable every resident to have a public park within a 10-minute walk from their homes. Why? Accessible and convenient outdoor play spaces help counteract inactivity, promote public health, and create a better sense of pride in the community. From helping combat issues like obesity to reducing “urban heat island” effects, parks benefit communities and the environment in many ways.

In South LA, Serenity Park is just the first of what will hopefully be many success stories. The non-profit organization Community Health Councils plans to continue acquiring underutilized land to convert to public parks as part of its ongoing goal to improve public health and make the community a great place to play and enjoy the outdoors.

While the process for procuring grant money, buying land, and constructing a park takes time, the positive impact on the community is immeasurable. Families welcome the new parks with open arms, knowing that the easily accessible, safe, and enticing spaces make it easier for their kids to experience the amazing benefits of play.

At Play N’ Learn, we support any opportunity like this to create fun, safe play spaces for kids, families, and adults. Kudos to this community!

To learn how to make your yard or community park a great place for people of all ages to stay active and play, contact us today or stop by one of our showrooms.

Health Benefits of Trampolines for Adults

May 22nd, 2015 by

Health Benefits of TrampolinesJumping on a trampoline is one activity that is guaranteed to help kids burn off steam — and can even make your child more fit in the process. But did you know the same perks hold true for adults? Jumping on the trampoline is a great workout and has a host of benefits, in addition to being a lot of fun for people of any age.

And the trampoline trend is catching on. Chances are, you’ve have noticed the wave of indoor trampoline parks popping up in towns big and small. Many offer aerobics classes and fitness-oriented programs for those looking to mix up their workouts. But the reality is, you can get the same health benefits by bouncing on the trampoline in your own backyard. Here are a few reasons to tell your kids it’s your turn to jump.

It makes your bones and muscles stronger.
Like any weight-bearing activity, jumping on a trampoline will help increase your bone strength. Good bone strength reduces the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. At the same time you’re building bone strength, you’ll also be building muscles — and not just your glutes and quads. Since you’ll be working hard to stabilize yourself with your core muscles, you’ll be strengthening your back and abs, too.

It takes stress off of your weight-bearing joints.
If you’re recovering from an injury or are new to exercise, jumping on a trampoline is a low-impact way to get started without putting a lot of stress on your body. If you’re a regular exerciser, a session on the trampoline can also be a great cross-training exercise for days that you want to take some stress off of your body while still getting a great workout.

It improves your overall health.
Just like other forms of aerobic exercise, once you’ve jumped enough to get your heart rate up, you’ll start to see cardiovascular benefits in addition to the muscle you’re building. The benefits don’t stop with cardiovascular health, though. Aerobic exercise works wonders for your whole body. It can help lower blood pressure, control blood sugar, improve blood flow, reduce bad cholesterol, and reduce your risk of other health conditions.

It’s fun and can make you feel happier.
How often do you have to drag yourself to the gym or force yourself to get through that morning run? Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Jumping on the trampoline can help you inject some fun back into your workout routine — because when you’re jumping, it doesn’t feel like you’re exercising. Even better, since you’re getting all the same benefits of a good workout, you’ll also be releasing those great endorphins that help improve mood, reduce stress, and promote relaxation.

Ready to start jumping? It’s hard to say no to a trampoline when it provides so much fun and fitness for your whole family. Stop by our showrooms to check out the trampolines Play N Learn has to offer, and we’ll help you get on your way to a guaranteed fun workout. And for more on how grownups can get in on the fun and fitness benefits of play, check out our post on “Playgrounds for Adults.”

Inclusive Playgrounds Benefit All

April 16th, 2015 by

Inclusive PlaygroundsPlaygrounds are not only a ton of fun but also a crucial place for kids to develop physical, cognitive, and social skills while they play. Unfortunately, most playgrounds (especially older models) aren’t designed to accommodate children with physical or cognitive disabilities. Today, more communities are banding together to build inclusive playgrounds that are accessible to all children, including those with special needs.

