About Buddy Humphreys

Buddy Humphreys is Customer Service and Operations Manager at Play N' Learn's Playground Superstores. He's been with Play N' Learn for 7 years and in his free time spends time with his family, including 2 children.

4 Tips to Help Kids Get Daily Exercise

September 23rd, 2015 by

4 Tips to Help Kids Get Daily ExerciseWith school back in session, you’ve likely noticed that homework and extracurricular activities are now taking over the bulk of your child’s after-school hours. These afternoon and evening commitments make for a busy family life — and leave little room for the 60 minutes of daily exercise recommended for kids by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Why is daily exercise so critical? Exercise can lower risk factors for health issues like diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease, as well as obesity. Plus, it can reduce stress and help kids feel better about themselves. Instilling healthy exercise and play habits in childhood increases the likelihood of your child having a positive attitude about being active as an adult. But how can you make it happen, with so many other priorities on your family’s plate?

Chunk it up
Instead of tackling the entire 60 minutes at once, break it up into manageable portions that work with your other commitments. Have time to kill between after-school activities? Swing by the playground, take a walk around the block, or play a quick game of tag. Find other opportunities for active play throughout the day — before breakfast, while you’re waiting for the school bus, or after dinner — and 60 minutes will feel far less intimidating.

Forgo the car or bus
Instead of taking the car or bus to your destination, swap in bikes, scooters, or your own two feet to travel from point A to B. Kids love the adventure and benefit from the fresh air. And as an added bonus, you’ll get some exercise and fresh air, too.

Take homework breaks
Most kids have homework every night of the week, and the older they get, the longer those homework hours become. That’s why it’s so important to take active breaks during study sessions. Try a round of jumping jacks, push-ups, jogging in place, or hula-hooping. These activities won’t just help reach the 60-minute exercise goal — studies have shown that intervals of exercise are like fuel for the brain, helping kids focus and learn better.

Make play convenient
Busy families are short on time, and convenience matters. One of the most convenient places for active play, of course, is in and around your own home. But how can you make it fun and enticing for your kids? You have options:

• Put on some music and clear out a space in your house for dancing.
• Set up an obstacle course in your yard.
• Add some outdoor play equipment, such as a play set, soccer goal, basketball hoop, or trampoline.

With play sets, for instance, you can swap out or add accessories as your kids get older. Tire swings, fire poles, trapeze bars, rock climbing walls — a number of options can keep your kids engaged in active fun for years on end. Similarly, an adjustable basketball hoop in the driveway can grow with your kids — and offer a chance for the whole family to get in on the action.

Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore or something that you need huge blocks of time to accomplish — use what you’ve got to make it fun, and consider adding play equipment to your house and yard for added convenience. Ready to get started? Drop by one of our showrooms and explore ideas with a play specialist.

How to Choose the Right Play Set for Your Yard

August 13th, 2015 by

How to Choose the Right Play Set for Your YardGetting a new play set or upgrading your existing play structure can feel daunting. From the variations of slides and swings to features like forts, climbing walls, monkey bars, and even chalk boards, the options are endless — and the decision isn’t something to take lightly, given that most play sets are a family’s hub of fun and activity for years on end. Where do you begin? What can help you find the right fit?

Below, we guide you through the process.

How do I get started?
Browsing play sets and accessories online is a great way to get initial ideas, but meeting with a play set specialist and seeing the options in person is always best. After all, you can compare the different sizes and add-on options, and a knowledgeable sales associate can chat with you about your needs and make recommendations based on the ages of your kids and the size of your yard. If you visit one of our showrooms, your kids can try out some of our play sets firsthand — and you’ll be able to see what excites them.

What if I have a play set I need to get removed first?
If you’re buying a play set from Play N’ Learn, we can remove your existing structure for a small fee. That way, your play set experience can be streamlined — and you won’t need to make arrangements with multiple companies. We’ll handle it all for you.

