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.

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!

Bring Basketball Season to Your Neighborhood

December 1st, 2014 by

basketball tournamentThe cold and dark days of late fall may be driving you to take cover indoors, but that doesn’t mean sports mania has lessened any around the country. College basketball season is in full swing, and many undergraduate students will be lining up for hours and even camping out to get tickets to games. Why not bring some of that excitement to your neighborhood by organizing a community basketball tournament? Here are some ideas on how to do it:

1. Decide what the events will be.
Will you play regular games? Will they be 3-on-3, or will the teams be larger? Will there be modified, family-friendly games like HORSE for younger players? You can also decide whether all of the games will take place at one house with all of the participants cheering each other on, or whether your tournament will be spread out across multiple basketball hoops in the neighborhood. Or, you can reserve a basketball court at a nearby park and really get things going with a full-court game!

2. Get the neighborhood pumped up with publicity.
Have your kids hop on the computer or hand-draw signs promoting the basketball tournament and announcing the location, date, and time. You could even post a sign-up sheet near your mailbox for everyone to reserve spots and form teams (or if your neighborhood is tech-savvy, you can organize it on a Facebook group or an app like Sign-Up Genius). You can have kids’ teams and adult teams, or you can mix everyone together so the teams are balanced. For people who don’t want to play but still want to participate, have them sign up to bring snacks, take photos, or be the announcer. You could even have neighbors show off their other talents during a half-time performance!

3. Plan the day.
Your kids can help you put together a schedule of the order of the games and who will play when. Then they can post the schedules around the neighborhood and spread the word to their friends. On the day of the tournament, set up a snack station and sign-in table, and have people bring folding chairs to sit in while they wait for their turn to play. You can set up other games to keep players occupied during downtime, like obstacle courses for younger kids. And how about recruiting someone to man a hot chocolate station to keep spectators warm and happy?

4. Have fun!
Enjoy a great day of basketball and fun with your whole neighborhood. When the day is over, you can send pictures to everyone who participated and post the winning teams and scores. Spending a day outside playing together is a great way to relieve stress from holiday planning, school, and work—all while fostering a sense of community. Who knows? You may be starting a new neighborhood tradition!

If you’re looking to add some friendly competition to your driveway or neighborhood, Play N’ Learn carries and installs a range of basketball hoops. Get in touch today to find out more.

Lure the Kids Outdoors with an Obstacle Course

November 21st, 2014 by

Adult PlaygroundsWith the cooler weather and earlier sunset, it may be hard to motivate your kids to go outside to play. It’s cold—and there’s so much homework! Fitting in 60 minutes of daily exercise may seem like the last thing your kids want to do.

When motivation is hard to come by, it’s time to invent some new ways to use what you have on hand to get your kids excited about playing. Enter: backyard obstacle courses.

The backyard might seem like old news to your kids after many months of playing outdoors. By using what you already have in your yard and garage, however, you can set up an obstacle course that changes the way your kids think about their play equipment. To get started, pick and choose some of the obstacle course ideas below. Arrange the activities in any order, and encourage your kids to come up with new configurations and help determine the rules. Then let them loose for an afternoon of climbing, jumping, running, aiming, sliding — and a whole lot of outdoor fun.

1. Hop through hula hoops on the ground
2. Take to the basketball hoop for a game of HORSE or Lightning, or shoot until you make 5 free throws or layups
3. Dribble the basketball for 2 minutes straight
4. Swing 20 times on a swing
5. Make a chalk drawing on the driveway
6. Do 5 creative bounces on the trampoline
7. Climb up the rope ladder and go down the slide
8. Climb up the slide backwards
9. Walk heel to toe on top of a jump rope
10. Collect balls from around the yard and throw them in a bucket
11. Make a fitness box out of pool noodles and do 10 jumping jacks or pushups
12. Make a balance beam out of a long 2×4 or log

Try a course that takes your kids around your whole yard. You can start with combinations of a few obstacles and work up to a long course that everyone has to remember. Your kids can judge the winner on both time and accuracy so that memory, coordination, balance, and skill are all part of the game.

