Daddy Days: the word on the playgrounds


I recently took the boys on a tour of the Pflugerville playgrounds. I learned a lot and wanted to share.

First of all, a basic principle for children and playgrounds: new is always better – at the beginning. You could have an entire amusement park in your backyard, but a month later if the city put a 3-foot plastic slide in one of those little turtle-shaped sandboxes, the kids will be clamoring for more. go to the “new park”.

This means that it takes time to assess what playground equipment will actually interest a child in the long run.

From my observations, this ends up being the simplest playground device. Swings, swings, slides, tunnels and jungle gyms are classics that will be revisited again and again. Yes the new double helix climber plays well (based on principle # 1) but the simpler ones do last. Swings never go out of style.

Caleb harris

That’s not to say that there isn’t cool or innovative gear that goes well with kids.

The “spinning globe thing” at Wilbarger Creek Park is pretty awesome. It’s the closest thing I’ve seen to a merry-go-round in a public park in over a decade.

Imagine a jungle gym, shaped like a sphere, resting on a rotating platform. Now imagine three of my boys running around the globe holding one hand to make it spin, then climb up and enter the spinning globe. Now imagine a boy who is holding both hands but cannot get up so that his legs click like a weather sock as the merry-go-round globe spins. The boys love it.

Creekside Park has a periscope on one of the structures and earns points for its uniqueness. That’s another principle though: many parks benefit from a single item that no one actually plays with for more than five seconds. It’s “can we go to the park with the periscope?” And when we do, a few boys take a quick peek through the periscope, are disappointed that they aren’t suddenly in a real submarine, and move on. Playgrounds with tic-tac-toe boards are the same way.

Boys often name a park based on its main feature. There are a handful of parks with such distinctive names created by the boys that I can’t remember their real names. One park has blue springboard-like structures that the boys say look like hot dogs, so they call it the Blue Hot Dog Park.

Another park has the tallest slide I know of in town, but since we happened to stumble upon the park the first time we went, and since it is nestled against a wooded area at the end of an ass The boys nicknamed it Secret Park.

One of the biggest discoveries when visiting the playgrounds was not about the play structures themselves. It’s that even the most timeless playground equipment doesn’t hold up to a natural environment where kids can climb, explore, or wander.

Basically, the usefulness of playgrounds is outdated, but the natural landscape never is. The grounds adjacent to a playground are more important than the playground itself. Limestone rocks along the stream, a wooded area next to the playground, the fields behind, the stream which crosses it, all these natural “playgrounds” offer games without age limit. Well, at least not an upper age limit.

So if you want to distract them, take them to a new park. If you want to attract a wide range of children on a regular basis, take them to a park with simple, classic equipment. But if you want the best of both worlds, find a playground in an explorable area and let them roam.

Harris and his wife live in Pflugerville with their six sons. Please send your comments or suggestions for future columns to [email protected]

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