Can I still get a play set if my yard isn’t level or my yard isn’t big enough?
A short answer to this question is — absolutely! But it’s a question many families ask when they walk in our showrooms. Remember: the way we display play sets in the showroom isn’t at all how they have to look in your yard. The displays are there to give you ideas and let kids try out the options. If your yard isn’t perfectly flat, we can adjust the legs or add a different length slide. And if your dream play set won’t fit the current dimensions of your yard, we can shorten the swing beams or reconfigure slides and ladders to work around your space limitations. Plenty of options exist for uneven, awkwardly shaped, and even really small yards. So don’t let any of these stop you.

What if my HOA declines me?
In most cases, since our play sets are not fixed permanently to the ground, and since they come in neutral colors, they’re usually not declined by HOAs. If you’re awaiting HOA approval, we can stagger installation so that you can get the full go-ahead from the time you purchase to the day we install the swing set. And if you get declined, your purchase is fully refundable.

Can I add on more features later?
If you want to start with a smaller set and build out as your kids get older, that’s completely fine. Our swing sets are made so that you can add features like monkey bars, fire poles, tire swings, and other great accessories that can vary the play experience year after year. For instance, you might start with features like the captain’s wheel or telescopes for young kids who like to play imaginary games, and later decide to add accessories like a rock climbing wall for older kids who like a challenge or a hammock swing for those who like to relax and read. In this way, your play set investment keeps going.

At Play N’ Learn, we provide a full range of play equipment and specialize in helping families make choices that can grow alongside their kids and create lasting memories. Stop by one of our showrooms, and we’ll point you in the right direction.

Bring the Fun of Summer Camp to Your Backyard

July 23rd, 2015 by

Bring the Fun of Summer Camp to Your BackyardDo your kids go to summer camp? Playing all day with friends, having adventures, and being outdoors make for an unforgettable summer. But guess what? Your kids can experience this kind of fun whether they go to camp or not! Here are some classic games and activities that let you bring the fun of summer camp into your own backyard.

Capture the Flag
Round up friends and neighbors for an easy game of Capture the Flag. The division between your front and back yard makes a good boundary for the two teams. All you need for a “flag” is a sock or handkerchief. You can play during the day or at dusk or dark, and any place in your yard is fair game for hiding the flag, whether it’s a tree, part of the house, or a good nook or hard-to-reach spot on your playset. Here’s an overview of the game’s rules.

Water Balloon Wars
Fill up a bunch of water balloons and split into two teams. Take turns aiming and firing at the other team — below the neck only! Anyone who gets hit has to sit down. After the first round, it’s a free-for-all, and the object is to get across the enemy line without getting hit. You can make this more challenging by extending the play area to include hills or obstacles.

Drip Drip Drop
A hot-weather variation on Duck Duck Goose, Drip Drip Drop uses the same rules of one person walking around the circle of players sitting on the ground. Instead of tapping the players on the head, the standing person drips water from a cup onto their heads. On “drop,” the rest of the cup is poured over the sitting player’s head, and the chase is on!

Nature Walks
Going on hikes and exploring the outdoors is a quintessential part of the camp experience that you can recreate in your backyard or neighborhood. Do some research about common flora and fauna in your area, and see how many different species you can identify. Have your kids sketch and record what they see in a journal.

Backyard Camping
Want to up the ante on your summer camp experience? Try making your backyard a campground, and plan activities like roasting marshmallows over a fire pit, telling campfire stories, and stargazing before your kids settle into sleeping bags and tents outside. You’ll have all the modern conveniences you need nearby, but your kids can still scratch their camping itch.

So if summer camp is not on the agenda this year, or if a week or two is just not enough for your kids, bring the camp experience to your own backyard. And if you’re looking for a permanent fun fixture, head over to one of our showrooms for built-in play for days to come.

Communities Band Together to Build Parks

June 25th, 2015 by

Communities Band Together to Build ParksOutdoor play is a crucial part of children’s development — it helps kids stay active and fit, builds their immune systems, and helps them develop creativity. For many kids, playing outdoors is only a matter of heading out into the yard or walking to the local playground or park. But what happens when your community doesn’t have readily available, safe spaces where kids can play?

