What Is A Play Structure & What Are The Benefits?

A play structure is a fun and safe outdoor playground for older children, ages 5 and up. A variety of climbing accessories help kids develop balance and coordination, as well as enjoy being outdoors with friends.

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Many adults are able to remember their school recess times with fondness. The opportunities you had back then as a child to leave the constraints of your classroom behind and set out for another playground adventure are memories that you’ll cherish forever.

However, kids nowadays won’t understand that. Today’s kids are overwhelmed with an abundance of activities and fewer opportunities to enjoy outside play. These include loads of homework, parent-organized sports, pervasive video games, and an increasing focus on academics.

But this can change if you introduce them to a play structure. Rean on to learn everything you need to know about a play structure.

What Is a Play Structure

A play structure is a structure for children to play on that is often found in parks, schools, playgrounds, or children’s bedrooms. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all have one common goal; to provide fun and enjoyment for children.

Types of Play Structures

There are many different types of play structures, but the most common are slides, swings, monkey bars, and climbing structures.


Slides are one of the most popular types of play structures. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes and can be made from different materials, such as plastic, metal, or even wood. There are different features that describe slides. These include open and tube slides.

Tube slides are enclosed all the way around, while open slides let kids or playful adults feel the wind in their hair. There are also straight and curved slides. An ordinary straight slide is fun by itself, also, adding curvature can take things to the next level.

A boy sliding on a slide.
Slides come in a variety of sizes and shapes and can be made from different materials, such as plastic, metal, or even wood.

Curved slides come in L and S shapes, as well as spirals that are measured by angle. A 360 degrees see kids making one full revolution before they hit the bottom. 

There are also components and free-standing slides. You can purchase slides as additional components for an existing play structure, or you can get the free-standing feature with their own stairs.

Monkey Bars

Monkey bars are another type of play structure that is popular with children. They are typically made from metal or plastic and come in a variety of sizes and shapes. They’re horizontal ladders suspended above the ground by upright poles.

Monkey bars allow kids to hop up and swing from bar to bar, much like a chimpanzee. While monkeys are still loved today and are found in most playgrounds, the original design has been updated and altered in so many ways, so it’s not just a horizontal ladder.

Climbing Structures

Climbing structures come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and materials. They can be simple or complex, free-standing or attached to another structure.

Some climbing structures are made for younger children with shorter ladders and smaller steps. Others are made for older children and adults with higher ladders, steeper stairs, and more challenging routes.

A boy climbing.
Some climbing structures are made for younger children with shorter ladders and smaller steps.

Climbing structures can be made from wood, metal, plastic, or rope. Many are a combination of materials. Some climbing structures are designed for indoor use, while others are made for outdoor use. Outdoor climbing structures are often made from weather-resistant materials such as aluminum or stainless steel.

Merry Go Round

The merry-go-round is a spinning device consisting of a horizontal platform with several seats or benches attached. It rotates around a central point, driven by either electricity or people pushing it.

Merry-go-rounds are often found in amusement parks, carnivals, and playgrounds. They are also used in therapy for children with disabilities. Merry go rounds allow kids to hop on and spin around as quickly as they can by pushing against the ground to develop momentum.

What are the Benefits of a Play Structure?

There are many benefits to having a play structure in your backyard. Here are some of those benefits in detail:

Nurtures Brain Development

Free play is a major factor when it comes to neurological development. When children are allowed to explore and play on their own, they are constantly making new connections in their brains. This helps with problem-solving skills, memory, and critical thinking.

Encourages Social Interaction

Play structures provide a great opportunity for children to interact and socialize with other kids. They learn how to share, take turns, and cooperate with one another. This is an important skill to have, as it will help them later on in life.

Kids having fun at merry go round.
Kids will learn how to share, take turns, and cooperate with one another.

Builds Muscle Strength

Climbing, hanging, and swinging are all great exercises for kids. They help to build muscle strength and coordination. This is especially important for younger children, as they are still developing these skills.

Play Structure Encourages a Healthy Lifestyle

A play structure is a great way to encourage kids to be active and lead a healthy lifestyle. It gets them away from screens and encourages them to get outside and move around. Playing also helps lessen the risk of obesity, stimulate brain activity and improve the circulation of water, oxygen, and glucose to the brain.

It Helps Build Self Esteem

Playing in a play structure can also help build self-esteem. It gives kids a sense of accomplishment when they can complete something, whether going down the slide or swinging across the monkey bars. This is especially important for children who might not excel in other areas, such as academics or sports.

A boy playing on a monkey bar.
It gives kids a sense of accomplishment when they can complete something, whether going down the slide or swinging across the monkey bars.

Offer Relaxation

For some children, playing on a play structure can be a form of relaxation. It’s a way to release energy and tension in a safe and controlled environment. When your child seems distressed, taking them outside in a play structure may help them to calm down and relax.

It’s a Great Workout

Running, climbing, and jumping are all great ways to get some exercise. And what better way to do it than in a fun and stimulating environment? Play structures provide an excellent opportunity for kids to burn off some energy and get their bodies moving.

Promotes Imagination and Creativity

Playing on a play structure encourages children to use their imagination. They can pretend to be anyone or anything they want and explore different worlds and scenarios. This type of imaginative play is important for cognitive and social development.

Brain and Skill Development

Running, climbing, and swinging all require coordination and motor skills. Playing in a play structure helps kids develop these important skills. Additionally, problem-solving is often required to figure out how to get from one point to another on the structure. This can help improve critical thinking skills.

Play also helps children develop language and reasoning skills, encourages autonomous thinking and problem solving, as well as improves the ability to focus and control behavior. Play aids children in learning discovery and developing verbal and manipulative skills, judgment, reasoning, and creativity.

Play Structure Encourages Inclusion

Inclusive play is when all children can join in the fun together, regardless of ability. This is important because it helps children to develop a sense of belonging and community. It also helps to break down barriers between children of different abilities. When kids play together, they learn to cooperate and respect each other.

Helps Kids to Get Away from Technology

In today’s world, it’s hard to get kids away from technology. But it’s important for them to have unplugged time to play. When kids are playing, they are using their imaginations and being creative. They are also getting fresh air and exercise.

Instead of children spending most of their time indoors watching videos and playing video games, outdoor play gives them a chance to explore and use their imaginations. Getting away from these screens will help children’s brains develop in a more well-rounded way.

Facilitates Group Interaction and Socializing

When children are outside playing, they are more likely to interact with other kids. This is important for their social development. They learn how to share, take turns, and cooperate with others. These are skills that they will use throughout their lives.

Kids playing on a jumping rope.
Kids will learn how to share, take turns, and cooperate with others.

It’s also a great way for kids to make friends. When they’re playing together, they’re bound to find other kids with similar interests.

Related Questions

What are the social development benefits of a play structure?

One of the key social benefits of a play structure is that it helps children learn how to share, take turns, and cooperate with others. These are skills that they will use throughout their lives. Additionally, play structures provide an opportunity for kids to make friends and find other kids with similar interests.

How does play benefit a child’s cognitive development?

Children at play are solving problems, creating, experimenting, thinking, and learning all the time. Spending time playing with your child is good for their cognitive development because playing together builds your relationship and sends the message that learning is fun.

Final Thought

Play structures are beneficial to children for many reasons. They help with cognitive development, social skills, and physical activity. When choosing a play structure for your child, make sure to consider their age and interests. A play structure should be safe and durable so that your child can enjoy it for years to come.

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