The Advantages of Buying from Locally Owned Businesses

September 20th, 2012 by

Play N' Learn has been locally owned and operated since 1986.Here at Play N’ Learn, we’re full supporters of the “buy locally” movement sweeping the country. We’re a locally-owned company that’s been in business since 1986, so we’re naturally inclined to support other local and small business like us.

But our bias is well-founded—there are plenty of great reasons to buy locally. Read on for some advantages of supporting local businesses.

1. Good, friendly service

Because local businesses usually deal in specialties rather than general needs, their employees are well versed in that subject and have a good understanding of the product. In addition to providing you detailed answers to your questions, they’ll be able to take the time to get to know you and your needs as a customer.

2. Have your service issues handled at home

Have you ever had to send something away to have it fixed? Once you factor in the trips to the post office, shipping costs, and the time you go without the item, it can be a very inconvenient process. But when you buy locally, you also have local service. That means when something breaks or needs a tune up, your shop owner will be right there to handle it, or find someone who can.

3. Invest in your community

Because locally owned businesses are owned by and hire from people within the community, they have a higher investment in making sure your neighborhood flourishes. Local businesses are more likely to be involved in community organizations like schools, sports teams, and non-profits that directly affect your neighborhood and family, because it’s also where they live.

4. Green friendly

Small and local businesses often buy within the community, meaning there’s less transportation of goods and use of fuel. Also, most businesses are in a town center as opposed to on the outskirts of town, which makes your travel to a centralized hub and cuts down on sprawl and destruction of habitats on the edges of town.

5. Keep your community interesting

What’s worse than strip mall upon strip mall of chain stores? Supporting local businesses means you’ll be supporting many small shops that specialize in what your neighborhood really wants, whether it’s specialty restaurants, outdoor gear, book stores, vintage boutiques, and more. Because the success of each business is truly based on how much the community uses it (and not how much a national chain invests in it), you’ll be shaping the identity of your neighborhood. Plus, people are more likely to settle down in an area that has a distinct local atmosphere—and who doesn’t like an interesting place to live?

These are just a few of the benefits of buying locally. Here at Play N’ Learn we embrace the idea of local thinking and focusing on our community here in Maryland and Virginia. To experience the local difference first hand, stop by one of our stores to check out one of our many playsets, trampolines, basketball goals, and other cool stuff.

Turn Your Backyard Into A Sports Arena with A Goalrilla Hoop

July 23rd, 2012 by

Turn Your Backyard into a Sports Arena with a Goarilla HoopMost of us engage with sports by watching it on TV and remembering what we used to play in school. But this doesn’t have to be the case. There are plenty of ways to bring the sports experience to your yard or home, and there isn’t really a sport that can’t be approximated in some way.

Basketball: Basketball is perfect for bringing home, because there are fewer players needed as compared to many other sports. And with a Goalrilla hoop, you can shoot, drive and play like you would anywhere else. Just put it in a rounded area of your driveway or on the street in front of your house and enjoy with friends, your kids, and their friends.

Soccer: Soccer requires a little more space to play properly, so if you have a bigger yard, you can put smaller nets on either side (or just one) and conduct scaled-down games there. But there are also other ways to enjoy soccer at home, whether it’s training devices designed to improve dribbling or control or simpler games like keepaway and regular passing drills. Soccer’s also a movement-intensive game, so it’s great exercise for the whole family.

Baseball: Baseball’s tricky, because it requires a large amount of space. Use a wiffleball and wiffle-bat instead of real equipment to keep it contained to a yard. There’s also the classic fallback of playing catch, and there are a number of accessories you can get to enjoy various aspects of the game, like hitting trainers and tees.

Hockey: If you have an area of blacktop or street where you can safely set up a small goal, street hockey is easy to play: all you need is a specially-designed puck or street hockey ball and a few sticks. And if there’s a pond near you that freezes over during winter, that’s even better. Just remember: both playing on the street and playing on ice are dangerous, so take care to make sure that you’re keeping the environment as safe as possible.

Football: Football’s easy! All you need is a football and you can play two-hand touch. No tackling at home, though: leave that to the pros.

