Benefits of Playground Equipment for Children with Autism

November 27th, 2012 by

How can playground equipment benefit children with autism?With the diagnosis of autism and related disorders on the rise throughout the United States, parents and teachers are looking for any way to treat and enrich the lives of children who are diagnosed with some spectrum of the disorder.

From highly structured therapeutic activities to address behavior and speech issues to other forms of treatment like animal or music therapy, there are multitudes of ways to engage and improve the lives of children with autism. One of these methods is using structured play. It’s important to note that play programs must be implemented properly in order to be effective, as participation in physical activity can be difficult for children with autism because of low motor functioning and social anxiety.

Read on to see how using structured play on playground equipment can benefit children with autism alongside a behavioral intervention.

1. Play promotes fitness and a healthy lifestyle

The prevalence of being overweight increases for children with autism, with 19% of children with autism being overweight and an additional 36% at risk. Being overweight can bring with it the usual associated health problems like diabetes, heart problems, and joint issues, but these conditions can become especially problematic in children with autism as they frequently already have health issues like gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, and depression. Promoting activity and healthy movement helps children stay healthy and fit to reduce the risk of weight gain.

2. Exercise and play improves motor function

If you think about the number of challenges your playset presents to your child, it’s no surprise that using a rope ladder, slide, or swing would increase motor skills. By engaging in structured play sessions using some aspects of a playground or play area, a child with autism can increase their balance, flexibility, and strength.

3. Structured play decreases negative behavior

Negative, self-stimulating behavior like body rocking, spinning, and head-nodding are frequent in children with autism. Exercise, however, can help curb these behaviors along with aggressive or self-injurious behavior. It’s possible that the routines of exercise are similar enough to distract from the negative behavior.

4. Physical activity improves social outcomes

The benefits of exercise and play for children and adults alike are well known—we all are usually in a good mood after we exercise, and playing on teams promotes cooperation and teamwork. For children with autism, these benefits can be even more important as these children are frequently anxious and depressed and have a hard time interacting with other people. Physical exercise and play can promote self-esteem, increase general happiness, and help develop social relationships.

Incorporating structured play and exercise into autism treatment can have a myriad of positive outcomes for children who have been diagnosed on the spectrum. Using playground equipment to help children with autism have a structured and safe environment is a great way to promote physical activity and all the benefits that go along with it for children with autism.

Summer Vacations vs. Playsets, Trampolines, and Basketball Hoops

July 30th, 2012 by

Compare the value of a summer vacation with a long-term investment in your backyard!With summer comes nice weather, longer days, and for many, a lighter work schedule. What this often means is that it’s also the perfect time to take a summer vacation. But vacations aren’t the only way to spend your family’s hard-earned money and time: you could also use that money on a longer-term investment like a playset, trampoline, or basketball hoop. Here are the reasons why you might do that instead of taking a vacation:

Vacations only last a week. The one thing about a vacation that limits its value, primarily, is that it ends. Afterward, you have memories and pictures, but if your children are too young to value these anyway, it might not be the best option for your family. Playsets, trampolines, and basketball hoops last a while, and they’ll grow with your children, allowing for a much more dynamic investment of your time than a vacation.

Playsets, trampolines, and hoops are good for you. Vacations can be healthy, or they can be focused more on food and sitting around then exercise and exploration. Either way, they don’t offer the productive opportunities of a playset, trampoline, or basketball hoop. All of these are fun and engaging exercise options for your children (and you!), and a basketball hoop has the added bonus of helping to develop basketball skills.

The price is right. Vacations can get very expensive very quickly: if you have a family of three, four, or five, that means plane tickets (or gas for the car), a hotel room, pricey food, and entertainment during the week. And if people are arguing or complaining, or if some activity doesn’t work for everyone, you might be wondering during that vacation why you’re spending all this money. On the other hand, a playset, trampoline, or basketball hoop will likely be a cheaper initial investment than the vacation and its value will appreciate over time. With every year you have it, that money spent will seem like less and less of a cost.

Satisfaction is guaranteed. In terms of making sure you get value for your investment, a playset, trampoline, or basketball hoop is by far the safer bet. There’s no secret about what you’re getting with one of these, and you can adapt most of them to make sure that they continue to be interesting and fun for your children as they grow older. Vacations are a much riskier proposition, with the possibility of missed flights, mistaken reservations, and all of the other pratfalls of travel. If you have a limited amount of money to spend, it might make more sense to go with the safer option.

