The MLUC Playground Committee was formed in October, 2002, with the aim of improving the church playground and limiting the legal liability associated with it. Its current members are:
Peter McDowell, co-chair Carr Everbach, co-chair Kim Alvord, Childcare Coordinator Severn Falcone Cheryl MacDonald Ed MacDonald Teresa Zink Kevin Black, BOT representative
Below is a brief tour of some favorite playground items, for consideration by the Main Line Unitarian Church Playground Committee.
This playground is in Upper Marion Township, behind the Township building near the intersection of Rt. 23 and Henderson Road (from MLUC, head north on Waterloo and follow the signs to Rt. 202 N. Henderson Road is a left after the King of Prussia Mall).
This roller slide is really fun, but long hair can get caught in the rollers (or fingers, if kids are trying to climb up the very slippery rollers)
Very nice bouncing animals for smaller kids.
The quad bouncer shown has problems, however, in that the heavy rubber sleeves slide back from the springs underneath, possibly exposing kids to a pinch hazard.
Here is the nameplate on the equipment in this park: Landscape Structures, Inc. Click on this name to get more information.
Another playground, called Belmont Park, is located on Anderson just after Dartmouth (Anderson is off of Henderson, quite close to the above park).
The surfaces are covered with a rubberized pad that can come in either tan or blue:
The next playground shown is in Broomall near the Lawrence Park Shopping Center. Newer photos, taken March 24, 2004, at the Veterans Park playground in Broomall, PA (Lawrence Road, near intersection with Sproul Rd):
3. A playhouse in the shape of a space ship (for the little kids)
The classic spinaround carousel
A particularly nice roller-walk
And it is worth remembering that a kid on a small ridge can enjoy balancing, especially if the ridge forms a serpentine meander:
This playground is in Concord Township, PA, near the Garnet Valley High School, Middle School, and Grade School. To get there from Philadelphia or points East, take Route 1 West/South past the Granite Run Mall and the Franklin Mint. Turn left (South) on Valley Brook Road at the stoplight, then right onto Smith Bridge Road. Follow Smith Bridge until you pass the Garnet Valley schools, and the playground is on your right after the Concord Township Library.
The playground was built as a community project with the help of Robert Leathers & Associates in 1992.
The playground is constructed almost entirely out of pressure treated wood and recycled materials. Shown above is a tire bridge reinforced with chains connecting two wooden sections containing many levels and passages.
Large tractor tires (worn smooth and obviously recycled) half-buried in the ground (which in turn is covered with sand or wood chips) form a climbing structure.
A "boat" made of wood that rocks on a base made of several tires serves as a play area for littler kids, while still surrounded by the bigger-kids play equipment. I like the idea that some items of equipment might be intereting mostly to little kids, while not confined to a separate "baby" part of the playground. The tire climbing structure is seen at right, and on the left, a chain bridge, shown in more detail below:
The chain bridge chains are covered in automobile radiator hose, a cheap, indestructible material, and the distance below the bridge is about 8 inches.
This shows the same idea as the chain bridge, but for a chain tower. Big kids could conceivably climb up high, but cannot reach the top of the phone-pole to which the chains attach, and therefore are less likely to fall on those below. Note the alternate-design chain bridges on either side, connecting to the chain tower.
Another cheap-easy-fun idea, a rubber bridge made out of neoprete sheet, firmly screwed down to platforms at both ends. An inch-diameter hole is made at its center to allow drainage after rain. This bridge has had four or five adults jumping up and down on it simultaneously, and was not broken.
A large pyramidal structure of pressure-treated two-by-sixes is used to suspend a line of tires forming a rocking/swinging horse. Again, the suspending chains are clad in radiator hose and the tires hang on two sets of chains running inside them.
A similar pyramidal structure can support a platform, suspended just inches above the ground, which rocks about a foot in any direction while keeping mostly horizontal. I call this a "wiggle deck" and it is very popular at this playground.
Not everything at this playground is made of wood, rubber, and tires. The tubular slide above is made to look like an elephant's trunk, and is safe yet very fun.
Surrounding this playground are octagonal tables made of pressure-treated two-by-sixes for adults to sit and chat, or picnic with kids, while keeping an eye on the playground.
Other items I think might be good to have appear at the playground near the Media Elementary School in Media, PA.
These are individual platforms that rotate on vertical shafts and thereby allow kids to spin around and get dizzy, safely. They are a commercial product, company unknown but I could find out. Here are some close-ups:
And at the Media Elementary School playground, there is also a set of "mushrooms" that pop up and down when you step on them. These are arranged to form a path to some other mushrooms that swing on chains from a frame. Again, company unknown, but I could find out who makes them:
Finally, just to show what I want to avoid at MLUC, here is a joyless municipal playground on the way to the Concord Township playground (mostly this playground is vacant. Kids and parents obviously prefer the wood-tire playground!
More to come, as I bring my camera to Boston tomorrow...
From Lexington, MA, another wooden playground with a few nice elements we could copy:
I like the wooden tunnel, which can be climed on as well as through, and might make a nice replacement for the concrete pipe, now boarded up, nested in rocks at MLUC.
Obviously these pictures were taken just after a snowfall, so no kids playing then, but you get the idea.
And now an outdoor musical sculpture made of PVC pipe from the Acton, MA, Discovery Museum:
This was the inspiration for my idea about PVC pipe toe- and hand-holds for a climbing structure, the serpentine wall, that would double as a giant musical instrument.
When struck with the hand or a wooden stick/mallet, each pipe produces a distinct, rather low, tone based upon the length of pipe to which it attaches.
Can you imaging these pipes potted in cement and used for climbing?
An outdoor xylophone made of logs is fun, too, and cheap to make. Sounds just like a marima when I've tried it!
This large cement dinosaur is a very popular climbing structure, too, and serves as the Discovery Museum's mascot and logo. Maybe MLUC could have some kind of animal or creature, too, that kids climb on or otherwise identify with. What would be a good UU mascot?
Photos immediately above taken 1/2/03 by E. Carr Everbach. No rights reserved.
Please send further comments to the webmaster or to the MLUC playground committee as a whole. Thank you for your time.
Last modified 3 January 2005