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Custom and Themed Playground Design Ideas

You can transform a drab play area into a wonderland for kids with inspiring themed playgrounds. With innumerable options, you may need some help in choosing one. If you opt for a customized playground design, you may need some inspiration for choosing themes and other customization options. Whichever path you choose on your adventure to playground creation, you can get ideas and assistance along the way.

Benefits of Using Themed Playgrounds or Custom Design Options

Both themed and custom playgrounds have benefits for their creation and use. Kids get a play space to enjoy that prompts them to use their imaginations. The experience of playing in a fantasy world created by the theme of a playground is part of the magic of play that you can make possible for kids.

1. Playground Themes Make Choosing Elements Easier

Choosing the structures and other elements feels effortless when you know the colors and theme for your playground. You’ll already have the design side covered and only need to select the types of play that your play space will provide kids.

Just as the theme should meet kids’ tastes, the elements should also pair well with the age range of those who will use the playground. With playground structures targeted for toddlers, elementary school children, and all ages up to 12, you can easily find the right type of playground equipment that fits your theme and the kids’ age group.

2. Themes Inspire Creativity in Play

Every kid has an imagination. Sometimes, they need a little inspiration to help them to use it during play. Playground themes make it easier for all kids to improve their creativity. The themes can help them to create stories for acting out as they play. For instance, kids playing on a boat-themed playground may imagine themselves as pirates going to bury their treasure. The kids may take a different role in the narrative of members of a ship going to save people attacked by pirates.

3. Custom Play Spaces Allow for Inclusive Playgrounds

If you choose to create a customized playground design, you can include kids of all abilities through building an inclusive playground. They encourage kids to build social skills and empathy for others through interactive play on the playground.

4. Themed Playgrounds Can Match Your Facility

You can choose any theme to match your facility’s application. For instance, nature centers can opt for nature-themed playgrounds. Baseball fields may choose sport-themed play spaces. The sky is the limit when it comes to finding themes for a playground. So, look for ideas to pair well with your site.

5. Custom Playgrounds Give You Exactly What You Need for Your Facility

Whatever your facility needs, custom-designed playgrounds can meet your requirements. Whether you need a playground with a small footprint or one that caters to toddlers, you can find plenty of customized options. Instead of adapting your site and funds to the playground size or cost, you can create a play area that will fit your facility and budget requirements.

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Choosing Playground Designs to Suit Your Facility Needs

When selecting themed playgrounds or customized options, first, think of what your facility and the kids who will use the space need.

Consider the amount of space that you need. Playgrounds with small footprints, such as MaxPlay® or Play Builders®, give kids more fun in a smaller space. These options will often pair well with tighter budgets.

Your budget will also help you to select playground designs to suit your space. However, don’t feel constrained if you have a smaller amount to spend on a playground. Funding options can supplement your existing finances to make the playground a reality.

Next, think about the ages and abilities of the kids playing on the playground. You may consider playgrounds that cater to several age groups if toddlers and elementary school students will play in the area. If you want to give toddlers a safe place to play, you may want to have a separate toddler-sized playground to let them have their own space designed for their play needs.

Our playground representatives can walk you through the options, especially if you want to customize your playground, to ensure that you have a design to meet the needs of the kids who will use it and your facility.

Themed Playground Ideas

Themed playgrounds make the space more fun and encourage creative play. Find inspiration for your themed play space from completed projects. You can also browse through the many choices available. Plus, with customized options, the possibilities are almost limitless for the colors, themes, and designs you use on your playground.

1. Animal Antics

Kids love animals. With animal-themed playgrounds, they can play alongside cats and dogs, birds, frogs, or an entire zoo. With animals as the focal point for the playground, you can also use elements related to the animals’ habitats.

For example, if you have a water animal-themed playground and want may use decorative elements such as seashells. For jungle animals, consider palm tree decorated supports. If you want to use farm animals as the topic, consider a barn-themed structure. For pet-themed spaces, you may want to include small playhouses near the playground.