Between practicing and learning the courses and actually completing them, your kids will burn through an hour of playtime with no problem. For older kids, add a challenge by having them plan out the courses and design obstacles, and try to work in different features of your playset to provide more variety. Your kids will start to see the backyard in a whole new way!

If you’d like to add something new to your outdoor play area or indoor rec room, Play N’ Learn has a wide range of swing sets, slides, mulch, basketball hoops, trampolines, pool tables, and other play-inspiring fun. Reach out to discuss options for your family.

Why Rubber Mulch Makes Playing Fun — and Keeps Kids Safe

October 17th, 2014 by

Why Rubber Mulch Makes Playing FunWhen setting up your play area, your focus is likely on the cool features of your play set. But equally important is what surrounds your play set. Having proper cushioning and support around your play area is key for keeping your kids safe while running, jumping, swinging, and sliding. That’s why we recommend rubber mulch as your ground material for your play set. Read on for why rubber mulch is our favorite material to keep play time fun.

It’s soft and absorbent
It’s important that your playground flooring protects your kids for the inevitable tumbles that happen during play. Rubber mulch is the most absorbent alternative for play sets, ranking better than wood mulch, gravel, and sand in shock absorption. Your kids will love the springy, cushioned feel of running around on rubber mulch, and if they do fall, they won’t need to worry about splinters or scrapes.

Rubber mulch is resistant to the elements
Rubber mulch does not absorb water like wood mulch, so after rain showers it dries off quickly, and it doesn’t freeze in the winter. That means no slips and falls! On top of that, rubber mulch inhibits mold growth and doesn’t harbor pests, which means there will be no unwanted playmates in your play set with rubber mulch.

It’s recycled and eco-friendly
Our rubber mulch is made from recycled tires and industrial rubber scraps. No trees are destroyed, and items that would normally go to waste are put to good use. The tires used for playground mulch are non-toxic to humans, pets, plants, and flowers, so in addition to being cushioned and comfortable, your playground will be eco-conscious and free of harsh chemicals.

It provides fun for years to come
Once you have rubber mulch, you’re set for up to 10 years. Your kids won’t have to take long play breaks while you set new mulch each season—it’s good to go! It’s also easy to clean and maintain, and the color will stick.

While the topic of what mulch to choose for your play set may not fascinate your kids, they’ll be thanking you later for giving them a safe and durable surface to do all their best playing.

If you’re interested in learning more about our rubber mulch and play set options, please reach out to us.

Get Organized to Start the School Year Strong

August 28th, 2014 by

organizationThe new school year is beginning, and with it comes the struggle of changing your family’s routine from summer camps and unstructured playtime to bus schedules and homework assignments. The first few weeks are tough for everyone, but getting organized can help your family feel prepared to get back to school. We’ve put together some tips to help ease the transition and stay on track.

Get on your new sleep schedule
Your whole family may have grown accustomed to sleeping in late over the summer, but now is the time to readjust your sleep schedules so your alarm clock doesn’t go ignored. Start shifting bedtimes up incrementally by five to ten minutes each night, and help your kids get used to going to sleep and waking up earlier.

Split up chores among the family
With everyone pulled in different directions, your family can lighten the load by splitting up chores. Create a chart on the fridge to keep track of who’s responsible for what, and track when everything gets done. One person can take out the trash, another can set out lunch boxes, and still another can help fold laundry — you get the gist! To take the guesswork out of preparing lunches, have your kids come up with a menu for the week and help you grocery shop.

Make time for work and play
As homework ramps up, your kids will need to figure out a good routine for getting it all done. However, making time for play in between assignments is also crucial for your kids to fit in their daily 60 minutes of exercise and relieve stress after school and homework. Try an after-school routine in which your kids grab a snack, play for an hour, and then do homework for a set amount of time based on how much they can handle. While it’s still light out, try to incorporate outside play breaks between assignments.