In South Los Angeles, abandoned or vacant lots are abundant — there almost 3,000, compared to just 134 in West LA. At the same time, there are few or no parks within walking distance of many homes, making safe places to play hard to come by. Instead, kids frequently make the best of what’s available, which sometimes means playing in alleys or vacant lots with potential hazards.

So, community organizers came up with a solution: Why not make those vacant lots work for the community? By finding suitable plots and getting grants to buy land, organizers paired with The Trust for Public Land to convert a lot into what is now known as Serenity Park — an enclosed park where kids can play and adults can exercise on free equipment.

The Trust for Public Land works with community members to enable every resident to have a public park within a 10-minute walk from their homes. Why? Accessible and convenient outdoor play spaces help counteract inactivity, promote public health, and create a better sense of pride in the community. From helping combat issues like obesity to reducing “urban heat island” effects, parks benefit communities and the environment in many ways.

In South LA, Serenity Park is just the first of what will hopefully be many success stories. The non-profit organization Community Health Councils plans to continue acquiring underutilized land to convert to public parks as part of its ongoing goal to improve public health and make the community a great place to play and enjoy the outdoors.

While the process for procuring grant money, buying land, and constructing a park takes time, the positive impact on the community is immeasurable. Families welcome the new parks with open arms, knowing that the easily accessible, safe, and enticing spaces make it easier for their kids to experience the amazing benefits of play.

At Play N’ Learn, we support any opportunity like this to create fun, safe play spaces for kids, families, and adults. Kudos to this community!

To learn how to make your yard or community park a great place for people of all ages to stay active and play, contact us today or stop by one of our showrooms.

Health Benefits of Trampolines for Adults

May 22nd, 2015 by

Health Benefits of TrampolinesJumping on a trampoline is one activity that is guaranteed to help kids burn off steam — and can even make your child more fit in the process. But did you know the same perks hold true for adults? Jumping on the trampoline is a great workout and has a host of benefits, in addition to being a lot of fun for people of any age.

And the trampoline trend is catching on. Chances are, you’ve have noticed the wave of indoor trampoline parks popping up in towns big and small. Many offer aerobics classes and fitness-oriented programs for those looking to mix up their workouts. But the reality is, you can get the same health benefits by bouncing on the trampoline in your own backyard. Here are a few reasons to tell your kids it’s your turn to jump.

It makes your bones and muscles stronger.
Like any weight-bearing activity, jumping on a trampoline will help increase your bone strength. Good bone strength reduces the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. At the same time you’re building bone strength, you’ll also be building muscles — and not just your glutes and quads. Since you’ll be working hard to stabilize yourself with your core muscles, you’ll be strengthening your back and abs, too.

It takes stress off of your weight-bearing joints.
If you’re recovering from an injury or are new to exercise, jumping on a trampoline is a low-impact way to get started without putting a lot of stress on your body. If you’re a regular exerciser, a session on the trampoline can also be a great cross-training exercise for days that you want to take some stress off of your body while still getting a great workout.

It improves your overall health.
Just like other forms of aerobic exercise, once you’ve jumped enough to get your heart rate up, you’ll start to see cardiovascular benefits in addition to the muscle you’re building. The benefits don’t stop with cardiovascular health, though. Aerobic exercise works wonders for your whole body. It can help lower blood pressure, control blood sugar, improve blood flow, reduce bad cholesterol, and reduce your risk of other health conditions.

It’s fun and can make you feel happier.
How often do you have to drag yourself to the gym or force yourself to get through that morning run? Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Jumping on the trampoline can help you inject some fun back into your workout routine — because when you’re jumping, it doesn’t feel like you’re exercising. Even better, since you’re getting all the same benefits of a good workout, you’ll also be releasing those great endorphins that help improve mood, reduce stress, and promote relaxation.

