Invent new playground equipment!

When I want to create new types of something, one of my favorite approaches is just to add a random noun to the idea I want to create and see what I come up with.

Here are some new types of playground equipment and activities I have come up with.  See if you can invent new playground equipment.  Post your ideas in the comments section.  You might change the way children play forever!


bag–Bag swing.  Bag has a zipper entrance.  Unzip the entrance, climb in, zip it back up, people push you. (Of course you need to be able to breathe, and get yourself out if you need to.)

bicycle–A bicycle built for several that goes along a circular track.  Kids get on, peddle, see how fast they can get the bicycle going.  (Can’t go too fast for safety’s sake.)

birdcage–What’s it like being in a zoo?  Several zoo habitats where the kids climb in and are the animals.  Other kids can pretend to be the spectators.

castle–A smaller replica of any famous castle or other building for kids to climb and play in.

caterpillar–Caterpillar body pieces, kids climb in them, stick their feet out to walk, hook up with the end of the caterpillar.  Have to follow the head.


Tell your creative friends about this blog.  Teachers and parents, I would love to see what your kids could come up with.

Subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss any fun challenges, or creative ideas that might help you in some way.

And if you have a creative challenge you would like to present, send it to me! I would love to tackle along with everyone else.

Over time, I will also talk a lot about the creative process. I guarantee that following this blog will make you a more creative person.



  1. Diana Larsen said,

    April 19, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Giant lincoln logs- light enough that a child can lift them and use them to build a cabin or a tower or whatever!

    • rockcanyon said,

      April 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      We actually planned to do something like that at one time. Bought a plat of cedar logs normally used for landscaping–were going to notch them and use them as giant lincoln logs. Never got around to it. But I think it’s a great idea. With liability, though, if it were at a public playground, they would probably need to be made of lightweight plastic so when that cabin caved in, kids wouldn’t be crushed.

      • rockcanyon said,

        April 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm

        Along those same lines, wouldn’t giant Legos be a riot? Big enough to build fullsized buildings? at least fullsized for kids? And if you also had all the wheels and gears and other accessories available–wow, what a creative playground that would turn into!

        It might be fun to look at all the toys kids play with and imagine what they would be like if they were full-sized….

  2. Kareen Thornock said,

    April 19, 2012 at 9:14 am

    This is an awesome challenge, Rick! My kindergartener brought home a project made of construction paper not too long ago. I was very interested to hear what it was. I’d seen many children leaving the school with these brightly colored paper things. They all seemed to have a lot of shapes coming off the base paper. My daughter told me that they had each created their own playground! They cut their construction paper into strips, and then folded, curled, and wove their strips into models of playground equipment I’d never before seen. A lot of glue was used, too. We had fun making more of these structures at home. I never did name my equipment, though. . . back to the drawing board!

    • rockcanyon said,

      April 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      I think it’s important to teach kids to be creative, and help them to think that it’s possible. There are a lot of problems and challenges in the world that are going to require creative solutions. And today’s kids are going to have to find them.

  3. April 19, 2012 at 10:01 am

    My grandkids love to twirl. How about a spinner that moved the direction the child leaned. The more the child leaned, the faster it would go.

    Swings that go around (like a tether ball) rather than back and forth.

    • rockcanyon said,

      April 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      Sound like playground versions of amusement park rides! Fun ideas. Another model to consider–amusement ride concepts adapted to the public or home playground.

  4. Jay Fontano said,

    April 19, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Brilliant- I hope they’re big enough for big kids like me to play. I’d like a gigantic teeter-totter like floor that people control by walking to different positions to change the weight/balance of it. You could put holes and try to move a ball into the hole.

    • rockcanyon said,

      April 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      I definitely think that playgrounds should be for adults also! In fact, maybe that’s an entirely new concept–all of the traditional equipment for kids, except designed for adult-sized human beings.

  5. rockcanyon said,

    April 21, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Here are a few more ideas–some better than others…

    airplane–Tall, tall swing frame, swing in the shape of an airplane, holds four, can be pushed very high

    animal–climbing apparatus in the shape of animals, climb in the elephant, slide down his truck. Climb up the giraffe, slide down a rope from his nose. Frame of a whale you climb on.

    arrow–Climb up on a platform, A bow is stationed there, from it you shoot an arrow on a rope hanging from a tall pole between that platform and another platform where there’s a target circle. Try to get the arrow into the target circle.

    art–Giant puzzle, like one of those puzzles with fifteen squares in a four-by-four grid, you have to un-mix the puzzle. Anyway, a much bigger grid. Squares with different colors. Lots more than one free space. You move the squares around to create a work of art.

    ball–Swing–rope is hooked to the outside on a swivel that goes on a track around the outside of the ball. Climb into the ball. Close the door. Brace yourself (maybe straps to keep you in.) Someone pushes you. Ball goes back and forth, rotates along the track, and spins with the swivel.

    band–Lots of stationary noise makers kids can use to make instruments. They can have a manual option, or a mechanical option–kids press a button, the instruments play a wacky song.

    barn–Bouncing animals on a track. Track can be in a circle, or can have branches and go in many directions. Whenever you bounce on the animal it moves forward a bit. The faster you bounce, the faster it moves.

    basket–Tall frame, basket on a rope. A kid gets in the basket, other kids, or the kid himself, pull on a rope attached to a pulley that raises the kid up. A protective system keeps the basket from dropping too quickly if the rope is released.

    bathroom–Large pretend bathroom, with pipes wide enough for kids to crawl through. Helps them understand the water and sewage process. And they can play in the sink, the tub, the toilet.