Create a master family calendar
Trying to coordinate after-school activities, doctors’ appointments, sports events, and special field trips can feel overwhelming — fast. By creating a master calendar in a central location like the kitchen, you can have a quick visual reference for who’s where (and when). Each member of the family can choose a column and a color to write his or her own activities. For younger kids, make it fun by picking out themed stickers to match certain events like sports games or tests. If your family is more tech-oriented, sync your calendars so you can easily pull up each other’s schedules and get reminders sent to your phone.

We hope your family had a fantastic summer break, and we wish you a wonderful start to the school year!

If you’re looking for ways to keep your kids active and engaged in the after-school hours, Play N’ Learn offers a wide selection of play sets, basketball hoops, and trampolines. Contact us to discuss options for your family.

5 Reasons Families Love Basketball Hoops

July 30th, 2014 by

family playing basketball2We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: We love basketball hoops. They’re fun, they’re versatile, and they don’t take up much space in your driveway or yard. With endless games to play, you can use your basketball hoop for years with your family without getting bored. Read on for our top five reasons why we love basketball hoops.

1. Everyone can play
Whether your family could hit the pro courts tomorrow or you have kids who are just learning to shoot the ball high enough to make a basket, a basketball hoop can be adjusted to meet everyone’s needs. Whatever age, fitness ability, or competition level you need to work with, you can make it happen playing around the basketball hoop. That means it’s something the whole family can do together!

2. Any size group can play
Another great feature of basketball hoops is that they accommodate anything from a solo player to a large group. From free throws and HORSE to full on pick up games, there are plenty of fun games that can incorporate everyone who wants a chance to play.

3. Basketball helps build collaboration skills
Playing basketball, whether in a full game or in smaller groups, helps kids learn to be part of a team and collaborate. In smaller games like HORSE or Lightning, taking turns, being patient, and listening to other players is crucial, and all of these skills make better team players!

4. Basketball helps build motor skills and coordination
Dribbling, lining up the shot, releasing the ball at the right time—it’s a lot to keep track of and requires a good amount of hand-eye coordination and motor skills to sink the shot. For your children, playing around the basketball hoop is a fun way for them to continue developing these skills without even realizing it.

5. Hoops help make new friends
Having a basketball hoop in the driveway is a surefire way to turn your yard into a neighborhood hotspot. Once the neighbors see your kids playing basketball outside, it won’t be long before they start trickling over to join in on the fun. Having a low-stress activity to bond over can help your kids make new friends and create a solid social network based around a healthy activity.

If you don’t have a basketball hoop already, what are you waiting for? It’s a great investment that will last until your kids are out of the house. And if you already have a hoop, why not head out today and get a game going?

View our wide range of hoop options, and get in touch to start the conversation about how we can help your family make the right pick.

5 Ways to Beat the Rainy Day Blues

July 1st, 2014 by

Boy in Rain While it may be nice most of the summer, inevitably, there will be rainy days that put a damper on everyone’s mood. When that happens, don’t let the rain slow you down—try these fun, energy-boosting activities that turn rainy days into real adventures.

1. Burn some energy at an indoor activity center
While your playground may be out of commission on a rainy day, that doesn’t mean there isn’t playing to be done. Visit an indoor activity center, like a roller skating rink, laser tag facility, a rock climbing wall, a trampoline park, or one of Play N Learn’s own indoor showrooms where your kids can play on our showroom playsets, trampolines, and basketball hoops. All of these options will help you meet (or exceed!) the recommended 60 minutes of exercise every day.

2. Attend a local rec center class
Rainy days are a great reason to see what programs your local gym or community center have to offer. Frequently, there are family or kid-friendly classes available, such as a family yoga class or sports skills clinics for the kids. Visit your recreation center in person, and discover all kinds of great activities to attend all summer long!

3. Have a dance-off in your living room
Who needs to go outside when you have the best dance floor in town in your living room? A dance-off is a sure way to get the whole family having fun and let off some steam at the same time. If you have a dance-reluctant child, he or she can act as the DJ. See how many dance moves you and your kids can make up during one song, or try to choreograph and learn a family dance together.

