Three Alternatives to Trampolining For Kids

Summer is here and that means that the kids are going to want to be outside playing as long as the sun is up. While that can be a whole lot of fun, you’re going to want to make sure that they have things to do which are exciting, safe, and accessible.

While a back yard trampoline, with the right kinds of considerations, can be most of these, the high quality ones can get pretty expensive. It would be nice to be able to provide that kind of activity for your kids, but if it’s just outside of your budget, then here are some alternatives which can also be fun but won’t break the bank.


There’s still something incredibly enjoyable about a swing set. Not only does it give your kids the same sense of weightlessness that they get with a trampoline, they are generally easier to set up, cost less, and take up less room in the yard.

A basic wooden swing that is suspended from a sturdy tree branch can cost as little as $30 pre-made and even less if you make it yourself (though be sure that you use good quality materials and look up the right knots to tie it off with on both ends.

A full swing set with multiple swings can often run a couple of hundred dollars, but also tend to be stronger and will last longer in bad weather. In some cases, they come with seats for smaller children who haven’t learned how to keep themselves upright quite yet and may include additional equipment like a slide.

And speaking of slides…

Slip and Slide

While “Slip n’ Slide” is a registered trademark, the concept of the slip and slide is much older and more common. All it is, at its core, is a piece of slick plastic which has water running over it. Many of the manufactured ones, including the Wham-O version, have a sheath on the side with small holes in it that can be attached to a regular garden hose. By turning on the hose, it fills the sheath and lets several consistent streams of water run over the rest of the slip and slide, making it slick enough to slide down at high rates of speed.

The trick with a slip and slide is that there has to be a constant stream of water running over it to make sure that it stays slick. This is especially true in the summer when plastic sheeting can dry in less than a minute and heat up just as quickly, turning a fun afternoon of sliding around the yard into a miserable afternoon wondering whether it was the burning plastic or friction that hurt more.

Several advanced forms of the slip and slide include additional features like an inflatable kiddy pool at the end to slide into, open gateways that pour water onto you as you pass through, and even retractable chords which pull you down to the end even faster than if you were to just jump. These are great for keeping the kids active.

If you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, however…

Back Yard Games

There are some great games that can be safely and inexpensively played almost anywhere with enough room.

Maybe the most common option is Horseshoes, a simple throwing game where you take horseshoes and try to throw them over a set space so that they land near or around a stake put in the ground. It’s a game that’s centuries old and, despite its simple appearance, can be a lot of fun to learn and play.

Kubb is starting to gain a lot of popularity as well. This Swedish game involves two teams who set up four wooden blocks each on either side of a “king” block in the center. The objective is to use smaller wooden sticks to knock down the opposing team’s blocks, then knock down the king. There are a few complexities to the rules, particularly in how you can get blocks back for your side, but it’s still simple to learn and a lot of fun to play. Moreover, it can be made at home with a square 2×2, a long wooden dowel, and a saw to cut them into smaller pieces.

Plenty to Do

Whether you’re not comfortable buying a trampoline for your family, you can’t afford a quality one, or yours just needs some maintenance before you let the kids have at it, there are still plenty of options for fun summer play.

Rick Mason