Of course, you can’t really go wrong with either of these, and both vacations and household entertainment are important for your family. But if you’re thinking about them as long-term investments, a playset, trampoline, or basketball hoop is the way to go!

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.

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.

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.

How to Let Your Playset Grow With Your Children

February 15th, 2012 by

One of the most incredible things about children is that they grow, constantly. And as they grow, their interests and activities change—they get bigger and stronger and smarter, and they want to do more and more both outside and inside the home.

Fortunately, that’s also one of the most incredible things about Plan N’ Learn’s modular playsets—they can grow with your child. Here are some of the ways you can adapt your playset to suit your child’s needs as he or she grows older.

First, start with the basics. A slide and climbing stairs are perfect for just about any age, as long as there’s supervision. Same goes for a tire swing, which can be hung from the bottom of many playsets and keeps your child low to the ground and moving relatively slowly.

Decide on a size. Based on the size of your backyard and how much space you have available, decide on an intial size and type for the playset. Any different size will still be adaptable; this has more to do with accommodating your family’s needs.

Add a climbing wall. While a climbing wall might not be ideal for the youngest children, it’s a simple and straightforward add-on for slightly older kids that want to be able to do more moving and climbing on the playset. The wall is angled so as to make it as safe as possible for your child.

Add swings. Swings are one of the most popular playground devices for children, and you can bring swings into your own backyard by adding them to a playset. Like with just about anything else, young children should be supervised while using the swings, but they’re a fun and exciting opportunity for older kids to work on their strength and have fun doing it.

Add monkey bars. Monkey bars are one of the more challenging aspects of a playset, as they take a certain amount of strength and dexterity to use to the point where they are fun. But for an older child, monkey bars are one of the best ways to exercise and develop while using a playset, and they’re more of an athletic device than most other add-ons you could integrate. These are for the budding gymnast!

Add a fire pole. Similar to the monkey bars, a fire pole isn’t much use for little kids. Bigger kids, though, can have a ball sliding down and working on their coordination and control. As should be kept in mind with anything that involves a child ascending or descending from a height, though, help and supervision should be given at least at first.

As you can see, there are no shortage of ways to evolve and enhance your Play N’ Learn playset so that it develops right along with your child and your home. It might get to be so much fun that you’ll want to start using it!

Why Redwood is the Perfect Material for Making a Playset

February 7th, 2012 by

When most people hear “redwood,” they immediately think of the enormous trees in the American West, the ones with trunks big enough to drive a car through.

But redwood is also the type of wood that Play N’ Learn’s Woodplay playsets are made from, and there are a few reasons why.

Redwood is strong. Redwood lumber is stronger than most other types of woods, such as pine and oak. Obviously, durability is incredibly important for a weight-bearing structure like a playset, and you’ll never have to worry about the lumber breaking or snapping.

Redwood is durable. Since it’s a structure that’s going to be spending all of its time outside, playsets must be made of incredibly durable wood. Redwood is resistant to warping and weather damage, and unlike many other types of lumber, redwood won’t shrink from rain or cold. On the same token, it’s particularly stable against insects, fungi, and drying out, all dangers for an outdoors structure.

Redwood is beautiful. A playset will be a part of your home, and so it’s important that it’s an attractive structure in addition to being safe and durable. Redwood is a naturally beautiful wood, with a deep color and, because of its strength, no need for artificial chemicals or substances that might mar its appearance and sheen.

Redwood is sustainable. Redwood is one of the fastest growing trees in the world, which means that it’s easier replaced than other trees that might take longer to grow. Using redwood lumber places less of a drain on the environment and helps maintain ecosystems better than other wood does.

Redwood is fire-resistant. A major worry of any wooden structure is that it could potentially be susceptible to fire—wood is, after all, how we fuel our indoor fires. But redwood is an impressively fire-resistant wood, and has long been known to withstand flame much better than other woods. This is important for a number of reasons: not only can you rest assured about the safety of your playset; you can also be confident that the set would never pose a danger to the rest of your property or your home.

Redwood is natural. All woods are natural, you might say. But that isn’t entirely true. Many woods, including composite and pressure-treated lumber, require chemicals to be durable and consistent enough to use in a playset. Unlike these materials, redwood is of a high-enough quality on its own that it only requires a minimal, non-toxic protective sheen.