4. Do a walk-a-thon at your shopping mall
While the endless corridors of your local shopping mall may seem like a curse during the holidays, they make for a great exercise option when the weather isn’t cooperating. Load the family up and try a walk-a-thon at the mall. You can measure your distance in laps or minutes, or split the family up into teams and do a relay or a scavenger hunt. Walking in the mall can help you look at it in a whole new way.

5. Go get wet!
As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” Grab your raincoats and rain boots and turn those rainy day lemons into rainy day lemonade, with a no-holding-back puddle jumping party. The whole neighborhood will be splashing around by the time you’re done!

It’s not so bad having a rainy day here and there if you know what to do with it: play! So the next time the skies open, rally the troops and make the most of the opportunity to do something outside the box, despite being inside.

Do you live in the Maryland or Virginia area? Visit one of our indoor play centers for a day of active fun.

Four Outdoor Games the Whole Neighborhood Can Play

June 6th, 2014 by

Bike Riding in the StreetWith school coming to a close, you may be wondering how your kids will transition from having most of their day scheduled to having more free time. While that thought can be intimidating, it’s also a great opportunity for your kids to start taking responsibility for making their own schedule of activities.

A great way to keep your kids active is to encourage them to start a summer “play league” that involves ongoing games and activities with friends and neighbors. Summer play leagues have a host of benefits, not the least of which is that it combines learning and physical fitness with our favorite thing: playing! Here, we’ve collected some of our favorite summer games that your kids can implement in their own neighborhood.

1. Capture the Flag
A summertime classic, Capture the Flag is a great game for medium to large size groups. There’s no special equipment required — all you need are two socks to use as flags and a consenting house with a front and back yard to split into sides.

Capture the Flag is a great after-dinner game for cooler evening weather. Your kids can set a time, like 7 p.m., with the other neighborhood kids for everyone to meet up at a designated house. This game is also great for organizing groups and learning to resolve conflict, as disputes about the rules are not at all uncommon!

2. Kickball or Baseball
All you need for a great kickball or baseball game is a cul-de-sac or grassy field. Using mailboxes or sidewalk chalk drawings as bases (or sticks or rocks if you’re on a field), your kids can form neighborhood teams and play together all summer long. Often, these games form on their own — or evolve out of a few kids getting together to play catch. Whatever the case, it doesn’t take long for the rest of the neighbors to get in on the action, and a proper game is in full swing.

3. Dodgeball
A friendly game of dodgeball is a sure way to get kids outside and ready to play. Plus, neighborhood parents can play, too! Put your kids in charge of making sure the teams are equally matched, and have them collect and bring a soft assortment of balls to use. Then meet up in a spacious back yard, and let the games begin! To encourage fair play and help your kids learn to resolve conflicts, have them take turns being referees and making sure everyone is playing fair.

4. Riding Bikes
Your kids can set a time during the day to go on a group bike ride around the neighborhood. Older kids can map out a route and figure out the distance, and everyone can make maps together. And you can make it a bigger event by meeting the kids at the end of the route with a drink and a snack.

In addition to getting in a good workout and outdoor air, your kids will learn how to plan ahead and follow a route — while also communicating their route in a way they can understand.

Looking for ways to add fun and fitness to your yard this summer? Play N’ Learn can help. Contact us today to learn how.

Bring the Park to Your Own Back Yard

May 6th, 2014 by

Now that spring plants are in full bloom and the animals are back from their winter vacations, it’s a great time for your family to become park rangers in your own back yard. Teaching your kids about the natural world surrounding them will help them sharpen their observation skills—and notice details they may have missed but only have to step outside to see. To get started on becoming at-home park rangers, try these tips.


1. Head to the local library to get guidebooks

During a trip to your library, check out books on flora and fauna local to your area. There will be lots of options to choose from, so encourage your kids to spend some time browsing—and to pick those they can understand and enjoy. Then head out to the back yard, and see if your kids can match what they find with the pictures in the books. How many can they find?