What are inclusive playgrounds?
Inclusive playgrounds are play areas that accommodate children with a broad range of physical and cognitive abilities. In 2010, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was updated to include playgrounds. Now, any newly constructed or renovated public playgrounds must be accessible to those with disabilities, to provide all children the same outdoor play opportunities.

Where can I find an inclusive playground?
Moving forward, more and more communities will have inclusive playgrounds due to the new ADA requirements. But inclusive playgrounds come with a bigger price tag than their counterparts, and local governments are having a hard time finding the budget to build them. So frequently, parents and advocates are the ones pushing for these playgrounds to be built, and they’re doing the legwork to secure financing, as well. But for families of children with disabilities, waiting for their towns to update playgrounds isn’t good enough — they want to see their kids partaking in and enjoying the same fun as their able-bodied friends.

What kinds of features does an inclusive playground have?
Inclusive playgrounds are some of the best playgrounds around. They have all of the fun features of regular playgrounds, but may also have ramps for children who need physical assistance from a wheelchair or otherwise. Also, instead of mulch, the rubberized surface on an inclusive playground is smooth so that wheels won’t get stuck. Instead of classic swings, the swings of an inclusive playground provide back support to help children with muscular development issues.

Those are just the physical elements — inclusive playgrounds also have play features that foster emotional and cognitive development. Sensory, cognitive, and social skills are all part of the package, so kids who come to play can be stimulated in ways that match their level and ability.

The next time you’re at your local playground, take a look around and ask yourself: can all kids play and have fun there? If your playground needs an update, take charge! By banding together with your community and securing grants and donations, your town can revamp its local playground into one that’s even more awesome, where everyone can have fun and experience the benefits of outdoor play together.

Looking for fun and safe play equipment for your own backyard? Stop by one of our showrooms to see our wide range of swing sets, accessories, rubber mulch, and more!

Play Trend: Natural Playgrounds

March 19th, 2015 by

Play Trend: Natural PlaygroundsWe’ve all seen classic playgrounds made from metal and plastic. These play spaces are loads of fun, but adding to the mix of options is a new trend: natural playgrounds. Incorporating elements from nature like tree trunks, boulders, mud, and sand, these earth-friendly playgrounds are becoming more common and popular. Often, these natural touches are cropping up alongside more conventional play equipment.

Natural play areas look different from their mainstream counterparts, and the novelty can be enough to encourage kids to get out and play, or check out a new area of the park that they haven’t been to before. In fact, in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, park developers got a two-for-one deal by creating a natural playground using trees knocked down during Hurricane Sandy. They chose to build the playground in a less-traveled part of the park to encourage more visitors. The overall effect is a play space that fits nicely into its woodsy surroundings and encourages kids to get creative with how they play.

Prospect Park isn’t the only place that’s capitalizing on natural resources. Big Adventure Park, in Houston, recently opened with a design that relies heavily on natural elements. Trees that had to be cleared for safety and space were used to create seating and play structures. Then, developers added some conventional play equipment like swings, spinners, and a zip line to mix with the natural elements like rope bridges and climbing pyramids. Developers hope that the park will be exciting and varied enough to attract families and keep kids coming back for new experiences.

Are natural playgrounds superior to the traditional playgrounds we all know and love? The concept is exciting, and we love any new reason for children to get outside and play! We think they’re a great addition to more conventional play equipment. Natural play spaces encourage kids to imagine, explore, and create their own uses for structures. Areas of sand, mud, and sticks can provide an outlet for artistic expression and creative growth.

However, incorporating the safety elements of conventional playgrounds, like rubber mulch to protect from falls, is important to keep kids safe while they play. Plus, natural playgrounds still require regular maintenance, just like their conventional counterparts. If you’re looking for ways to make your backyard into a play paradise for kids, come visit us at Play N’ Learn and check out our wide range of playsets, accessories, and rubber mulch.