Ready to start jumping? It’s hard to say no to a trampoline when it provides so much fun and fitness for your whole family. Stop by our showrooms to check out the trampolines Play N Learn has to offer, and we’ll help you get on your way to a guaranteed fun workout. And for more on how grownups can get in on the fun and fitness benefits of play, check out our post on “Playgrounds for Adults.”

Inclusive Playgrounds Benefit All

April 16th, 2015 by

Inclusive PlaygroundsPlaygrounds are not only a ton of fun but also a crucial place for kids to develop physical, cognitive, and social skills while they play. Unfortunately, most playgrounds (especially older models) aren’t designed to accommodate children with physical or cognitive disabilities. Today, more communities are banding together to build inclusive playgrounds that are accessible to all children, including those with special needs.

What are inclusive playgrounds?
Inclusive playgrounds are play areas that accommodate children with a broad range of physical and cognitive abilities. In 2010, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was updated to include playgrounds. Now, any newly constructed or renovated public playgrounds must be accessible to those with disabilities, to provide all children the same outdoor play opportunities.

Where can I find an inclusive playground?
Moving forward, more and more communities will have inclusive playgrounds due to the new ADA requirements. But inclusive playgrounds come with a bigger price tag than their counterparts, and local governments are having a hard time finding the budget to build them. So frequently, parents and advocates are the ones pushing for these playgrounds to be built, and they’re doing the legwork to secure financing, as well. But for families of children with disabilities, waiting for their towns to update playgrounds isn’t good enough — they want to see their kids partaking in and enjoying the same fun as their able-bodied friends.

What kinds of features does an inclusive playground have?
Inclusive playgrounds are some of the best playgrounds around. They have all of the fun features of regular playgrounds, but may also have ramps for children who need physical assistance from a wheelchair or otherwise. Also, instead of mulch, the rubberized surface on an inclusive playground is smooth so that wheels won’t get stuck. Instead of classic swings, the swings of an inclusive playground provide back support to help children with muscular development issues.

Those are just the physical elements — inclusive playgrounds also have play features that foster emotional and cognitive development. Sensory, cognitive, and social skills are all part of the package, so kids who come to play can be stimulated in ways that match their level and ability.

The next time you’re at your local playground, take a look around and ask yourself: can all kids play and have fun there? If your playground needs an update, take charge! By banding together with your community and securing grants and donations, your town can revamp its local playground into one that’s even more awesome, where everyone can have fun and experience the benefits of outdoor play together.

Looking for fun and safe play equipment for your own backyard? Stop by one of our showrooms to see our wide range of swing sets, accessories, rubber mulch, and more!

Play Trend: Natural Playgrounds

March 19th, 2015 by

Play Trend: Natural PlaygroundsWe’ve all seen classic playgrounds made from metal and plastic. These play spaces are loads of fun, but adding to the mix of options is a new trend: natural playgrounds. Incorporating elements from nature like tree trunks, boulders, mud, and sand, these earth-friendly playgrounds are becoming more common and popular. Often, these natural touches are cropping up alongside more conventional play equipment.

Natural play areas look different from their mainstream counterparts, and the novelty can be enough to encourage kids to get out and play, or check out a new area of the park that they haven’t been to before. In fact, in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, park developers got a two-for-one deal by creating a natural playground using trees knocked down during Hurricane Sandy. They chose to build the playground in a less-traveled part of the park to encourage more visitors. The overall effect is a play space that fits nicely into its woodsy surroundings and encourages kids to get creative with how they play.

Prospect Park isn’t the only place that’s capitalizing on natural resources. Big Adventure Park, in Houston, recently opened with a design that relies heavily on natural elements. Trees that had to be cleared for safety and space were used to create seating and play structures. Then, developers added some conventional play equipment like swings, spinners, and a zip line to mix with the natural elements like rope bridges and climbing pyramids. Developers hope that the park will be exciting and varied enough to attract families and keep kids coming back for new experiences.