Golf: There are three ways to work on your golf game at home. First, you can get a strip to putt on, equipped with a cup. Second, you can get a net to hit into, which allows you the most opportunity to work on your swing with all different clubs. (You can put this in an unfinished room in the basement.) Third, you can chip and work on your short game in the backyard. But when you’re hitting around in the backyard, keep anything but the wedges stowed away.

With all these different ways to enjoy the territory of your own home, there’s really no good excuse to pass up on healthy exercise. And after purchasing a Goalrilla hoop, you’ll find that it’ll be hard not to go out and play on it!

Check out our website to see our selection of Goalrilla hoops and other ways to spice up your backyard play!

Planning Your Backyard Stay-cation

June 21st, 2012 by

Planning Your Backyard Stay-cation“I’m bored, there’s nothing to do.”

It’s the most dreaded sentence parents hear during summer vacation.

While it’s a safe bet you may hear that once in awhile, there are a few steps you can take to keep your children out of the summer doldrums. Start by planning a backyard stay-cation!

Stay-cations serve many purposes; they not only give children something to look forward to, they also allow you and your children to work together to plan it. Creativity is the most important tool when it comes to a stay-cation.

Plan on using your playset as the focal point for the stay-cation. Create fun and easy contests using every part of the playset—see who can swing the longest or complete an obstacle course in the shortest amount of time.

Including a water element brightens up stay-cations. Sprinklers are always fun, as are mini-pools and squirt guns. Fill up a basket of water balloons and watch as your children have fun and on a hot July day.

Don’t forget to schedule a picnic lunch during your stay-cation. Include your children’s favorite lunchtime meal and snacks to make this event special. The anticipation helps keep everyone involved and focused.

Breaking up the stay-cation helps keep the idea fresh and interesting to your children, so here are a few backyard games that are easy to plan and fun for everyone:

  • Freeze tag
  • Hopscotch
  • Beanbag toss
  • Wiffle ball
  • Foursquare
  • Obstacle course

A stay-cation should also have planned down time so everyone can recharge their batteries. Sidewalk chalk, coloring books, and crayons are inexpensive and help little artists display their latest creations. Visit the local library for summer classics that make for excellent reading circle time.

Don’t forget that part of stay-cation planning should include an inspection of your playset to make any necessary adjustments. You may even want to add new accessories to make your stay-cation the best ever!

Motivating Your Children to Play Outside

May 23rd, 2012 by

Motivating Your Children to Play OutsideChildren enjoy play, but sometimes they don’t necessarily want to participate in the kind of play that’s best for them: outdoors, physical activity, constructive and safe. With the advent of video games, smartphones and all the other technology that distracts both children and adults, it has become harder to get children interested in playing outside, but here are some ways to motivate them.

Remind your children of games they can play. Oftentimes, the problem for kids is that they don’t know what to do once they get outside. But there are an almost endless number of games available for the enterprising child: any sort of sport, tag, hide and seek, imaginary play, SPUD, and so on. If kids have a particular activity they can get excited about before leaving the house, they’ll be more eager to do so in the future.

Encourage your kids to try and make something up. One of the most empowering things for a child is to discover a game that didn’t exist before, a game of their own creation. If you let your kids experiment with the possibilities of play, they’ll understand better that they don’t need to be bound by the rules of any pre-created game when they’re trying to entertain themselves, and that there are an almost unlimited number of ways to have fun.

Place limits on certain indoor activities. There’s nothing wrong with video games or television or the computer, necessarily. But in excess, these activities don’t contribute to overall health and wellbeing. If you limit the amount of time your children can use these indoor things to either a certain amount of time every day or only certain parts of the week, it’ll force them to find other ways to entertain themselves, and these ways will most likely involve going outside.

Play with your kids and exercise on your own. Playing with your children outside helps set a positive precedent. If they see you enjoying yourself outside, they’ll be more likely to do the same themselves. And if mommy and daddy are in good shape, they’ll want to be in good shape like mommy and daddy. Setting good examples for your children is incredibly important, particularly when it comes to active pursuits like exercise and play.

