What is the Best Playground Equipment for a Daycare?

What is the Best Playground Equipment for a Daycare?

Playtime is a critical part of a child’s development, and that includes more than indoor toys, puzzles, balls, and games. Outdoor play provides a host of benefits for children and gives them an outlet to move and be active - not to mention the benefit of natural vitamin D.

Playgrounds encourage children to spend more time outdoors where they can run and play and develop essential skills. From swings to slides and balancing beams, there are so many choices of play equipment for a playground. 

Are you looking to purchase daycare playground equipment? We’re here to help you decide the best options for your daycare center, church playground, or toddler park.

The Benefits of Outdoor Play for Daycare-Aged Children

Children benefit from outdoor play in so many ways - physically, mentally, and socially. Some states even require outdoor play to be a part of the daily routine. Licensed daycare centers in North Carolina, for example, need to provide a minimum of one hour daily outdoor time for children over the age of two who are in their care for more than five hours a day.

The mandatory outdoor play not only gives the children a change of scenery but affords them more freedom to stretch out their limbs and get active.

Physical Benefits to Outdoor Play

Outdoor play provides excellent exercise, which is essential for growing children. Exercise and physical activity help their body grow, strengthen their bones, keep them healthy, and help avoid obesity. Playing on playground equipment gives them the added benefit of helping them develop their motor skills. They’ll use a full range of muscles to climb, swing, pull, push, crawl, jump, and run on different playsets.

Mental Benefits to Outdoor Play

Toddler playgrounds provide physical and sensory play for young children, which helps them learn and encourages their brain development. Daycare playground equipment fosters a child’s imagination and creative thinking skills. They’ll figure out how to climb up the ladder, where the tunnel will take them, and what happens when you go down a slide.

Social Benefits to Outdoor Play

Outdoor play, particularly in playgrounds, encourages children to interact and work together. Whether it’s taking turns going down the slide, racing each other up the climbing stones, or coordinating together to make the seesaw work, children develop their social skills in a natural setting.

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Planning a Playground

There are many varieties of playground equipment on the market and the choices can seem overwhelming. How do you choose the ideal playset for your toddler playground? 

  1. Determine the Children’s Needs

    Who are the children who will be using your daycare or church playground? How many children do you expect to accommodate at a time? What are their ages and skill level?  Do they have any special needs or challenges? 

    When looking into the playground gear, keep in mind the number of children who will be using the playground at a time. Make sure there are enough activities to keep most of them occupied and not all in line waiting for the same slide. Consider investing in a few pieces if you will have a large crowd of children using the facilities at once to avoid fights and long waits. 

    For toddlers, look for playsets that are geared for their small size. You can find toddler playground equipment that has all the fun and excitement of the larger playgrounds - but the little tykes can safely navigate this daycare playground equipment on their own. Preschool-aged children can enjoy larger playsets, merry-go-rounds, and swing sets. 

    If you’re servicing children with mobility issues, you’ll want to make your playground ADA-compliant, handicap-accessible, and be as inclusive as possible. If you’ll have some children in wheelchairs, consider a wheelchair-accessible swing or a racetrack so they can participate in the fun from their chair.

    Take the environment into consideration as well when you’re purchasing your daycare playground equipment. If it’s often sunny, the children may benefit from playsets with a roof that can give them shade and protection from the sun’s rays. 

  2. What are the Project Limitations? 

    Before you design your dream playground, make sure your plans realistically fit both your space and your budget. 

    • Space Constraints - How much space do you have for the playground? Before purchasing the equipment, make sure that you’ll have enough space in between the playsets for the kids to comfortably navigate and safely play.  Also keep in mind that you want to leave space for free play to run around, play ball, and ride bikes. People in the industry refer to the total area needed for the playground equipment as the “Use Zone”.

    • Budget - What is your budget for the playground? Include not only the cost of the playground equipment, but also playground surfacing, any safety fences, building and installation fees, and landscaping work if applicable. If you plan to include water fountains, benches, picnic tables, lighting, and other features in your playground, make sure to include them in your budget.

    • Location, Terrain, and Environmental Factors - Environmental factors may influence your playground’s design and equipment choices.

      If the designated playground area is hilly or has different levels of elevations, you may choose to go with a few smaller playground sets rather than one large one. Work with the land formation to design the playground layout. 

      The environment may affect what you can use as well. If you live in a hot climate, don’t use black rubber mats, as they will absorb the heat. Wood chips or mulch are better options. 