Are natural playgrounds superior to the traditional playgrounds we all know and love? The concept is exciting, and we love any new reason for children to get outside and play! We think they’re a great addition to more conventional play equipment. Natural play spaces encourage kids to imagine, explore, and create their own uses for structures. Areas of sand, mud, and sticks can provide an outlet for artistic expression and creative growth.

However, incorporating the safety elements of conventional playgrounds, like rubber mulch to protect from falls, is important to keep kids safe while they play. Plus, natural playgrounds still require regular maintenance, just like their conventional counterparts. If you’re looking for ways to make your backyard into a play paradise for kids, come visit us at Play N’ Learn and check out our wide range of playsets, accessories, and rubber mulch.

Fun Ideas for an Indoor Birthday Party

February 19th, 2015 by

Fun Ideas for an Indoor Birthday PartyWinter birthday parties can be tough. It’s too cold to have a party outside, but hosting an indoor party full of energetic kids, cake, and chaos can be too much for even the iron-willed to handle. Once you consider the pre-party prep, the post-party cleanup, the decorations, and entertainment, it starts to sound a lot simpler, more cost-effective, and more fun to host your child’s birthday party somewhere else. But where? We’ve put together a list of our favorite ideas for indoor birthday parties that everyone will enjoy.

Your local art, science, or children’s museum is likely all set up to host your child’s birthday party. All you have to do is bring the cake! Staff will lead age-appropriate adventures through the museum for your kids and their friends. Some museums have themes available to choose from like dinosaurs, space, the Ice Age, and more. Others have crafts, scavenger hunts, or interactive workshops. Your kids will learn and explore, all while celebrating and having fun!

Paint Your Own Pottery
If your child likes to flex her creative muscles, how about a party at a paint-your-own-pottery studio? The kids can create their own masterpieces and you don’t have to worry about the mess! Then, once they’re done firing the pottery in a few days, you or the guests can come pick it up and give kids a keepsake from the birthday party to take home. It’s even better — and more creative — than a goody bag!

Got a kid who likes gaming? Companies like GameTruck bring a truckload of excitement to your driveway. You can choose between video games and laser tag, and you don’t even have to drive anywhere! The truck comes to you, the kids climb aboard, and staff members oversee the party. For video game enthusiasts, this is a party-dream come true!

Hit up your local lanes to add an element of friendly competition to your child’s birthday party. You can rent lanes with bumpers or without. Break into teams and then take a snack break in between games. Some bowling alleys will decorate your lanes and provide refreshments and music, while others are happy to have you put your own touches on your party area.

Iceskating or Rollerskating
For an event that will keep your kids moving, book a party at an ice rink or roller rink. The birthday boy or girl and their friends can lace up their skates and groove to the music, and when they’re tired, you can blow out the candles in a private party room. After all that activity, your kids will be more than ready to eat cake.

Parties at the Play N’ Learn Showroom
Want to bring the outdoors inside? Our Play N’ Learn showrooms are the perfect place to host a party filled with your kid’s favorite outdoor play equipment without having to worry about the weather. With tons of models available with all the hottest features you may not have on your swingset at home, your party is bound to be exciting. Plus, we’ve got basketball hoops, trampolines, and more to keep everyone in your group happy.

So don’t let party planning hold you back, just call one of your trusted indoor birthday professionals and let them do the heavy lifting. Your kids will love the change of scenery — and best of all, you won’t have to clean up!

Stay Safe on the Playground this Winter

January 22nd, 2015 by

Stay Safe on the Playground this WinterDo colder temperatures, ice, and snow mean your backyard playset or local playground is off-limits till spring? Not at all. Even though you may balk at the idea of going outside in the cold, most kids are still raring to go. Instead of going stir-crazy inside all winter, why not embrace the outdoors as you do at other times of year? But first, check out our tips on how to stay safe on your playset or playground this winter. Then, get out there and play!

