Playground swings have been around for centuries. With this outdoor play equipment becoming safer and with modernized designs there are many options now available.
In this article we’ll cover each type –from frames to seats– this is your ultimate guide to playground swings.
Why are playground swings important? Swings have evolved over the decades. And like other forms of play equipment, these have become an integral part of childhood development. In fact, the use of playground equipment is no longer limited to kids’ recess since teachers -like my wife- include them in the school curriculum.
School children need access to playground equipment to grow physically as well as mentally. Playing and swinging helps them to exercise, relax and settle down in between classroom instructions and on weekends.
Swinging and balancing promote body strength as well as spatial awareness. Swings also boost a youngster’s balance and coordination.
Next, we will be discussing the different types of playground swing frames in detail.
Different Types of Swing Frames
There are many different types of playground swing frames available on the market today, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Installing an in-ground frame will require a little work, but will ensure the structure never flips over.
Free-standing frames are more ideal for backyard playgrounds as there is no digging or concrete involved.
Free-Standing Swing Frames
By using a free-standing swing frame, no digging or concrete is needed because the structure stands freely on the ground.
It is important to use ground anchors with these types of playground swing frames, as this will ensure the frame doesn’t flip over or move– making it safe.
The twist-in ground anchor is specifically made for anchoring the frame directly onto your yard. These anchors can stand all soil conditions and offer tremendous stability.
- Bipod Frame – The bipod frame uses 2 posts on each end for support. The two posts form a “/\” shape, which is why the bipod is typically referred to as an “A-Frame”. Can be constructed of either metal or wood.
- Tripod Frame – Tripod frames us 3 posts on each end for support “/|\” and are better for multiple swings, as this frame can support more weight. It can be constructed of either metal or wood.
In-Ground Swing Frames
This type of playground swing is cemented into the ground and usually found in public playgrounds and commercial facilities. Yet, this model can still be used at home for a more permanent and robust structure.
These frames are normally made of metal posts (although wood can be used in some frame types) and will sometimes have steel plates attached to the top corners for additional support.
They come in all frame types that the free-standing swings do, but here are some playground swings frames specifically for in-ground.
- T-Post – A single-pole (or wooden post) cemented into the ground with another pole centered horizontally on top forming a “T” shape.
- Arch Post – A curved metal arch supports each end of this swing frame.
- Single Pole – A single metal pole (or wooden post) supports each end of this swing frame.
Different Types of Swing Seats
Playground swing seats have also progressed since the first swing was conceived in ancient Greece as early as 1450 BC, according to history. This was the primitive swing made of wood and rope that was suspended from a tree.
Today, the seats are well-designed and some have elaborate fixtures for more movement and safety.
Tire Swing Seat
This swing seat is an actual motor vehicle tire with a strong rope or chain tied to the tire and hanging from a tree or other solid structure. It is usually seen in backyards and exudes traditional home appeal.
You can make your own or buy a pre-made tire swing.
Bucket Swing Seat
The bucket swing seat is considered the most reliable type for children. Holes found at the base fit securely into the child’s legs and provides enough support for sitting. The bucket secures the waist so the child does not overturn while swinging. However, parents need to help their children get in and out of this model.
Half-Bucket Swing Seat
The half-bucket is similar to the bucket seat. The half-bucket seat often comes with a safety chain across the front part to keep toddlers safe. Aside from the protection, they have more freedom to move, unlike the full bucket model. It still prevents children from falling out of their seats. The chain usually has a plastic pad for comfort so they don’t feel hampered.
Disc Rope Swing Seat
The small swing does not take too much space. It is ideal for small backyards and play areas. This model can hang from a strong tree or small sturdy base. Children can even stand on the disc and swing while standing. It is a guaranteed space saver but parents must always consider the safety of their kiddos.
Flat Swing Seat
The flat swing is not as commonplace as the bucket or sling types. However, some parents choose this model since the child can sit comfortably while swinging. There are children who want the robust feel of the flat swing and find it easier to balance on the seat.
Glider Swing Seat
The glider seat regulates swinging so children do not swing too high or fast. This kind of seat even allows two kids to swing simultaneously. Glider seats must be solidly built so movement is effortless and moderate. Gliders also cannot swing as fast as other models. The glider swing seat is ideal for younger children.
Swings for Toddlers
The swinging and rocking movement is soothing for toddlers and even helps to develop essential motor skills (read our article titled “Playground Equipment and Child Development – Equipment Guide” for excellent information on this).
Toddler swings have been designed to hold the little ones. It normally uses a kind of bucket seat or “pod” that makes it comfortable for the child to sit than the conventional swing seat. These toddler swings are made for both indoor and outdoor use.
Other Types of Swings
Swings aren’t merely for sitting. These have been made so kids can swing, rock and glide for fun. Children can glide back and forth and soar as high as possible. Variations make swinging more exciting!
Trapeze Bar Swing
The Trapeze Bar Swing is meant for outdoor use and constructed with a resilient swing bar, durable rings, and long-lasting chains. Children can fortify the upper body and leg strength while swinging. The trapeze bars can come with or minus the triangle bars.
Climbing Rope Swing
The Climbing Rope Swing is another novelty. The swing set can be a rope swing, tree-climbing rope or climbing rope ladder.
A cool swing that can be hung from a tree or existing swing set. Will usually hold more than one child, but are available in smaller sizes for just one child.
Final Thoughts and Considerations
Swings have always been a key piece of playground equipment that ensures fun and physical exercise for toddlers and kids of all ages.
It is up to parents to choose and suggest the right models and features for their children- and luckily there are many options available. Remember to stay safe and have fun!