2. Have an outdoor exploration session

With the guidebooks in hand, have a park ranger exploration session. Everyone can grab a notebook and pencil and walk around the yard or neighborhood. Reconvene in an hour, and compare what flowers and vegetation you saw. If you have cameras, you can also practice taking photos with your kids to capture each new find. Did you all see the same types of plants? Were there some that stuck out as unusual or not native to the region? What might those be?

3. Put up a bird feeder or suet

To attract more wildlife to your back yard for observation, put up a birdfeeder or hang suet from your feeder so your yard becomes a hot spot for birds and squirrels. A hummingbird feeder is also fun. If you hang one, spend some time identifying throat colors and watching the tiny birds buzzing around the feeder.

Use your guidebooks to see what kind of food the birds in your area like to eat, and then fill your feeders accordingly—and watch as they flock to get their fill. How long will it take them to eat the entire amount?

4. Add a new plant to your garden

Your kids can read about different kinds of plants or flowers indigenous to your area, and choose one to investigate and grow in your yard. Once they make a selection, head to your local nursery to buy the plant, and then dig a hole and plant the new addition in your yard. Where will the plant get enough sun or shade? What kind of soil will it thrive in? Does it need water right away?

Help your kids do research to answer these questions and learn how to water and take care of the plant. Then sit back and enjoy watching the plant grow up alongside your kids!

Once your kids have the hang of the back yard, you can take your park ranger routine to a trail with different plants and more wildlife to see. Getting your kids outside and observing what makes up their surroundings is a great way for them to exercise their minds and their bodies at the same time. What nature activities do your family enjoy? Let us know in the comments!

Spring into Warmer Weather with a Trampoline

April 7th, 2014 by

Spring is officially here, and while the weather is still figuring that out, now is the time to start thinking about all of the fun things you can do with the longer days and warmer temperatures. Here at Play N’ Learn’s Playground Superstores, we can’t wait to get back outdoors on our trampolines. Don’t have a trampoline? Read on for why a trampoline makes a great addition to your backyard.

1. Trampolines offer endless fun

Who doesn’t love bouncing up and down? The fact of the matter is that jumping on a trampoline is just plain fun. Kids love it, adults love it, and that’s never going to change.

Whether you’re alone or with friends, trampolines offer endless fun and entertainment. You can play classic games like dodge ball or tag — or challenge your friends to few rounds of “Crack the Egg,” where one person (the egg) curls up in a ball in the middle, and everyone else bounces around trying to crack it.

Have your kids get creative by inventing new games — with a big open space for bouncing, they’ll rise to the challenge, for sure.

2. Trampolines keep us healthy and fit
Even better than the fun is that jumping on a trampoline is good for you — and can improve your cardiovascular strength, coordination, and bone and muscle strength. In fact, trampolines provide such great aerobic exercise that astronauts and athletes use them for training purposes. And in 1999, trampolining even became an official sport of the summer Olympics!

On top of that, jumping on a trampoline is low impact — and in just 10 to 20 minutes, you can burn the same amount of calories you burn from 30 minutes of jogging, without the wear and tear on your joints.

3. Trampolines fit almost any size of yard

Trampolines come in many shapes and sizes, from smaller eight-feet circles to larger rectangles or jumbo squares. So you can get one that fits the area you have available — all you really need is some level ground.

With the many size options come a number of design choices. Our AlleyOOP trampolines, for instance, come with a basketball hoop, while our revolutionary Springfree trampolines hide the frame beneath the jumping surface.

4. Trampolines come with safety features

All Play N’ Learn trampolines come with built-in safety features, including a net to reduce the risk of falling. Our AlleyOOP trampoline uses bounce technology to make it safer for multiple jumpers to jump without knocking each other off balance. And our Springfree trampolines are designed to prevent jumpers from landing on any potentially hard surfaces. Each design aims to minimize the risk associated with jumping so you can focus on the fun.

But the fun doesn’t end with jumping. With add-ons like basketball hoops and tents for trampoline sleepovers, you’ll never run out of things to do on your trampoline. It’s a simple concept that will never get old.

If you don’t have a trampoline waiting for you in your backyard, why not? Get in touch, and we can help you find the right fit.


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