Monday, 11 March 2013

How can you have the most possible fun?

Advice and thoughts needed please.

About six months back I was contacted by the brilliantly named Big Game Hunters, a company that makes garden toys and equipment, wanting to know if I wanted to review a swing.  Rather cheekily I said no, but that I was quite interested in climbing frames (rather more expensive, clearly, but if you don't ask you don't get).

Disappointingly, if not entirely surprisingly, they aren't going to send me an entirely free climbing frame, but they suggested we could trial their (free to all comers) design service to create a climbing frame just for us.

I told them our budget (up to £1,250 or thereabouts - grandparents have kindly been contributing to this fund for birthdays and Christmases), and the lovely Abby has designed not one, but four options, all of which I can tweak as desired.

The problem, of course, is that I'm not a small child and so I don't actually have any idea about what is brilliant fun for the next ten years (possibly a little optimistic in L's case, but hopefully not in M's) and what is just gimmicky and will never be played with.

Which is hopefully where you come in.  What do you think of the designs below? What did/do your children/friends/neighbours/that horrid little boy you never liked anyway enjoy?

All thoughts very welcome!

Number 1:  I think there are monkey bars going over behind the swing.  Not sure how that would work.  Like the bridge though

 Number 2:   M clearly couldn't manage that cargo net contraption yet, but should that stop us?

Number 3:  Where do we stand on the tunnel? I rather like it...

Number 4: ...But is a bridge more fun?  Answers on a postcard.

 The disclosure bit - the design service is free to everyone, but they have offered to give us some money off the actual climbing frame if we buy it.  How much, I'm not sure yet!


  1. Tunnel are ALWAYS possible - though you might want to think about making it large enough that an adult could fit in the rescue / remove a stuck / obstinate child. (Just saying...)

    1. Or I could leave it small for comedy wiggling bottom (probably mine) moments...

  2. Fireman's pole - never gets a lot of use. And I worry that they'll skin their palms using it.

    The big climbing net thing is good, because it makes them work hard. Everything else becomes so quick and easy as they grow up.

    What about the openness of the platforms? Are you ok with that? Do you happily envisage the next 2-3 years standing by the gap, stopping M falling out? Make sure you can get from one gap to the next at ground level quicker than he can on the climbing frame. Otherwise it's exhausting and anxiety-inducing, once they've worked out that particular game. If there are two housey-type thingies, think about having one of them enclosed on 3 sides, (the 4th side being the bridge/tunnel entrance and therefore also safe) - kids like the secret space inside for imaginative play, and it means you only have to guard one house.

    Never have just one swing. Too much arguing over whose turn it is. How about one of those rectangular sit-in swings? Looks like a boat? You know the kind of thing? They're good for the more-than-one-child situation, but can also be a swing for one.

    I like tunnels. I also like bridges. Choosing between them would be too much mental effort for me. And the one I didn't choose might feel hurt.

    The rope pull-up ramp thing is good.

    Ask your children what their fave things on a climbing frame are (you've prob done that).

    I don't like number 1 (what's the point of that ladder on the end all on it's own?, and just one swing), but all the others look great. Though I think it's important that kids can run round and chase each other (that's what they do, isn't it?), and number 2 wouldn't allow that. Would be too difficult to get from one tower to the other quickly enough. Can you have a bridge as well as that net stuff?

    I had no idea I had such firm opinions about climbing frames. Would Big Game Hunters like to offer me a consultancy?

    1. They so should. Was that one of your two interviews?

    2. No... but tell them they can employ me if they like. I'm really fab. And available.

    3. Rather disappointingly they seem to have vanished. I will chase. And give them your phone number. Or something.

    4. I did love the thorough answer from Iota!! I'm afraid to say that our climbing frame business is only one part of us and we are too small to employ someone solely for this - how are your coffee making skills?! Only joking!
      Just a note on a couple of things you mentioned - it is hard to tell but the 'ladder on its own' in drawing number one is actually a large monkey bars structure, so usually good as children require a greater challenge. I do agree that multiple swings are the way forward.
      The football net connector has a foot cross bar - so I have seen children zip across this quite quickly (great for their balancing skills!!)
      Harriet - we haven't vanished!! :)

  3. I think that Iota has been rather thorough, but I have to say that my two love fireman's poles.

    With swinging things the more the merrier.

    I agree number one is a waste of precious space. We like climbing nets and bridges. In fact my boys would say if it scares you mum then it is more fun to play on!

    1. I have already mentioned that with four children we need more than one swing.

      But the scaring your mum point is a good one - maybe I should make sure we put it somewhere I can't see it?!


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