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How Playgrounds Encourage Gross Motor Skills

a young boy climbing up a playsystem

For all children, but for young children in particular, playgrounds are absolutely essential for growth and learning. Playsystems offer children a chance to interact with each other, to work together, to practice patience, and to develop problem-solving skills. However, these social and intellectual activities aren’t the only thing that a playground offers.

The very nature of a playground encourages physical activity, and indeed, playgrounds are linked with healthier weights for children. In fact, a child who simply lives within a half-mile of a playground or playsystem is five times more likely to be at a healthier weight than children who do not. While exercise is undoubtedly valuable, playgrounds are also responsible for the development of gross motor skills, which are essential for sports, body coordination, and a lifetime of activity.

What are Gross Motor Skills?

Gross motor skills refer to the controlled movement of the large muscle groups in the legs, arms, and upper body. They’re what enable children to perform jumping jacks, or crawl through a small space. As children grow, these skills will be used to ride bicycles, play team sports, dance, and practice fine motor skills.

How Do Playgrounds and Playsystems Help?

Visit any playground and you’ll immediately see a wide variety of slides, climbers, bars, and more, all waiting to challenge children with new physical activities. There are a few that specifically target gross motor skill development, so if you’re looking to increase the play value for your visitors, consider adding one of these three playground components.


Climbers are great multi-functional pieces to add to your playsystem. They can operate in tandem with standing playground equipment as a means by which children can traverse levels, or they can operate independently as stand-alone climbers.

Either way, the nature of their design means that to use them, children must use their arms and legs at the same time to support their body weight and move vertically up the climber. They must also decide in what order to move their limbs, and remember to grip or push off the climbing holds as they progress. For older children, climbers are a great way to strengthen their limbs and test their problem-solving abilities. For younger children, climbers are an all-in-one tool for gross motor development.


As with climbers, plastic slides are a great multi-purpose component for any playsystem. Children have to climb to get up to the slide entry, which allows them to develop their leg muscles and practice coordinated climbing. However, as they go down the slide itself, children must be aware of and coordinate their entire body in order to slide down in a controlled manner.

Riding Animals

Ideal for both indoor and outdoor playsystems, riding animals are a fun way to stimulate a child’s imagination as well as their gross motor development. Children must strengthen and control their core muscles to maintain balance on the riding animal, and must additionally control their limbs and movements in order to make the animal rock back and forth.

As an added bonus, riding animals can be created in a wide variety of shapes and colours, making them an easy way to give your playground a unique feature. At SPI Plastics, we have an in-house rotational molding department that can help bring customized creations to life.

SPI: Providing High-Quality Indoor & Outdoor Playsystems

Since 1972, SPI has been designing, creating, and delivering high-quality playground components to playsystems all around the world. No matter whether you’re designing an outdoor playground or an indoor cube system, we’ve got the components you need to make your play space unforgettable for your young visitors.

If you’d like to learn more about obtaining plastic climbers or other components for your playsystem, give us a call at (519) 935-2211. You can also send us a message online.

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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