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The Best Playground Equipment for Schools (and Where To Buy It)


It’s hard to imagine an elementary school without a playground! Swings, slides, monkey bars … playground equipment for schools pretty much looked the same for a long time. These days, though, there are so many fun options. We’ve rounded up our favorite playground must-haves, along with advice on where to buy them—and how to afford them.

Playground Equipment Suppliers

Wondering where to buy outdoor playground equipment for schools? Here are some of the top suppliers, known for their quality and commitment to safety. Some offer complete playground design and installation, while others simply supply the equipment you need. Choose the one that’s right for your school.

Grants for Playground Equipment

There’s no doubt about it: Playground equipment is pricey. Whether you want to add a piece of equipment or build a whole new play space, you’re looking at thousands of dollars, minimum. If your school doesn’t have those kinds of funds available, no worries! There are a lot of playground equipment grants out there.

Many playground equipment suppliers are happy to help you find the grant funding you need. They often have experts to help you, so be sure to ask up front. You can also check out lists of playground grants, like the one found here from Peaceful Playgrounds. (Need to raise the money yourself? Take a look at 40+ Unique and Effective Fundraising Ideas for Schools.)

Finding Affordable Playground Equipment

Source: Playworld

Once you’ve got your funding secured, you’re going to want to make the most of it by finding affordable playground equipment. You might consider used playground equipment, but remember that anything more than a few years old can have some real health and safety risks. Research the potential purchase heavily, and ask playground professionals for advice before buying.

Ultimately, you might find it makes more sense to purchase new and affordable playground equipment that fits your budget. The best way to do that is to truly understand your needs. Consider these questions:

  • How many children can safely play on/with the equipment at once? Weigh that against the overall cost.
  • Do your choices meet the needs of all students? Be sure to consider inclusive and accessible options.
  • What age groups will the equipment appeal to? If your school has limited ages, like a preschool or upper elementary, your playground equipment can be narrower in scope. But a K-5 school will need items that little ones and older students will enjoy.
  • How can you make the best use of your space? Do you have room for spaced-out individual elements like swing sets, slides, and basketball hoops? Or do you need an all-in-one unit that offers lots of choice in a smaller space?
  • Will the changing seasons affect potential play? Kids bundled up in heavy coats and mittens will interact differently with some play equipment, especially climbing items. Avoid items that might sit idle (or even be unsafe) during certain times of year.
  • Consider maintenance needs. Some equipment should be regularly checked for loose bolts, weak chains, etc. How will you handle that? Be sure to figure that into your cost analysis.

Best Playground Equipment for Schools

Let’s get to the good stuff—the actual playground equipment you need! These are some of our favorite choices, in a variety of price ranges. We’ve also included inclusive playground equipment that every kid can use. It’s time to make your recess dreams a reality!

Gaga Ball Pit

Kids playing gaga ball at recess.

Source: The Newport Daily News

Gaga ball has been sweeping the nation, providing a fun and active game that most kids can play and enjoy. Learn everything you need to know about gaga ball pits here, including how to build or buy one.

Craggy Horn

Blue climbing wall with curved ladder attachments (Playground Equipment for Schools)

Climbing walls have been incredibly popular on playgrounds. This one is big enough for lots of kids to play on at once, with a variety of climbing elements.

Buy it: Craggy Horn

Bell Panel

Student in a wheelchair playing with the bells on a vertical panel (playground equipment for schools)

Panel systems allow you to customize the play experience and make it fully inclusive. This bell panel adds a sensory musical element to your playground.

Buy it: Bell Panel

Disc Swing

Children playing on a disc swing on a playground (Best Playground Equipment for Schools)

Regular swing sets are always a hit, but the disc swing lets up to four kids get in on the fun together. This is the kind of swing students will line up to take turns on!

Buy it: Disc Swing

Super Geo Dome Climber

Children playing on a geodesic climbing done (Best Playground Equipment for Schools)

This one’s a classic for a reason. Lots of kids can play on it at once, swinging, climbing, hiding out, and more.

