15 May
Free DIY Design Kit for Playgrounds for Parks
Posted by Elizabeth Moreno

10 (10)

Does your community need a park playground? Have you considered building one yourself? Playground Ideas supports communities around the world build playgrounds using only local tools, materials, and labor. We’ve put a “Playground Starter Kit,” which puts together eight of our favorite, time-tested designs into one amazing playspace. Check it out!


Hop onto the balancing standing see-saw, which can accommodate many kids at once. Ahead you’ll find the sandpit – a rich sensory environment that promotes fine motor skills, eye and hand coordination, and creativity and imagination. Just behind, you’ll find a pretend play scene, complete with a small shop, a couple motorbikes, and a small garden.


Pairing the garden with the sandpit and pretend play area allows kids to add leaves, flowers and sticks from the garden into their sand play, or bring the elements into their shop to “sell.” Tucked away under the park trees is a line of hammock swings, and steps away is a simple half-tire tire grid that can host an outdoor classroom while also providing hours of fun just jumping to and fro. Simple earth mounds ring the park, creating a sense of enclosure and a super low-cost element to run up and down and up and down.


This park playground is adaptable to different ages and group sizes. In this design kit you’ll find the DIY step-by-step plans for each element, as well tips and advice for adapting the design to your own space and needs. Click here to download a free copy of the “Playground Starter Kit” and get started on your park playground today!

14 May
5 DIY Adventure Outdoor Play Sets
Posted by Elizabeth Moreno


A great playground spurs a child’s wild imagination, transporting them into wild adventures and make-believe fantasies. While commercial play sets can be very expensive to purchase, many DIY outdoor play sets are easy to build with simple tools and easily found materials. We’ve put together five of our favorite DIY adventure outdoor play sets. Check it out!

1. Aeroplane

Soar high above the clouds in this make-believe aeroplane. Climb into the cockpit and steer the plane yourself, ride the see-saw wings, or take a seat as a passenger.

1 2

Click here to get the step-by-step instructions to build your own Aeroplane.
2. Train

All aboard! This play set train is made from a barrel, old tires, and a bit of pipe and doubles as a cozy cubby to crawl inside.


Click here to get the step-by-step instructions to build your own Train.


3. Tha Wah Car

Zoom around the playground with your friends in this pretend car! This play set makes the perfect addition to a pretend play scene. Park it next to the playhouse!

4 5

Click here to get the step-by-step instructions to build your own Tha Wah Car.


4. Crazy Caterpillar

Take a ride on this larger than life play set caterpillar as it slithers through the play space! The tire body makes for a super-fun bouncy bridge!

6 7

Click here to get the step-by-step instructions to build your own Caterpillar.


5. Scorpion

A giant scorpion may sound like your worst nightmare, but this play set is a kid’s playground dream! All you need to make this adventurous play set is several old tires, bolts, and an electric screwdriver. Imagine this creepy crawler emerging out of the sandpit!


Click here to get the step-by-step instructions to build your own Scorpion.

Looking for more DIY outdoor play set designs? Check out the full Playground Ideas Design Library, with over 150 playground element designs that can be built using only local tools, materials, and labor.

12 May
Community Based Alternatives to Commercial Playground Equipment
Posted by Elizabeth Moreno

10 (7)

Play is so important that it is considered a “right” by the United Nations. And yet, in today’s world play is often seen as a luxury, not a need. Consequently, millions of children around the world do not have adequate access to play and are not developing to their full potential. For many schools and community organizations around the world, a lack of adequate funding prevents them from creating safe, stimulating spaces for their children to play.

Commercial playground equipment can cost tens, sometimes even hundreds of thousands of dollars. When a school is struggling to pay teachers and buy textbooks, the high cost of commercial playground equipment can keep them from even considering the idea of building a play space.


Beyond the high cost, commercial playground equipment is a specialized product only available in some areas of the world. In many low-income countries, playground equipment suppliers are few and far between or simply may not exist at all. Importing commercial playground equipment is also not a sustainable solution as the taxes on imports can sometimes end up costing almost as much as the equipment itself! In addition, any playground equipment, no matter how robustly built, will require maintenance over time. Commercial playground equipment often requires special skills and tools to repair and without regular maintenance the equipment can fall into disrepair and become dangerous to play on.


Playground Ideas is a nonprofit organization founded with a mission to help fill this gap by ensuring that anyone, anywhere can build a play space using only local tools, skills and low-cost and recycled materials. With a suite of playground building handbooks, over 150 DIY designs, a crowdfunding platform, and a 3D playground designer tool, all the resources for a community build playground are in one place. Over 1400 communities in 85 countries have used our resources to build playgrounds. If you’re interested in building a playground yourself as an alternative to commercial playground equipment, check out our “Playground Starter Kit,” a design scheme that puts together some of our favorite, time-tested, low-cost elements into a beautiful space that inspires active, imaginative, social, creative, and open-ended play.


Another great alternative to commercial playground equipment is to provide “loose parts” play materials in your space. “Loose parts” play materials are cheap or free ordinary household, homemade, and natural objects like cloth, sticks, leaves, beads, clay, plastic bottles, and wires that children can use for play activities. A loose parts play area is a great option if you don’t yet have the space or funds for a built playground. Even if you already have a playground, adding loose parts to the environment will make for a richer, more creative play experience. Playground Ideas has an easy Loose Parts Manual that will introduce you to the benefits of loose parts play and guide you through creating and maintaining a low cost box of play materials for the children in your care.

Untitled design (10)

Don’t let the high cost of commercial playground equipment stand in the way of creating safe, fun spaces for children to play. Join the Playground Ideas community today to access all our resources in one space and get started on the journey of play space building!


11 May
3 DIY Wooden Play Sets
Posted by Elizabeth Moreno


Spaces for play are essential to childhood. But for many schools and child care centers, the cost of play equipment is prohibitive. Wooden play sets can be easy to construct and long-lasting. We’ve put together three of our top favorite DIY wooden play sets you can build yourself!

1. Triangular Climber

This simple wooden play set is built from wooden poles of varying length. This climbing element promotes social play as it can accommodate a few children at once. On a playground with mixed ages, young kids can stay on the lower rungs, while older/more confident climbers will be challenged as the structure gets higher and narrower.


Click here to get the step-by-step instructions to build your own Triangular Climber. 

2. A-Frame Cubby Climber

This wooden play set is perfect for young kids or toddlers. They’ll love crawling inside and playing peek-a-boo with their friends outside. It also allows for a safe, cozy space when kids need a little spot to sit and watch the world. Feeling more adventurous? Use the peek holes as climbing holds and crawl all over it.


Click here to get the step-by-step instructions to build your own A-Frame Cubby Climber.

3. Wonky Wood Climber

This climber is great as a standalone climbing structure, or it can be connected to a platform. The great thing about this wooden play set is that you can adjust the spacing between the poles to make it a gradually sloped climber or a steep ladder-like climbing structure.


Click here to get the step-by-step instructions to build your own Wonky Wood Climber. 

Looking for more DIY playground elements? Check out our Design Library with over 150 free playground element designs complete with full step-by-step instructions.


3 DIY Wooden Play Sets