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Exploring the Most Commonly Used Playground Equipment

Colorful outdoor playground equipment

Playgrounds are not just places for kids to run and play; they serve as vital arenas for childhood development. The variety of playground equipment available today caters to different aspects of a child’s growth, from physical and social skills to cognitive and sensory development. In this comprehensive look at playground equipment, we’ll explore the staples of the schoolyard and parks, understanding how each piece fosters a unique set of developmental benefits for children.

What are the Most Commonly Used Playground Equipment?

When it comes to playground equipment, there are four that are most commonly used in schools, parks, and other recreational areas: slides, climbing structures, swings and seesaws. Each comes with its own set of benefits and contributes to children’s development in different ways.

Let’s take a closer look at these four pieces of playground equipment and their benefits:


Slides are more than a way to hurry from the lofty heights to the safety of the ground; they are agents of exhilaration and empowerment. Slides come in various forms, such as the classic straight slide and the more adventurous spiral or tube slide. This tactile experience helps in honing children’s sensory processing skills.

Types of Slides

  • Straight Slides: A right of passage for kids of all ages, these slides teach the basics of balance and self-control.
  • Spiral Slides: Their spiralled descent acts as a lesson in spatial awareness and critical thinking, requiring a precise judgment of distance and speed.
  • Tube Slides: Enclosed for safety, these slides provide a sensory experience where children learn to gauge their own body movements in relation to the external space.

Benefits of Slides

Slides provide significant health and social benefits. As children climb, balance and slide down the slide, they develop balance, coordination, and motor skills. Mentally, slides provide a sensory experience that helps in honing children’s sensory processing skills. By navigating through different types of slides, children learn to adjust their body movements according to the shape and size of the slide.

Additionally, slides also promote social development by encouraging interaction between children as they take turns and engage in imaginary play on the playground. This not only fosters teamwork and communication skills but also teaches important lessons in patience and cooperation.

Climbing Structures

Climbing structures are the ‘great equalizers’ of playground equipment, encouraging children to reach for the skies regardless of height. Be it climbers, nets, or trusty monkey bars, these apparatuses are pivotal in enhancing gross motor skills and fostering a can-do attitude in children.

Types of Climbing Structures

  • Climbers: These climbers are designed to challenge children’s physical strength, agility, and coordination. They are made of various materials, such as plastic, metal, and wood.
  • Nets: Both spider-like in design and adventure, nets demand upper body strength and strategy, teaching children to use muscles and mind in unison.
  • Monkey Bars: The lineage of the monkey bars can be traced back to the 18th century, and even today, they remain a testing ground for agility, strength, and endurance.

Importance of Climbing in Motor Skill Development

By engaging in physical activity on climbing structures, children are able to build muscle strength, improve their balance and coordination, and learn to navigate space and depth perception. These skills are not only important for physical development but also for daily tasks such as dressing themselves, tying shoelaces, and navigating playground equipment.

Furthermore, climbing structures can also have a positive impact on a child’s attitude and behaviour. The sense of accomplishment that comes with successfully completing a climb can boost a child’s self-esteem and confidence. Additionally, the challenge of overcoming obstacles on a climbing structure can teach perseverance and problem-solving skills.


Swings have an almost universal appeal, with their smooth back and forth motion being one of the most soothing experiences a child can have. But beyond the sensation, swinging helps children develop a nuanced understanding of balance and the mind-body connection.

Types of Swings

  • Traditional Swings: These classic swings are a staple of every playground, providing an airy rush of freedom and an early lesson in aerodynamics.
  • Tire Swings: Offering a more dynamic experience, tire swings require children to engage their core and legs to set the pendulum motion, promoting both upper and lower body strength.
  • Bucket Swings: Designed for the littlest of children, bucket swings are an introduction to the classic swing motion, as well as the childhood concept of ‘push-and-pull.’

Impact of Swinging on Balance and Coordination

Swinging is particularly beneficial for children’s balance and coordination skills. As they pump their legs and shift their weight to maintain the swinging motion, they constantly adjust and recalibrate their bodies to stay balanced. This continuous movement also helps improve hand-eye coordination as children reach for and grab onto the swing chains or ropes.

In addition, swings can help develop a child’s proprioceptive sense – the awareness of one’s body in space. The back-and-forth motion of swinging stimulates this sense, helping children better understand how their body moves and where it is in relation to objects around them.


Seesaws, also known as teeter-totters, bring a sense of cooperation and teamwork to the playground. As children work together to achieve a harmonious balance, they are also building their core strength and learning about cause and effect.

Types of Seesaws

  • Classic Seesaw: The classic seesaw provides children with an opportunity to learn about weight distribution and coordination as they work to stay balanced.
  • Spring Seesaws: These bouncy seesaws add an element of excitement and physical exertion as children use their legs to propel themselves up and down.
  • Multi-seat Seesaws: Perfect for group play, these seesaws encourage communication, compromise, and teamwork among children.

Benefits of Playing on Seesaws

Seesaws are not only fun but also promote social and emotional development. Children learn to communicate, negotiate, and take turns while playing with others. They also develop core strength and balance as they work to maintain their position on the seesaw.


Playground equipment is more than just a means of entertainment for children; it’s a vital tool in their physical, cognitive, and social development. From the daring spirals of slides to the collaborative balance of seesaws, each piece offers a unique set of benefits that contribute significantly to a child’s growth. At SPI Plastics, we understand the intricate roles these structures play in shaping young minds and bodies. That’s why we’re dedicated to designing custom playgrounds that fit the specific needs of your community and also ensure safety, durability, and endless fun.

If you’re interested in creating an engaging, developmental-friendly playground that children will cherish for years, we invite you to get in touch with us. Using our custom molding process, we can build an environment where play and learning go hand in hand.

SPI Plastics Inc.

165 Stoneman Drive, Box 100
(Shouldice Block Road & Joynt Street)
Shallow Lake, ON
N0H 2K0

T   519-935-2211
TF 800-269-6533
F   519-935-2174

Business Hours

Monday - Thursday: 8am to 4:30pm
Friday: 8am to 4pm
Saturday & Sunday: Closed

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