Get a Play N’ Learn Playset! Create a park for your kids to play in the backyard with a playset. Your kids will love the games they can play on it, and you can add and change features as your child ages.

Getting your kids to exercise is a very important part of setting them up to lead healthy and productive lives, and it’s crucial to start early. If your children are used to exercising when they’re young, they will expect it to be a part of their lives as they get older, and by then they will be able to be a part of organized sports that help instill play as a regular, daily activity.

Activities You and Your Child Can Do Together

May 3rd, 2012 by

Activities you can do with your child.As much fun as it is for your child or children to enjoy a playset or trampoline on their own, sometimes they—and you—would be much happier if you can also participate. Not every activity is appropriate for both ages to enjoy, but there are more than enough different things that you and your child can do together to keep both of you entertained through the summer and beyond.

Using the swings. The swings are one of the easiest and most efficient ways to spend time with your child; just push him or her back and forth, and all of a sudden you have a convenient chance to talk, a way to make sure they stay safe, and a fun activity to share. Even children who can swing by themselves will often prefer it if you push them, as it makes the activity seem like a ride at an amusement park.

Climbing and monkey bars. Some of the aspects of the playset that are a little more difficult, such as using the monkey bars, require help from the adult for younger children, so they would certainly much appreciate your involvement. This gives you a good opportunity to not only help build your child’s strength, but also to teach them about movement and terrain in a new and exciting way.

Pretend play. A playset creates a new landscape for children in the yard, something that isn’t like their house or the rest of their world, and that makes for a perfect opportunity for them to use their imagination. What makes this type of experience even more powerful is if you allow them to welcome you into their world and participate fully; this makes the power of their imagination seem even greater.

The trampoline. Adult supervision is always a positive with regard to using the trampoline, and though more than one person shouldn’t use a trampoline at once, standing by and overseeing your child’s play will give them the chance to impress you with their skills and you the chance to make sure they are safe and enjoying themselves.

Exploration. Like with pretend play, exploration is a fantastic way to let your child take the lead and guide you for a change. Have them show you around the playset and say why each part is interesting to them, what they enjoy doing there, and how they like to play. Your child will feel empowered and get to exercise his/her creativity.

There are countless other ways to enjoy your playset with your child; part of the fun is discovering them yourself, so get playing! If you want to test out any of these fun parent-child activities, be sure to check out our Free Open Play Days and our Play Anytime option  at our Columbia location!

Four Great Accessories For Your Trampoline

April 26th, 2012 by

Trampoline AccessoriesA trampoline is one of those products that seems to stand alone — you get a trampoline and then the fun begins and never ends. While this is true, there are also a variety of excellent and safety-enhancing accessories you can get to make your trampoline experience even more rewarding.

A Net: The first, and maybe most important, accessory you can get for your trampoline is a net to surround the outside. A net considerably minimizes risk of injury and danger when jumping near the outside of the trampoline edge, which may give you piece of mind when it comes to trampoline safety.

Trampoline Basketball Hoop: On the fun side, there are trampoline basketball hoops, which allow you and your children to live out all of your NBA fantasies. Basketball is a perfect example of an activity that can be enhanced by a trampoline, and it’s also a great game to play solo.

Trampoline Anchors and Ladders: Anchors and ladders are both great for enhancing the safety of the trampoline experience. Anchors keep the trampoline grounded, increasing the stability of your jumping as well as preventing the mat from acting as a sail in wind. Ladders help mount the trampoline, of course, and that also lessens the chances of falling when climbing on or off.

Trampoline Tents: Trampoline tents allow you to create a new environment on the surface of your trampoline, where smaller children can sleep, play, and hang out. Rather than your children making a fort out of your quilts and pillows in the basement or a bedroom, they have a ready-made one right outside, and it’s perfect for nice weather.

Sure, you can let your trampoline remain just a trampoline, but these items all show the ways in which the trampoline experience can be enhanced. Particularly with the different interests of family members, trampoline accessories allow everyone to be equally involved in the experience.

