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There are many different types of commercial playground equipment on the market, including swings, seesaws, merry-go-rounds, climbers, spring riders and so much more. Most manufacturers and dealers will use a collection of similar industry terminology to describe equipment. Some old school playground equipment has been around for decades, evolving over the years to meet higher standards of safety. Other kinds are more innovative and new to the scene. Knowing some playground terminology can really help you communicate with your sales representative your goals and wishes for a project. By understanding the terms used to describe the equipment, you are empowered to create the best possible play area for your site. Here we will discuss some of the categories of commercial-grade playground equipment and the specific types of play elements within those categories.


Common Terms for Playground Equipment


Playground Structures


Playground Structures, or Play Systems, are the centerpiece of the play area and bring the fun and learning outside. Daily play is essential for child development and helps little ones refine motor skills, spatial awareness and coordination. Each manufacturer will have their own take on a play structure, but all adhere to the safety standards of children’s play equipment. Browse our selection of playground structures by age, category or price or take a look at our in-stock Quick Ship structures for a speedy arrival. Playground Structures will be divided into the following age groups:


Independent Play


Merry-go-round : This classic playground attraction has origins that can be traced all the way back to the 18th century. A merry-go-round is typically a round disc with tall bars used as handles all the way around. Kids love the challenge of spinning each other or trying to hold on while they spin. This feature is often a favorite of the adrenaline-seeking little one who finds spinning motions very exciting rather than nauseating. Merry-go-rounds often have unique parts that differentiate them by manufacturer or age group, but they all operate in a similar way. This independent play item inspires cooperation and teamwork while offering a thrill suitable for many ages.


Climber : This playground element is one of the most thrilling and popular among children. They are more demanding features that can be very rewarding to conquer. They come in all shapes, colors and sizes and can be found connected to other elements or as freestanding pieces. AAA State of Play offers a wide variety of climbers from several different manufacturers. They can often be broken down into four categories: boulders, walls and panels, overhead structures and climbing sculptures. To help customers navigate the types of climbing elements available, we have broken them down even further into the following subcategories:


Popular Types of Climbers

  • Aztec Climbers
  • Chain and Rope Climbers
  • Challenger Climbers
  • Classic Climbers
  • Craggy Climbers
  • Pod Climbers
  • Panel Climbers
  • 3D Net Climbers
  • Tortoise Climbers
  • Tunnel Climbers



Spring Rider : This classic playground item is instantly recognizable. Spring Riders spark the imaginations of children and thrill them with their bouncing and swaying motions. They are typically shaped like a fun character, usually an animal or vehicle of some kind, that draws little ones from every direction of the play area. They are small, space-saving features, perfect for filling in the gaps and adding a finishing touch to any preschool, park or daycare playground.


Slide : Slides are a fan favorite and can be seen from the moment you step foot in a playground. They are one of the most diverse play elements, as they come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes for many different age groups. This thrilling element can be seen attached to playsets and structures or as  stand alone pieces. They are commonly made from molded plastic but can also be made from metal. Our selection of slides includes tube, spiral, straight and freestanding.


Spinner : Spinners can take a number of forms. Whether it’s overhead, standing, or sitting, kids will have a blast whirling around the playground. Spinners can be single-use or hold multiple children at once, making them a diverse element that can fit in nearly any space. Overhead spinners are great for building strength and targeting key developing muscles in the arms. Standing and sitting spinners target core abdominal muscles, along with being non-stop fun for kids of many ages. Spinners offer exciting and thrilling experiences for children.


Seesaw : The seesaw, or teeter-totter, became popular at the turn of the 20th century. It comes from the French ci-ça, which translates to “this-that.” This seemingly silly name likely refers to the motion of a seesaw, as it moves up and down, this way then that way. It is one of the most recognizable pieces of playground equipment, but is not as instinctual as other elements. After some instruction, it is a favorite among children at play. Find the perfect seesaw for kids from our sundry selection on


Crawl Tubes : Crawl Tubes, sometimes referred to as Fun Tubes, are simple, effective and great for imaginative play.  They come in many shapes, sizes and themes and are appropriate for any age, particularly six months to five years. Crawling tunnels typically have small holes along the sides, great for letting in light or offering a peek during a game of hide and seek. They encourage crawling and promote strength as children maneuver through the tunnel. Fun Tubes can be attached to play structures or installed as freestanding elements throughout a playground.


Music : Outdoor musical instruments are a great way to diversify the play area and introduce something that develops different skills. Music education is closely related to higher learning comprehension, better test scores and overall happier children. By bringing metallophones, drums, marimbas, chimes and xylophones to an outdoor setting, you can foster a relationship between nature and music. You can find musical playground equipment in the form of panels, mount attachments or traditional stand-alone pieces.


Balance Beam : Balance beams can be found on nearly every playground, and for a reason. This classic offers an instinctual challenge for kids while improving their balance, coordination and agility. Balancing equipment helps kids learn about their senses and develop them accordingly. Balance beams began as a very simple straight beam mounted to hover just over the ground. Today, balancing activities come in all shapes and sizes including zig-zag beams, pebble bridges, stepping paths, rubber animals and much more. 




Swing sets are found on nearly every playground in the country. They are differentiated by types of frames, as well as seats. Commercial-grade swings are most commonly made of metal because it is more durable and long-lasting. Wood sets are often used only for residential purposes. Some of the most popular swing options include the following:


  • Bipod
  • Tripod
  • Single Post
  • T-swing
  • Cantilever
  • Arch Post


Most swing frames can accommodate various types of swing seats. A manufacturer or dealer will be able to guide you through the process of matching swings with seats. The most common types of swing seats are:


  • Belt Seat
  • Bucket Seat
  • Tire Swing
  • Adaptive Swing Seat



To put the finishing touches on a playground or public space of any kind, you will need to consider Site Amenities. This includes items such as benches, picnic tables, grills, bike racks, signs and trash receptacles. These can often be customized to fit the needs of a specific space. They make visitors feel comfortable and encourage them to stay longer, as they are provided convenience and comfort. Trash receptacles are vital for keeping the play area clean and reducing the strain on maintenance teams. Seating offers parents and guardians a comfortable place to set up for the day while the kids. And signs are key for park safety. They clarify the rules and guidelines of the park and help guests navigate the area.