2. Castles and Fantasy

With a castle-themed playground, kids become knights, kings, princes, princesses, and dragons as they act out medieval fantasies. When kids work together in common imaginary play, they learn how to interact with others and build social skills.

Plus, with this type of theme, every kid has a part in the play. Kids can play as knights or royalty however they please, acting out their favorite fantasy books and movies. So, play at a castle-themed playground can accommodate kids in small or large groups.

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3. Community-Centered Play

Your community can become the inspiration for the playground theme. For instance, if your town has a well-known landmark, such as a downtown area or river walk, center the theme around that with customized printed designs to feature the element.

You can also integrate other features into the community-themed playground, such as flags or informational plaques to describe the history of your area.

4. Firetrucks

Kids love big vehicles, such as firetrucks. When you have a firetruck theme for your playground, kids can act out their dreams of becoming real-life heroes as they fight fires, rescue cats, or respond to emergencies.

This type of playground can inspire kids to learn more about becoming emergency responders and have more respect for those in the position. The pretend play they engage in on this type of playground today could lead to a career in firefighting in the future.

Even kids who don’t want to become firefighters can still pretend to go on exciting rescue missions on the playground firetruck.

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5. Time for Takeoff!

Airports are not as exciting for adults as they are for kids. Kids love to watch the planes take off and experience the feeling of adventure with each departure. An airplane theme for a playground puts kids in the cockpit of a large plane to pretend that they are flying to new locations. Where they go in their imaginations is up to them. They could travel to another city or take their plane to an imaginary place.

An airplane as the central playground structure makes the rest of the playground an airport. Kids can use a separate piece as a control tower while another kid directs the plane from the ground. With airplanes, kids tap into their love of big transportation equipment. Plus, they have the chance to engage in social play with others to transform the setting into an airport or a plane to take everyone to an imaginary place of their choosing.

6. Natural Adventures

Why not give kids the chance to engage in pretend play that gives them the feeling of having outdoor adventures, such as rock climbing? Adding a rock pile climber to a playground can turn kids into mountain climbers. To further add to the sense of nature for kids, use leaf roofs for shade that create the appearance of forest trees towering over them.

This playground theme works well for a recreational center, nature center, or arboretum play area. Supplement the artificial trees with natural trees and shrubs outside the playground area. Putting trees on the edges of the playground keeps the space clear of leaves and branches that may fall from them and clutter the play area.

7. Larger-Than-Life Nature

Bugs fascinate kids, especially ladybugs and beetles. Why not design a playground around these fascinating crawlers? Use larger-than-life elements such as giant grass blades and flowers to make kids feel that they are the size of bugs used in the playground.

Climbers resembling bugs or rocks put kids into the element of roaming through the grass with ants, bees, beetles, and ladybugs. Using giant bugs or leaves as design options adds to the atmosphere of exploring a backyard from a bug’s perspective. Kids can pretend to be ladybugs, ants, or mice as they play on the playground. With this type of fantastical theme, kids have a chance to exercise their imaginations while they build physical abilities and social skills.

Nature centers and outdoor recreational areas may find the bug theme connects to getting kids interested in nature while giving them a place for social play.

8. Pirates Ahoy!

ship-themed playground places kids on the high seas. The surfacing turns into the ocean and the playground into a large ship, where kids can be pirates or other seafaring adventurers. They can act out cooperative play by steering the ship-themed play area or swabbing the imaginary deck.

Imaginary play on the play structure that looks like a ship can extend beyond the structure. Kids may use a slide to leave the ship and travel to an imaginary island. A shade covering with palm trees can represent the island hiding the treasure. Kids can take the ship theme and extend it into numerous adventures for themselves or others they meet on the playground.

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9. Dinosaur Park

Kids love dinosaurs, and a dinosaur-themed playground is a good option when you feel stumped for something to appeal to a wide range of ages. When theming the playground around dinosaurs, kids can imagine the beasts as gentle giants or scary adversaries. Adding jungle-themed elements turns the play area into a dinosaur habitat for kids to explore. Vehicle elements can provide kids with a way to pretend to drive through the area to find dinosaurs or escape ones that chase them.