Buy it: Super Geo Dome Climber

Wheelchair-Accessible Merry-Go-Round

Playground merry-go-round spinning toy with wheelchair accessible sections

Merry-go-rounds have been popular spinning playground equipment choices for decades, but not all kids have been able to use them. An option like this can be enjoyed by those in wheelchairs too, extending the fun to everyone.

Buy it: Wheelchair-Accessible Merry-Go-Round

Bumbling Betsy Fun Bounce

Two preschoolers sitting on a spring toy shaped like a yellow caterpillar (Best Playground Equipment for Schools)

Spring toys are terrific for imagination-fueled adventures, as well as burning off some excess energy. This cute caterpillar-themed model holds two riders at once, giving you more bang for your buck.

Buy it: Bumbling Betsy Fun Bounce

Rockwell Teeter Quad

Four-person teeter totter in green and beige

Teeter-totters are another one of those classic playground items and an eternal favorite. This one seats four kids at once for double the fun.

Buy it: Rockwell Teeter Quad

Timber Stacks

Children climbing on playground equipment build from natural logs and rope (Best Playground Equipment for Schools)

When you want your playground to feel more like climbing in the wild, consider Timber Stacks. Their natural playground equipment is made of logs, rope, and other simple elements. Combine the different modules to create a structure that suits your space.

Buy it: Timber Stacks

Multi-Spring Shuttle

Space shuttle themed playground structure mounted to the ground on springs

Blast off! The spring shuttle accommodates multiple climbers at once, and the spring mount adds to the fun.

Buy it: Multi-Spring Shuttle

Concerto Vibes

Children playing with an outdoor oversized xylophone

Musical playground equipment is another non-traditional option that provides an experience all kids can enjoy. The Concerto Vibes xylophone is part of a full suite of musical inclusive playground equipment available from Playworld, which also includes chimes, drums, and more.

Buy it: Concerto Vibes

Air Above Play System

Four-sided set of monkey bars that meet in the middle (Best Playground Equipment for Schools)

Monkey bars are another longtime favorite. This set includes four different styles, so kids can compete or challenge themselves as they play.

Buy it: Air Above Play System

Happy Hollow

Mushroom shaped play structure with children in and on it

Can’t you just see the pre-K crowd having a blast in and around this structure? It’s full of nooks for climbing and crawling, and the imagination possibilities are endless.

Buy it: Happy Hollow

Pup Tent Climber

Playground equipment shaped like a pup tend, with children sitting inside and climbing on top

Hide inside or climb on top! This is the kind of versatile playground equipment that sparks imagination while providing exercise.

Buy it: Pup Tent Climber

Tripleshoot Ball Game

Children throwing balls into a large funnel with three openings for the balls to emerge from (Best Playground Equipment for Schools)

Here’s another classic you’ll probably remember from your own playground days. Kids toss in a ball, and it leaves the funnel from one of three exits. There are no set rules, so it encourages kids to make up their own games instead.

Buy it: Tripleshoot Ball Game

Merry-Go-Cycle

Students riding bicycle seats mounted on a circular track

We love this “spin” on the merry-go-round. Kids pedal to make it go, adding an interactive element to this piece of spinning playground equipment.

Buy it: Merry-Go-Cycle

Curved Balance Beam

Children walking along a curved blue balance beam

Kids can’t resist the lure of a balance beam (or anything resembling a balance beam). Keep them off the walls or flower bed borders with a curved model like this one (which is also one of the more affordable pieces on this list). These are fun as part of a bigger obstacle course system too.

Buy it: Curved Balance Beam

Spiral Slide

Blue spiral slide with staircase leading up to it

Today’s non-metal slides eliminate all the dangers of burning bare legs on hot summer days. Plus, they come in such fun shapes! We like that this one has a staircase entry, which is easier and safer than a ladder for many kids.

Buy it: Spiral Slide

Playground equipment at schools isn’t the only way to make recess special. These 18 Awesome School Playgrounds Make Recess More Fun Than Ever!

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The Best Playground Equipment for Schools (and Where To Buy
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