Games You Can Play On Your Play N’ Learn Playset

April 11th, 2012 by

Games you can play on your Play N' Learn PlaysetA Play N’ Learn playset has near unlimited potential for entertainment, considering how dynamic and versatile of a structure it is. That being said, sometimes it helps to have specific games to play with your children, or for your children to play, when you’re using your playset. Here are a few ideas for more carefully designed play.

Tag: One of the most classic backyard games there is, tag takes on an added dimension on your playset, where kids can move around the intricacies of the set with an added dimension to their exploration. Players must also be more delicate and strategic in their pursuits than they normally would be on flat ground, changing the game from a purely athletic endeavor to one that involves planning and experimentation.

Roleplaying: Because playsets are such a different environment than the regular yard or ground, it creates whole new possibilities for pretend play, such as superheroes or other types of supernatural characters. The vertical element especially helps children escape the normal bounds of their psyche and become someone else.

Relay courses: Though racing can become unsafe on a playset, children can create courses that they follow in a specific route, and then have to copy each other or emulate the previous person’s route. If there are enough children playing, you can do it in a relay format, where once one child finishes the other carries on where he left off.

Swinging games: If your playset has a swingset attached, that opens up another realm of possibilities for game-playing. One good one is for children to try and swing in as close to synchronicity as possible, matching each other’s path exactly. Another is to try and swing on opposite trajectories but meet simultaneously in the middle. Timing games on the swings work on your child’s control and sense of movement, and can be good strength builders.

Hide and seek: While it’s difficult to contain an entire game of hide and seek to a playset, due to the fact that most of it is open and it doesn’t cover a huge amount of territory, the playset makes for a great hiding place in a yard-wide or household-wide game. Also, there are ways to contain a game entirely to the set if the seeker closes his or her eyes and stands nearby – this becomes more of a precision game than a wider game of hide and seek.

A Play N’ Learn playset is so much fun that you don’t even need games like this to keep you and your children entertained, but it never hurts to be able to diversify your play. And make sure to come up with games of your own!

Why You Should Get a Play N’ Learn Playset Instead of a Pool

March 13th, 2012 by

Playset fun!

Let’s face it: you probably only have so much space in your backyard. And that space, in many cases, could be spent on either a pool or a playset—often times, not both. That means that you might have to make a tough decision on the right one to get for your family. Here are some reasons why you should go the playset route:

Playsets are less expensive. Pools can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, which is considerably more than a playset would cost you. And post-purchase costs of a playset—especially our redwood playsets at Play N Learn—is incredibly simple, requiring just the occasional application of protectants. On the other hands, keeping your pool clean and in working order takes an elaborate routine of services and chemicals, plus the covering during non-swimming seasons.

Pools often necessitate excessive construction or landscaping. One of the biggest barriers to obtaining a pool is the initial excavation and digging that needs to be done to make a space for it. Besides being pricey and cosmetically affecting, this process is noisy, intrusive and can go on for a long period of time.

All a playset needs is to be put together. Unlike the pool, with a playset, you just need to assemble it in a flat space in your backyard—which either you or professionals can do—and you’ll be set and ready to go. No major changes to the landscape of your home, and no bothersome construction.

Playsets are safer than pools. Although a pool is safe if properly used, there are many concerns to be thought of when deciding on a pool for your family. Constant monitoring is required, and the potential for accidents is high. Playsets, on the other hand, require casual supervision to be very safe, and risks get noticeably smaller as children get older, whereas you can never quite outgrow the risks of a pool.

Playsets are far easier to maintain. As touched on when discussing expenses, playsets require very little maintenance to stay healthy and safe. Pools, on the other hand, need constant and complicated monitoring.

You can use your playset all year round. Pools have a definite window of use: warm weather, and that’s it. But deep into weather that would see your pool covered and out of commission, playsets still offer an enjoyable and constructive play experience—fall, summer, spring, no problem.

Of course, the choice between a playset and a pool has a lot to do with your family’s taste and preferences and the composition of your backyard. But we think that if you go the playset route, you certainly won’t regret it.

