Kinderspielplatz Part 2: Form Follows Function

Thrifty Travel Mama | Expat Life - PlaygroundsThe creativity of the German Kinderspielplatz planners excites me.  Though I have been known to swing or slide a bit, I’m not into playgrounds more than my kids.  But what I am into is design.  Most parks here have at least one attraction or piece of equipment beyond the standard slide and swings.  And even the swings are not what we would consider standard in America.

Each playground seems to have an element that fits the lay of the land.  Slides are built into the hill, drain pipes are repurposed as transport to other worlds, etc.  I may be adding to my look-at-that picture file every time I visit a new park in this country.

The Drain Pipe Secret Passage

Grab a buddy, hold on to the knotted rope, and follow the line leader (that’s me!) to take a tour of the schtuff for kiddos in Germany.

Basket Swings

The first thing I noticed is that almost every playground has a basket swing.  These are primarily used by babies but other big and small children (as well as big and small adults) can use them too.  You can sit in there with your child (provided you have someone else push you who is responsible enough to not get whacked in the head) or pile in a group of friends.  Apparently swinging is not something to attempt alone in your first years of life.

Teeter Totter

The teeter totters are not for loners here – find some friends and bounce along.  You could fit three plump American kids or four skinny German kids on each side.


Of course, I have seen the old skool merry-go-round or two.  But this is a spiffy new-fangled one that is level with the ground.  No breaking your arm as you jump off before Mama can get there.

Tire Swing

One A+++++ park nearby has this lawsuit-waiting-t0-happen tire swing.  If you close your eyes real tight, you might actually think you’re whizzing down the zip-line in Costa Rica… at least until you hear, “MAMA!  I have to go pee pee REALLY BAD!”

Climbing Web

SpiderMan aint’ got nuthin’ on this doubly dangerous climbing web.  When I see these things, I get some wicked scary 5th grade flashbacks.  But I snap out of it when I see T-Rex morphing into a manic monkey trying to see how high he (and my blood pressure) can go.

Water Pump

These hot-off-the-set-of-Dr-Quinn-Medicine-Woman water pumps are the absolute favorite feature of all for T-Rex.  If he knew what Christmas was and that you are supposed to ask for something expensive, gigantic, and completely inconvenient, he would totally put one of these at the top of his list.  Yes, the pump actually works, and yes it makes some serious mud.  And no, I have not found a suitable substitute for Shout.

The Rubber Pants

Remember the rubber pants from the Flohmarkt?  These are sanity- and laundry-saving for the mamas.  T-Rex might love the water features but Screech loooooooooves the sand.  And every German playground has sand.  Dirty, icky, wet, sand.

Bucket Loader

And just in case you thought we were done with the water and the sand, it gets even better.  The mess-making is not confined to one neat and orderly corner of the playground.  No, we have to carry it clear across the park, pour it in a bucket and lift it up above one’s head.  I somehow missed the sign that said “warning, be prepared for an impromptu sand shower when your uncoordinated two year-old’s friend dumps a load down the pipe and completely misses the bucket.”

The Canon

At the park halfway up the mountain, T-Rex discovered a metal cannon.  Totally great for shouting.  And amplifying.  And echoing.  And headaches.

Pirate Ship Park (Little Kid Side)

Pirate Ship Park (Big Kid Side)

German kids are obsessed with pirates.  Okay, who am I kidding?  All kids are obsessed with pirates.  I might even have a soft spot in my heart for pirates.  Well, the swashbuckling kid fiction kind anyway.  Not the scary, fear-for-your-life, Horn of Africa kind.

Triple Threat

My playground features tour would not be complete without mentioning slides.  This beast above is not just any ol’ slide.  It’s three-in-one, a triple threat of broken bones, skinned faces, and new-found addiction to thrill.  This picture doesn’t do the scale justice.  Let’s suffice it to say that T-Rex could not climb up himself and even I had difficulty getting up inside this thing.  It’s that BIG.  And that RAD.

What was your favorite feature?  If you could design something for a kids’ playground, what would it be?

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