Deciding to purchase a playset for your child or children can be an exciting, but nerve wrecking, task. You want your play set to last so your child can enjoy it over time and you also want to include elements and activities that are appropriate for their age group. From ages 5 to 8, children are strengthening their muscles and learning through physical play, so when deciding on the best playsets for older kids — variety is key!
Just because your kids are older, doesn’t mean that safety is any less important. Many of the safety precautions we recommend for toddlers are also necessary for older children as well. As you research different playset options and view some of the models first-hand, make sure the following safety features are in place:
- Climbing elements should be no taller than 7′ high.
- There should be barriers or guardrails in place for elevated surfaces higher than 2′ from the ground.
- All openings on the equipment should be less than 3 ½” wide or more than 9” wide to avoid trapping body parts.
Between 5 and 8 years old, children can run, jump, skip, and balance with sufficient physical control. It is important to pick a playset that challenges their new abilities. There are several elements to look for when determining the best playsets for older kids.
- Add physical challenges like horizontal bars, overhead rings, or sliding poles.
- Choose pieces such as tire swings or dual riders that encourage cooperative play.
- Create places for dramatic play such as a sandbox or a space to play “house.”
Our Picks: The Best Playsets for Older Kids
SK-10 Mountain Climber
This playset is perfect for school-aged children. The SK-10 Mountain Climber features a play tower with a deck, a 5’ rock wall, cargo net climber, 10’ Avalanche slide, three swings, and a step ladder. This playset also includes a steering wheel and telescope for dramatic play.
C-3 Tunnel Escape
One of our biggest playset options, the C-3 Tunnel Escape, feels like an amusement park right in your backyard. This model has it all — an Avalanche slide, 7’ Turbo Twister slide, four swings, picnic table, and sand box. Two step ladders provide access to a tower and a playhouse, connected by a tower tunnel and bridge. For cooperative play, this also includes a ship’s wheel, telescope, bubble panel, and a picnic table that your older kids will enjoy.
KTB-2 Turbo Tower
There are plenty of fun options on this KTB-2 Turbo Tower playset! This playset features two separate decks, three swings, a Turbo Twister slide, 7’ rock wall, and a step ladder. This option also includes a few of our favorite accessories for older kids, including a steering wheel and binoculars.
SK-12 Mountain Climber
We say that double the slides equal double the fun! The SK-12 Mountain Climber features a single play tower with a deck, a 10’ Avalanche slide, plus a 5’ Sidewinder slide, a 5’ rock wall, cargo net climber, three swings, a tic-tac-toe panel, and a telescope. Try saying that five times fast!
Add On to Your Current Playset
If your school-age children will soon grow out of their toddler-sized play set (or already have) there’s still hope! No need to buy a completely new set, just switch out some of the basic elements for more challenging, age appropriate options.
Swings — Switch out your baby or infant swings for belt swings, tire swings, a trapeze bar, or a dual rider.
Slides — Change your basic tunnel or avalanche slide for a Turbo Twister slide. Just be sure to purchase the height that matches your existing playset.
Swing Beams — Expand your basic swing beam to include additional positions, or even add a beam which includes a ladder and monkey bars.
Access — Replace a basic ladder with a rock wall or cargo net. This way, children have a new and fun way to reach the deck or playhouse.
Tower Add-ons — Add a new playset tower to increase play elements, some even include climbing elements, fun accessories, and higher platforms.