1. Inspect your playset equipment.
Your local playground should have maintenance personnel assigned to its upkeep, but your backyard playset will need to be checked each season to make sure all of the parts are still in good working order. Ideally, you should check your playset at the beginning and end of the peak play season for wear and tear, parts that need to be replaced, and other damage. But especially if you haven’t done a fall inspection, take a look at your playset now that the cold weather has come to see if any new vulnerabilities have been exposed—for example, loose boards, a cracked slide, or protruding nails or screws.

2. Check for ice.
Before you start your play session, check your playground equipment thoroughly for ice or snow build-up. Ice can be especially dangerous on hand- and foot-holds (like those on ladders and monkey bars), where it’s easy to slip and fall. If you can chip away any ice build-up, then you’re all clear. But avoid any parts of the playground that aren’t free of ice or snow. The same goes for your rubber mulch or footing—if it’s frozen, don’t play! Your kids rely on the absorbency of the material to protect them from falls.

3. Watch the weather.
If it’s below freezing or there’s freezing rain, stick to an indoor play session. Particularly when there’s precipitation in colder temperatures, ice can form rapidly and create unsafe conditions even if things were safe when you started playing. When it’s cold, limit your outdoor play to short sessions to avoid frostbite.

4. Suit up in the right snow gear.
Since your kids will be bundled up more than in the summer, it’s important to make sure their clothing is as safe as possible. That means avoiding scarves and drawstrings, which can get caught on play equipment, and not wearing nylon pants, which can make your child go too fast on a slide. It also means making sure your kids are warm and dry, so break out those hats, boots, gloves, and layers!

The last step is to make sure you have hot chocolate in the pantry to enjoy when you’re done playing! Need more ideas on what to do outside this winter? Check out our suggestions for how to turn your playset into a winter wonderland to get the most out of your playset this season.

Last-Minute Gift Giving Ideas for Kids

December 18th, 2014 by

Winter Break ActivitiesThe holidays seem to sneak up on all of us, and when your kids find themselves without presents for family and friends, they’ll need last-minute options that won’t break the piggy bank. From meaningful crafts to useful coupons for services or cost effective, creative gifts, your kids will have a back up plan to make sure they’re ready for the holidays! Here are our top picks for last-minute gift giving ideas for kids.

Handmade picture frames with special photos
Using an inexpensive frame from a craft store, or even popsicle sticks, your kids can make a personalized frame to hold a photo with special meaning. They can unleash their inner artists and decorate the frame with buttons, feathers, glitter, or letters to make the frame more personal. You can help them pick a family photo or a meaningful picture and get it printed. A thoughtful gift with a personal touch goes a long way!

Coupons for helping out mom and dad around the house
Who doesn’t love some free help? Coupons are a great gift for kids who don’t have a big budget to draw from. Your kids can create a coupon book that they can draw and decorate, or your older kids can make coupons on the computer if they are feeling extra professional. Have your kids think about coupons for items that would be truly helpful, like doing the dishes, helping with laundry, or walking the dog. Giving Mom or Dad back some of their valuable time by taking some chores off their lists can be even better than a physical gift!

Decorated mugs or cups
Using just ceramic mugs or cups and sharpies, your kids can create personalized and creative items for the whole family. For kids who like art, this gift is a great opportunity to show off their design and drawing skills. Simple white mugs or cups are inexpensive and provide a great blank canvas for creating a memorable and functional gift.

A future “Day of Fun”
For a gift that works for anyone in the family, your kids can give a full day of fun that they’ll spend with the gift recipient. Your kid and the recipient can plan the day together or your kid can plan it alone so that the day is a thoughtful surprise. Spending a day enjoying each other’s company is a nice way for your kids to show a family member they care.

Make a playlist
For tech savvy kids, making a mixtape of songs, podcasts, or books on tape for a family member is an easy way to make a gift at home that still shows that they put time and effort into putting something together. Your kids can research popular podcasts or artists and create a playlist that the recipient can download—a perfect last minute gift that your kids can do from home!

We hope these ideas have sparked your kids’ imaginations to make cost-effective, creative, and meaningful gifts this holiday season. Happy Holidays from all of us here at Play N Learn!