10. The Old West

Using a Western town theme can let kids explore the Old West. They can become sheriffs, deputies, or other law enforcers in the town. In these roles, they can pretend to uphold the law and protect the people of the Old West playground town. They may even pretend to be horses and run around the play area.

Several themed elements, such as corral panels, can make a playground resemble a Western town. The more of these accessories you incorporate, the easier a time kids have envisioning the area as a Frontier town.

11. Tropical Island

Kids can enjoy a getaway to a tropical island, even if the experience is only in their imagination. A tropical-themed playground incorporates elements such as palm trees and thatched roof shade covers. These provide a relaxed place for kids to pretend that they are having a day at the beach.

To add to the bright tropical theme, you could choose neon colors for some components or decor. Or, you may want to stick to greens and blues to maintain the tropical feel. Tropical themes also pair well with ship elements and underwater-themed equipment. Therefore, with a tropical-themed play area, you have multiple options to add to the overall appearance, making this a highly versatile choice for your playground.

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12. Journey to the Stars

Kids become astronauts when they have a playground with a rocket ship and other space exploration vehicles. With a space theme, kids can find aliens, explore distant planets, and still be home in time for dinner, thanks to their imaginations sparked by the outer space design of the playground.

A space shuttle or rocket play area with rocks nearby lets kids pretend to rocket off to the moon and explore the rocks as the moon landing base. Or, the kids may imagine the rocks as aliens that look like rocks and attempt communication with them. Giving kids the chance to become astronauts for an afternoon and stretch their imaginations is the benefit of having a space theme for your playground.

13. Tiny Town

Kids love to play as adults. With a tiny town that includes small playhouses and shops, kids can do just that on the playground. With village-themed design elements, such as picket fence panels, they can pretend to be members of a functioning town. As with castle pretend play, tiny towns have roles for every kid who wants to participate in the activity. Kids can take roles as mail deliverers, mayors, shop owners, and other community members. This theme creates a cooperative environment that gives kids the chance to pretend to be grown-ups for a while.

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14. Let’s Make Music

Kids should have a chance to be loud somewhere. Channeling their need to make noise into playing music gives them a creative outlet while appealing to one aspect of sensory play. Music-themed play components with large musical notes and instruments designed for smaller hands can turn a group of kids on the playground into a hit rock band in their imaginations.

Having the chance to play music on a playground can also impart a love for music to kids from a young age. Over time, they may find that they want to learn to play instruments, leading to a lifetime of musical education and enjoyment.


15. Leaving the Station!

While steam trains are no longer the popular form of transportation that they once were, rail systems remain fun in kids’ eyes. With train-theming on a playground, such as gear panels, you can turn a traditional setup into a train that takes kids wherever their imaginations lead them.

Kids can pretend the train is from their favorite books or movies, entering fantastical faraway places or the Old West. These trains and the theme can contribute to kids’ imaginative stories as they play on the playground.

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16. Farm Fun

Give kids a place to enjoy old-fashioned fun with a farm theme for the playground. These themes are ideal for play areas with interactive farm fun. Creating a playground with elements to make the structure resemble a barn and silos can make the play area a fun space for kids.

They can pretend to be farmers and pitch hay or harvest vegetables. Or, they might want to imagine themselves as farm animals and practice their mooing, clucking, neighing, and oinking.

Embrace a Themed or Custom Playground Design With Little Tikes Commercial

Become a kid again as you explore theming options for your playground. Imagine the jungle landscapes or outer space adventures your new playground will bring to the minds of the kids who use it.

Once you’ve selected the playground that you want, get a quote from us at Little Tikes Commercial. Or, find a rep for assistance in customizing your playground and choosing a fun-filled theme. With help from our themed or custom-designed playgrounds, you can bring the joy and excitement of play to every kid.