  3. Playground Design 

    Just as you’d get a professional to draw up plans for a new house, you’ll need to have a design of the playground. This should include:

    • Layout - An experienced playground designer can help you plan out the layout of the playground and equipment. You’ll need to consider how much space to leave around the swings, the type of surfacing under the climbing equipment, where to place the sandbox, etc.

      You may also want to set up different zones in the playground, for active play with playground equipment, free play with open space and grass, and a resting zone with benches or tables.

    • Esthetics - Are you looking to fit a specific color scheme or theme to your playground? You can find playground equipment in a range of colors and designs to fit your design.

    • Safety - Safety is one of the most critical factors in designing a playground. You’ll need to plan the ground surfacing for under and around the play areas, such as rubber mulch, mats for under the swings, and safety borders around the equipment.

      You may want to install gates around the different play areas to keep the little kids contained or away from the equipment for older kids. You’ll also want to keep in mind any electrical wires or other utilities in the area. Don’t install a tall climbing wall or playset under a low-hanging electrical wire, for example, or a trampoline under a tree.

      Check for trees in the area as well and keep the placement of them in mind when designing the area. Leave plenty of buffer room between the play area and any trees or other obstructions.

      Check your local laws on building codes and fire safety to ensure that your design is compliant with all safety regulations. 

    Playground Equipment


  4. Popular Playground Equipment

    Finally, choose playground equipment that you know the kids will enjoy. After all, that’s the goal of your project! From the classics to the newest trends, these are the most popular types of playground equipment that the kids will enjoy for years.

    • Swings 

      Swings are a favorite from babies through adults! If you’re considering installing swings in your play area, you may want to install a variety of swings to accommodate different ages. 

      Bucket swings can accommodate babies through toddlers. You can add them onto most swing sets instead of a regular seat. 

      For added fun, go with a tire swing or two. Check the recommended age range on the tire swings, as some are only suitable for older children. You can find them in different color choices to match your playground’s design - or paint them yourself to match!

      If you’re accommodating children with mobility issues, add a Handicap-accessible swing. You can get a full set of the specialty swings or add one to a standard swing set. 

    • Slides 

      Is there any playground equipment that gets more usage than a slide? From tunnel slides to wave slides, to slides with decks and toddler-sized slides, they’ll keep the kids busy and entertained. As a bonus, they’ll learn an important social skill of how to take turns going down the slide and to patiently wait until they get their chance.

    • Play Systems

      Play systems are, arguably, the most popular choice for a playground. You’ll find play systems in an array of sizes and prices to fit every type of playground and budget. Play systems can have slides, tunnels, bridges, and activity centers. 

      If you’re catering to children of different age ranges, you may want to get a toddler play system for the smallest of children and a larger set for the older children

    • Merry-go-rounds

      Merry-go-rounds, a classic park toy, have evolved over the years. Kids still love the dizzying ride, and you’ll now find them in a huge range of sizes and designs. These toys are an excellent choice for daycare playgrounds. They don’t take up too much space in the yard, can accommodate multiple kids at a time, and foster the children’s social skills as they work together.

    • Climbing Equipment

      Children love to climb, and while they’re having fun, they’re strengthening their bodies and improving their motor skills. Incorporate climbing equipment into your playground design. From small climbing rocks that are suitable for toddlers to larger rock climbing walls for older children, there are pieces to accommodate all ages, budgets, and space constraints. 

    • Balance Beams 

      Balance beams help children improve their mobility and motor skills and provide a fun challenge. Watch the little ones put one foot carefully in front of the other as they attempt to navigate the beams without slipping off. 

      Balance beams aren’t just the traditional wooden sticks anymore. You’ll find them in all shapes, designs, and colors - from those mimicking a tree stump to a series of colorful pods. 

    • Monkey Bars

      Is a playground a proper playground without a set of monkey bars? Watch the children learn perseverance while they develop their upper-body strength by practicing their skills on the monkey bars. For the little kids, try dome climbers, which will help them hone some of the motor skills needed for the monkey bars when they get older.

To Sum Up

Planning a daycare playground involves a lot of factors, from space and budget constraints to children’s varying ages and skill levels. However, children benefit so much from playing outdoors, and playgrounds help them grow physically, mentally, and socially, all while having fun. Incorporate slides, swings, playsets, balance beams, and climbing equipment into your toddler playground to maximize the fun and learning experience!

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