There’s a reason that Play N’ Learn’s Woodplay playsets use redwood lumber as the main ingredient in our playsets. In fact, there are a number of reasons, and they’re all very important toward maintaining safety, beauty, and durability around the home. Trust us: you won’t regret a redwood playset.

What You Need To Set Up A Playset In Your Backyard

January 31st, 2012 by

No backyard is truly complete without a playset. For children, what would otherwise be an open grassy area is transformed into a jungle of possibility, where kids can climb, run, slide and do everything that you can’t do indoors. But you need to make sure that you have the proper situation that allows you to set up a playset properly before you purchase one. Here’s how to make sure that your backyard is playset-ready.
 
Measure your backyard. Obviously, the first step is to measure your backyard and make sure you know what size playset your yard can accommodate. This will influence both the playset you buy and where you position it, because you want to allow for substantial space around the playset.
 
Know what you want. There’s a variety of different materials your playset can be made, as well as accessories you can add: slides, climbing surfaces, swings, etc. Go over with the family what you want out of the playset and determine what’s best for your children depending on their age and interests. The playsets sold at Play N Learn’s Playground Superstores are manufactured out of wood, as wood looks better, doesn’t rust, and lasts longer than other materials.
 
Make sure you know the incline. Ideally, you’ll be setting your playset up in a flat area of your backyard. But make sure you know the incline, because if there is one, then that’ll need to be taken into account in setting up the set, as parts will need to be lengthened and adjusted. Otherwise, the set will be unstable and unsafe.
 
Decide if you want to mulch. If you want to put mulch around the set, you’ll have to install the playset first. And make sure you get mulch that is suited for kids play, as not all mulch is ideal for play.
 
Trim foliage. It’s best if you don’t have a lot of foliage and leaves around the set, so trim them back and also trim the trees that hang above the area where you’d liked to install the swing set. You want to avoid a lot of leaves and sap falling on the set as much as possible, as that minimizes necessary maintenance and cleaning.
 
If you’re going to assemble the set yourself, be prepared. Make sure you have the tools you need, make sure you know what you’re doing, and, most importantly, make sure you take your time!
 
With all this taken into account, you’re well on your way to having a fun, dynamic backyard. And with Play N’ Learn’s wooden playsets, you have guaranteed quality and ease of use. It doesn’t take much to accommodate a great playset, so take a peek into your backyard and see how much better it could be!

Why Buy a Modular Swing Set?

January 24th, 2012 by

Imagine the look on your children’s faces: you’ve just bought a new swing set, and they’re playing on it for the very first time. They’re giggling and shrieking—having a blast! Now think forward to a year from now, and imagine your children’s faces when you add monkey bars or a climbing wall to your swing set: They’re giggling, shrieking, and excited about their “new” playset all over again!

What are Modular Swing Sets?

Modular swing sets such as Woodplay playsets come with basic features such as slides, but have “modules,” or additional playing features, such as monkey bars and climbing walls, that can be added on at any time.

What Should I Think About Before Buying a Swing Set?

When choosing a playset, consider:

1. Your backyard space.

2. Your budget.

3. Your child’s future growth and play needs.

Modular swing sets are a great way for families to have a play set that considers all three factors. With a modular swing set, you can buy something that works for you now, but will still work as your background, budget, and child grow.

How Modular Swing Sets Help You Plan for the Future

Though it might be nice to imagine your kids as tiny tykes forever, soon, they will grow to demand bigger challenges. A three year old girl may not be able to use monkey bars now, but in another year she’ll be taller, heavier, and stronger—and likely bored with the playset she used to love.

With a modular swing set, you can add monkey bars, gliders, climbing walls, and more. These additions give your child more play options to be excited about and can help develop motor skills.

How to Get Started

Get the most from your investment in your children’s play activities. Purchase a quality modular play set from an experienced playground expert. Bring the entire family to one of Play N’ Learn’s Maryland & Virginia stores today, and ‘test play’ the finest playsets available. And for those near our Columbia, MD and Chantilly, VA locations, every Monday and Thursday morning we hold Free Open Play Days from 10am to 1pm!

For questions, advice or suggestions, call 1-800-22 SWING or contact us through our site!