Children spend a considerable share of their time on playgrounds engaging in different types of recreational activities. As a result, the playground equipment must correspond to the needs of children of all ages and help them to develop both gross and fine motor skills. At a local playground, I identified three pieces of equipment which can be considered for children during both early and middle childhood, namely, slides, swings, and monkey bars.
Slides are a piece of perfect equipment since they can provide benefits to children of different ages. In the case of slides, in early-childhood children, they can promote gross motor skills such as transitioning the body into various positions and the use of bilateral movements of limbs. Middle childhood children, by using slides, can develop gross motor skills such as pushing in order to increase acceleration when sliding down (Gil-Madrona, 2021). In terms of fine motor skills, children of both ages can develop grasping, which is essential when preventing one’s body from sliding prematurely. Slides stimulate senses such as touch, body movement, and body awareness of children belonging to both age groups. The type of play children engage in when using slides is solitary because they do it alone. The slides were made of recreational plastic, while the ground under the slides was sand, and they are both the safest options because they are not as hard as the alternatives.
Another piece of equipment which was fairly popular among children was swings, and they also can be quite beneficial. For instance, in early-childhood children, swings promote gross skills such as climbing onto objects since children need to climb onto the swings first. Moreover, in order to climb the swings, they also need to walk on toes for some time which is another gross motor skill (Payne & Isaacs, 2020). Additionally, children also may need to stand on one foot for several seconds before climbing onto the swings. In the case of middle childhood children, the additional gross motor skills promoted by swings are pumping one’s feet to propel the body. In terms of fine motor skills, both age groups develop them through the improvement of grip strength when holding onto the swings. Swings stimulate senses such as body movement and awareness, as well as touch. Swings can be solitary, but for smaller children, they are cooperative. The swings on the playground were made of heavy-duty fabric while the ground consisted of sand, and both materials were safe.
Finally, monkey bars were also a piece of playground equipment used extensively by children of different ages. In early-childhood children, monkey bars can promote gross skills such as climbing, standing on one foot, jumping forward, and landing on two feet. As for fine motor skills, early-childhood children can promote their foot-hand coordination (Goodway et al., 2019). With the help of monkey bars, middle childhood children can develop gross motor skills such as holding and moving across the monkey bars themselves and hanging from bars. Middle childhood children also can develop their fine motor skills through gross motor skills such as strengthening their grip (Miller et al., 2017). Monkey bars stimulate different senses, including body movement and touch. Monkey bars are mostly solitary, and the material they were made of was metal. Although the ground consisted of sand, the metal monkey bars could be potentially dangerous.
Modern playgrounds have numerous types of equipment promoting the development of children’s gross and fine motor skills. Early childhood children can use slides, swings, and monkey bars to enhance skills such as changing body positions and climbing. In middle childhood children, such equipment can help to promote pushing, hanging on bars, and pumping one’s feet.
Gil-Madrona, P. (2021). Physical education initiatives for early childhood learners. IGI Global.
Goodway, J., Ozmun, J., & Gallahue, D. (2019). Understanding motor development: Infants, children, adolescents, adults. Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Miller, L. J., Schoen, S. A., Camarata, S. M., McConkey, J., Kanics, I. M., Valdez, A., & Hampton, S. (2017). Play in natural environments: A pilot study quantifying the behavior of children on playground equipment. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention, 10(3), 213–231.
Payne, G., & Isaacs, L. (2020). Human motor development: a lifespan approach. Routledge.