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What is a Jungle Gym?

Mary Elizabeth
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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A jungle gym is a piece of playground exercise equipment designed to be played on safely by children. The name has both a generic and a specific use. Generically, it may refer to any of a number of equipment designs on which children climb and perform imaginative play, or which they transform into a fort, castle, or other structure for their purposes. The specific Junglegym was a particular piece of play equipment created with sturdily connected bars, that was designed in 1920 by a lawyer named Sebastian Hinton and patented by him.

With the jungle gym, Hinton aimed to give children a safe environment to climb in, noting that such facilities were often not available to them. He also envisioned other types of movement, such as swinging and crouching, and purposes, such as playing tag or interspersing climbing and swimming. He also made his plans open-ended, in order for the size to accommodate the size of the children who would use it.

Hinton designed the jungle gym to allow movement in all directions through a series of cubes, so that a child could go straight up, to the side, in a zig zag pattern, or any other directional choice, and always have plentiful supports on which to steady him- or herself. Thinking about the possibility of a fall, he determined that crossed ropes should be secured across the bottom level of all the lowest cubes for additional safe footing.

While Hinton envisioned his creation being used on playgrounds, generic jungle gym equipment is also now frequently found in backyards. Some contemporary equipment does use rope, but most have open bottoms, and help protect children by placing the equipment on a suitable, specially prepared surface, such as wood chips or other specialized material.

There are many variations in jungle gym size and shape, with some equipment having multiple parts for climbing, swinging, sliding, crawling, balancing, etc., and others being geared to narrower purposes. Some companies invite consumers to contribute to the design of the jungle gym that they take home.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for HomeQuestionsAnswered, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.

Discussion Comments

By discographer — On Dec 12, 2013

@fBoyle-- Yes, I have one. It's simple but it works. I actually made it myself with poles, posts and bars. I can do pull ups on them and swing from one bar to the next. It's good exercise. Some public parks have adult sized ones, so you don't necessarily have to make your own. I heard that they are very common in China and many people studying martial arts exercise on them.

A jungle gym can be made for anyone really -- for adults, children and even for pets. I know that they have miniature wooden jungle gym for pet birds.

By fBoyle — On Dec 11, 2013

I know about kids' jungle gym, but is there such a thing as an adults' jungle gym. Does anyone have one?

By donasmrs — On Dec 11, 2013

I loved playing on the outdoor jungle gym when I was a kid. My brother and I could spend hours playing on it. Not only was it fun, but I think it helped us with flexibility and strength. It was a great way to release energy.

My kids have a more contemporary one right now in our yard. It has a slide and swings, in addition to the climbing frames. It's very nice.

Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth

Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for HomeQuestionsAnswered, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
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