    bead–Giant beads kids put together into giant necklaces.
    beard–From a platform hang a thousand ropes, like a beard. Kids run in them, hide in them, play in them.

    bell–Like the playground band, only bells with various notes, so kids can ring bells to play a song. Or there’s an automatic option that plays songs on the bells.

    bicycle–other variation–instead of track and bicycle, peddle cars, peddle train, or a variety of the above.

    bicycle–variation–track but several one-person bicycles, kind of like the hopping animals.

    pool playground–Frames over a pool allow climbing over the pool, swing over and into the pool, sliding into the pool, etc. No poles underwater for safety’s sake.

    basketball–Basketball target course. A series of hoops and rings. [Have to throw through the hoop or ring from a certain spot, retrieve the ball, and go to the next. Goal is to see how few shots it takes you to get through the course.

    blackboard–Giant etch-a-sketch. Vertical. Large magnets hang from ropes so they won’t walk off. Kids create designs.

    boot–Playhouse built like the shoe in There Was an Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe.

    bottle–Large bottle that kids can climb in, connectible pieces of stuff to build something in the bottle, a giant ship in a bottle. Maybe pieces of a ship.

    box–A big bin where companies can throw their empty boxes, and kids can jump around in the boxes.

    bracelet–(A rotating circular thing with handles hanging down, kids jump up and grab the handles, and ride around as though they’re bracelet pendants. Maybe through the center of the circle is a giant hand.

    branch–A big, fat artificial tree, with ropes and ladders, things to help kids climb in it, but barriers to keep kids safe. Maybe you go up in the tree.

    butterfly–large wings, hanging from rope on track that goes around–kid puts the wings on, flaps and flies

    camel–Animals that move in the same motion as when they walk. You can ride a camel, an elephant, an ostrich, a giraffe, etc.

    camera–Large frame, kids get in it and pretend to be a photograph.
    cannon–An air cannon that shoots large Nerf balls out for people to catch.

    chair–Giant furniture for kids to climb on.

    checkers–Giant checkerboard, checkers large enough that two kids have to lift them, one on each side. Need four kids to play the game.

    cheese–Swiss cheese jungle gym, lots of holes to climb in and slide on. An occasional mouse pokes its head out.
    chimney–Play Santa Claus–an artificial North Pole, a sleigh to play on and pretend you’re flying, and some chimney’s to slide down.

    circus–A high wire with safety ropes, child is attached to the safety ropes, then walks across the high wire.

    monster–Large monster, you go in the monster’s mouth, get eaten, go into its belly, see how the belly works, go through the intestines, and out the end. A lesson on digestion.

    monuments–Smaller, mass-produced replicas of national

    monuments–the Statue of Liberty, the St. Louis arch, Mt. Rushmore, etc, for kids to pretend that they’re in.

    classroom–Playground set out in the shape of a classroom–walls to climb on, lights to swing from, doors to swing on, desks to stand on.

    clown–Clown shaped things–funny cars, etc.

    cradle–Big cradle swing–shaped lock a rocking cradle, ladder to climb into it, then kids push back and forth from inside to get it rocking, or maybe pull on ropes to get it moving.

    dance–harnesses on bungees, kids put them on and bounce and dance.

    desert–A pretend desert, turtles to climb on, pretend cacti to climb on, the needles being rods you can step on, etc.

    drum–Like the bells, or band, but with lots of drums kids can pound on.

    dungeon–a pretend dungeon with pretend torture devices, that simulate torture but don’t actually hurt anyone.

    fisherman–Catch and release–a big square, crane type fishing poles attached to an upper deck around the square, hook on line, lots of funny things in the middle, the “pool”, for kids to hook and pull up.

    glasses–Funny glasses or lenses that kids can look through to make everything look different. Stationery lenses.

    globe–Climbing toy in the shape of the globe of the world, with all the countries, kids can climb on it.

    guitar–Large wall with strings that can be plucked to make sounds.
    [map–Playground map of famous citizens, countries, buildings, etc.

    hill–Large hill for kids to climb on, roll down

    island–Several islands to hop from, curbs to balance on, just a lot of things to hop from and balance on.

    mountain–climbing hills in the shape of famous mountains and mountain range

    mud–a giant mud playground, kids put on swim suits, get in, throw mud, roll in mud, have fun in mud–a shower room to wash off all the mud before you go out

    museum–sculptures you can climb on

    parachute–strap on the harness, a rope pulls you off, let go, you float down–has a safety control to keep you from falling too fast.

    phone–Lots of phones with direct lines to other phones in the playground, kids can talk to each other, or to everyone.

    pillow–Like a ball play place, but with pillows. Not enough to smother you, but enough for a really good pillow fight. Foam, not feather pillows.

    planet–One of those solar system orbiting toys, sun in the middle. You push mercury and the rest of the planets move at appropriate speeds. Each planet farther out is connected to the sun by a bar that goes up and over the inside planets.

    puzzle–huge puzzles for kids to put together

    roller skate–Harnesses attached to ropes on swivels on tracks about your head, goes around. You put on roller skates, or roller blades, or ice skates, depending on the location, and skate without falling over

    ruler–Measure land–all sorts of measuring devices to help you measure, weigh anything you want
    Ski harness–Harness on a track going above a slope let you ski without falling over.

    bank–Sand bank, in sand pile. You put sand in, and get sand out. Put it in with a bucket/pulley system. Get it out from a rope. Can fall on your head. (Not so much sand though that it would bury a kid.)

    beach–Equipment at a safe beach that’s set out far enough to be over water.

  6. April 22, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Being a music lover of sorts, I like the idea of musical instruments of all kinds that the kids could play & march around with in “Follow the Leader” fashion.

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