From the Customer: Why a Springfree Trampoline is a Great Purchase

March 9th, 2012 by

We’d be happy to never stop promoting the virtues of our Springfree trampolines. But what’s more important than our opinion is that of the customer’s—that’s who the trampoline is for, after all. And when we received a wonderful testimony from someone who’d just purchased a Springfree trampoline, we couldn’t resist sharing it. After all, we don’t want you to just take our word for it!

Here are some of the great things one satisfied trampoline owner had to say:

It makes her feel safe. Though the customer was concerned about some of the safety questions behind trampolines, she said her experience with the Springfree model has been completely reassuring and entirely safe. There’s no metal to be concerned about, the net is strong and supportive and the trampoline itself is soft.

It’s the best exercise she’s ever gotten. Because of how much fun the Springfree trampoline is to use, she’s been averaging ten times using it a day—giving her great exercise that’s also enjoyable and varied. Even without springs, the Springfree trampoline provides a high jump that allows the exertion of both cardio and strength.

The customer service has been great. The customer’s questions, asked before purchase, during assembly, and once the trampoline was set up, were all responded to with informative and helpful answers. Between the website design, the marketing of the trampoline, the safety features and the product itself, the customer had no disappointments.

Most importantly: it’s fun! The customer called the trampoline a “euphoria creator,” and said that everyone who steps on it instantly has a huge smile on his or her face. Which means, she’s not the only one—she said that a number of people had gotten great joy out of the Springfree trampoline, and that she couldn’t be more delighted to have the trampoline as a part of her home.

It’s responses like this that make the business worth it. Springfree trampolines are perfect for providing a fun, safe, diverse exercise experience for you and your family. And the customer service aspect is a big part—we want your purchase and use of the trampoline to be as pleasant and easy as possible, and we’re committed to making that happen. So if you want to tap into some of the joy that this customer felt, go out and get your family a Springfree trampoline—you won’t regret it.

Why You Should Get Swings With Your Playset

February 29th, 2012 by

There are a number of great add-ons to consider when purchasing a playset from Play N Learn. But one of, if not the, most important to consider is the addition of swings. A swing arm is a worthwhile addition to the playset, and you’ll see that swings are a great, multifaceted addition to your backyard.

Swings increase interaction on the playset. As anyone who’s ever spent a leisurely afternoon swinging on a playground knows, swings are positioned one next to another, giving participants a great opportunity to interact while using them. Kids can talk, play and perform alongside one another while still having their own space to themselves. And parents can both associate with each other and have an intuitive involvement in their children’s play. Speaking of which…

Swings allow the parent to play with the child. More than any other aspect of the playset, swings are a direct interaction between parent and child: you push and they go back and forth. It allows you to both monitor your son or daughter as well as interact with them in a casual and enjoyable way, chatting and casually spending time together. In our often harried lives, a five or ten minute stretch on the swings is a great way to spend one-on-one time with your child.

Swings give a child a sense of progress. Of course, supervision on the swings is always important, but as time goes by your child will be able to exert more power and freedom on the swings. They will feel stronger and notice their growth more than they might from using other parts of the playset, and you can gradually give them more and more control over their swinging experience. It’s important for a child to both notice and play a role in their development, and swings are one way to do that.

Swings make your playset a richer experience. Simply enough, the swings make your set a more diverse and interesting landscape for kids, and they allow more children to participate at once. Depending on your needs, you can get a different number of swings, and the more available, the more of a center for activity the swings—and, by extension, the playset—can be. It’s always good to keep in mind that you may want more swings than you have children so as to accommodate friends and relatives.

Swings let your children do something they normally can’t. Flight is an exciting and rare feeling for a child, and the closest they can safely come to this experience is on the swings. Kids’ imagination can run wild while moving through the air, and the more a child’s mind can interact with what he or she is doing, the more content and engaged that child is likely to be over a long time of using the same playset.

The vast majority of Play N’ Learn Playground Superstores’ playsets are sold with swings, and that’s because of the depth and flexibility they bring to a playset. While there are still countless great features to a playset without them, we think swings can only make a great addition to your backyard even better.