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We explain how to build your own jungle gym. Those going this route, as opposed to buying a pre-designed and pre made jungle gym, should have a basic knowledge of construction. We give basic instructions how to design and create a jungle gym, but the specific construction will depend upon your design and components as well as available tools.
The most popular kids in the neighbourhood were always the ones who were lucky enough to have a jungle gym in their backyard. The bigger, the better. You didn’t have to go all the way to the park, but rather congregate in your friend’s yard and take turns climbing, swinging, sliding and generally monkeying around.
Back then there was television but there was no internet or computers really. It was a simpler time, one in which a parent could pretty easily convince their kid to get outside for some fresh air. You’d wake up waiting for your friends to come knocking on your door during the beautiful summer months when you didn’t have to go to school or be anywhere at all, really.
Each generation argues that times were simpler when they were kids and that “kids these days” are spoiled and have it all. At least, this has generally been the mentality since at least the 1950s when children were allowed to have childhoods instead of being employed on the farm or elsewhere.
But now, in the year 2018, there are so many technological trappings that could keep a kid indoors endlessly: video game consoles, the internet and computers, cell phones with games and apps and contact with friends (we don’t think kids under the age of 15 should have cell phones, but far be it from us to place judgment or tell parents what to do), as well as the increasing levels of depression and anxiety spread amongst people at younger and younger ages.
Even children under the ages of 9 are equipped with cell phones and most likely certainly have a computer at home. These technological pieces of fun are all very enticing and strong enough to keep someone inside for days on end. And since the screens are backlit, kids are ever looking into a light source and being stimulated by all kinds of wild movement and complicated design.
This amount of light and activity can hook a person into a never ending cycle of catch and release. Especially on summer days, players will close the blinds to block out sunlight and get lost in their backlit screens. It can be difficult to encourage your little one to get outside and exercise. This will seem wholly unappealing to them especially if they have a video game or television show waiting for them indoors.
However, a very easy way to convince your kid to get outside will be to install their very own jungle gym or play area in the backyard. if they have something fun to do outside, they will of course indulge you and go outside and, hopefully, give you an afternoon to yourself of peace and quiet while they take out all their energy building, climbing and swinging around.
Jungle gyms are found in parks and schoolyards universally and this is for very good reason. It all makes perfect sense, of course: children love to explore. It is part of their natural curiosities that stem from growing brains and accumulated experiences.
A jungle gym is a structure with several attachments offering different methods of play, which enables several kids to play at once, while providing a shelter they can manipulate into their own environment. For example, they may use a jungle gym to play house, restaurant, pirates, castle, or any number of games.
We understand that it may seem daunting to put together a jungle gym of your own design, as it takes some money, imagination of your own and construction skill. However, with this article we will tell you how to build your own jungle gym so you can get your kid outside and physically active.
It is very important to a child’s physical and emotional wellbeing to get fresh air and exercise. Physical activity will strengthen their muscles and burn off excess energy. It keeps them active and engages their imaginations. All they need is equipment and a fair amount of time to indulge in these activities.
However, the cost of the materials may be equal to the amount you would otherwise spend on video games, a new computer, and any other necessary equipment (cell phones, cameras, etc.). a jungle gym or outdoor playground is timeless and once built, will last for decades. You will not have to replace anything, unlike technology, which is designed to deteriorate after a period of time and requires all kinds of updates and new pieces of equipment.
A jungle gym will inherently attract other kids and this will be easy for your little one to invite friends over. Also it will be easy on you as the parent in charge of entertaining all of those kids! And when you feel like it, you can even join in. studies show that children are more likely to get physically active if they witness parents or guardian/authority figures engaging in physical exercise.
Step One: Surface Area
Look at the size of your backyard or wherever you are putting the swing set. Factor in the area you have to work with when considering the layout. Make sure there is room for everything and remember to double and then triple check. When calculating the area of land you’ll need, make sure to consider at least three extra feet on all sides for playing.
There all several clever ways to work with a small area of land. Simply build up rather than across. There can be two or three storeys with platforms that offer different games like a steering wheel or a twisty slide. You can also put a sand pit at the bottom.
Step Two: Selecting Components & Design
It may be helpful to ask your child’s input on this, or at least factor in their interests. You will be familiar with what they like to do outside. Do they like to climb? Do they show a fear of heights? Do they enjoy interactive games like tic-tac-toe? Who are their idols at this point? Are they fascinated by pirates or flying airplanes? Keep in mind of course that children’s interests will change with time, so there are some guidelines you should follow:
You should be sure to include a shelter so they will be able to seek refuge from the sun without having to go inside the house. The shelter will have a roof and two or three walls. There will need to be a ladder going to the shelter, from which you will want to attach a slide. Slides are undeniable and I have never met a kid who didn’t like to slide. Nor an adult, for that matter.
You must consider the weatherproof qualities of the materials you choose. Using PVC or Sunbrella fabric for a canopy shelter. Pressure treated lumber like cedar will look beautiful and repel mosquitoes.
You can add all kinds of extra components like nets, rope ladders, swings, hoops or monkey bars.
A good jungle gym design exercises both the body and mind. Provide physical challenges like climbing. Monkey bars will build upper body strength while swinging will exercise the whole body. There should also be parts to engage the mind and imagination.
You can keep it rustic and affordable by using rough pieces of wood for the walls or simple rope netting as a place for them to climb.
Step three: Materials & Construction
Look at some examples in the neighbourhood and online for how to construct the playground.
You will need these basics:
- metal wood brackets
- swing frame brackets
- wood screws
- power drill
- deck boards
- playground sand
- pressure treated lumber
As with any deck that is higher than 12” off the ground, you will first need to set posts in concrete. You will want to use sono tubes for these support posts. Sono tubes ensure safety and security as they are extremely thick and durable cardboard tubes set several feet in the ground.
They are then filled with concrete and the post is braced inside. Make sure the posts are tall enough to set 3 feet into the ground, and then accommodate platforms and walls as well as a roof.
It may be wise to contact a contractor or professional deck builder who will have access to all the right tools as well as knowledge about wood construction including support areas and appropriate railings.
Since it is a jungle gym and not a deck, you will not have to get a permit from the city, but it is useful to talk with a professional so you can be sure of what you are doing.
Since you will have some construction knowledge, you will have drawn a design for yourself including how many 2x4s to use. After the posts have set (after 48 hours the cement will have cured to concrete and you can build), you will assemble the frame using 2×6 boards equally spaced.
Secure these to the posts. You will now attach the swing beam if applicable and its A-shaped frame with a swing frame bracket that will hold the legs together. Then lay 2x4s, flat and tight to each other, for the floor. They will be perpendicular to the frame boards.
You will then construct the walls leaving spaces for doorways, ladders and slides.
The hardest part is building the frame. Once this is complete you can then attach the swings, slides and any other components (roof, steering wheel, metal monkey bars).