What are the Different Types of Indoor Playground Equipment?

S. Mithra

Indoor playground equipment is not entirely different from outdoor structures, but they are generally smaller, softer, and more modular. Adding interactive fun and creative play to stores, daycares, restaurants, preschools, parks, places of worship, and even homes, the different types of indoor playground equipment are designed to teach children cooperation, sharing, coordination, and imaginative games. They differ by size, type, targeted age group, skill, and modularity.

Floor mats can reduce the number and extent of indoor playground injuries.
Floor mats can reduce the number and extent of indoor playground injuries.

One particularly accessible model from among the different types of indoor playground equipment is the floor mat. Floor mats are sometimes combined with other activities, but by themselves they are very effective at keeping children's interest. These are rubber, carpeted, or plastic sections of flooring that are dyed or woven to form puzzles, games, or mazes. For example, they may have a tic-tac-toe game board with Velcro X's and O's, or a racetrack with small felt cars.

Some playgrounds feature a seesaw, or teeter-tooter.
Some playgrounds feature a seesaw, or teeter-tooter.

Obstacle courses are a more physical play system. This type of indoor playground equipment combines creativity with exercise. An obstacle course has different elements that can be used separately, but it's designed for a child to run through successively. These develop a child's motor coordination. For example, the course may have children slide down a ramp, balance across a beam, climb a rope wall, jump down a platform, slide down a fire fighter's pole, and pull themselves across monkey bars.

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Monkey bars can be easily assembled indoors.
Monkey bars can be easily assembled indoors.

Obstacle courses could be seen as one way of playing with a large-scale play system like a jungle gym. These multi-level, plastic structures allow lots of children to climb, swing, jump, slide, hang, and tumble as they navigate different areas. These types of indoor playground equipment are permanently installed at community centers and schools to handle a whole class of children during day care or recess.

Inflatable bouncy castles are another example of indoor playground equipment. These are blown-up platforms or rooms that let children jump, bounce, and tumble without fear of falling or striking a hard surface. Sometimes they are combined with other toys like plastic balls or soft Frisbees. They come in a wide variety of thematic shapes, most popularly castles, but also carousels and spaceships.

A final, smaller scale type of indoor playground equipment has become popular for parents to set up in their own homes. Soft, modular, fabric tubes look like guinea pig mazes but give more adaptability to kids. These tubes, supported by coils of bendable plastic, can be tied together to make long tunnels. They'll also connect to interior rooms, like tents, to create many possible layouts. Older children will enjoy the creative control over these tubes as they crawl through them, play hide-n-seek, tag, or camp out inside.

Slides may be part of an obstacle course in an indoor playground.
Slides may be part of an obstacle course in an indoor playground.

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Discussion Comments

anon153194

My kids have always enjoyed going to indoor playgrounds when I have the chance to take them. Since they loved it so much, the idea of setting up an indoor playground in my basement seemed like a no brainer. I found a variety of indoor playgrounds online through Fingo Fun. The structures are sturdy and can be placed outside for those summer months.

Sunny27

SauteePan- What a great idea, I have never thought of doing that. I always had the Little Tykes plastic houses and slides.

I kept these in a playroom for my children so they were able to play. These also can be used outdoors because they're made of sturdy plastic. Many day cares have these indoor playground items. I also had a little picnic table that I kept in the playroom for them as well.

SauteePan

Dfum32- I know which ones you're talking about. I saw a really cute floor mat toy at FAO Schwartz that was actually a piano.

The kids would step on each of the notes and it would make a musical sound. It was really cute.

I also wanted to say that I had an inflatable bounce house for my kids that I used inside the house.

It was easy to set up. Once you plug it in and turn the switch on it inflates by itself so you don't have to worry about anything. It also has a carrying case and is very easy to store. I bought it at Toys 'R Us for like $230.

dfrum32

Jungle gyms are not usually found inside, but the play mats are awfully fun, also the rugs that have games or the alphabet, numbers, or a map on them.

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