Earlier this week when I posted some picture of our school rooms, I had quite a few people interested in the jungle gym of Damien’s (14 months) that I pictured.
We built it for Damien for Christmas (he was six months old at the time) and so far it has served us well, stood up to lots of use (including plenty of use by daycare kids) and has proved to be as multi-functional and creativity-spurring as our original plans intended it to be.
What is it? Well basically it is just a little frame made out of PVC pipe (3/4in thick). We made ours with mostly two-foot long pieces, so it stands about two feet tall and has an inside area of 2ft x 2ft (plus two little bars on one side that stick out one foot for support).
The features of the jungle gym:
- Toy Bar: for newborns on up it works as a toy bar to hang toys from above and to the sides for baby to look at, hit at, kick at, and for older babies, to crawl through, pull on, and swing. It also provides a barrier to help protect baby from people and pets walking around.
- Climber, Crawl Space, and Walking Support: Low bars for babies who are learning how to stand to pull up on and “cruise” (walk with support) on. Spaces on sides to crawl and climb through for all ages.
- Monkey Bars: Overhead bars for little ones to hang from, swing on, and use for walking support.
- Enclosed Play Space: for pretend play, climbing, and so on.
- Soccer Goal: Open side makes a great goal for playing soccer and other games.
- Basketball: “Monkey bar” spaces can be used as a basketball hoop.
- Fort: Throw a blanket over the top and it creates an instant fort.
I am sure there are many other uses that your kids can think of for it. I know with mine it has served as a great prop in all sorts of games (particularly with balls), pretend play (is has served as “store shelves”, “checkout counters”, “a forest”, and more) and just a favorite spot to hang out and play in.
It is very simple to build. Here are the supplies you will need:
- 3/4in thick PVC pipe pieces (2ft long each, 13 pipes in all)
- A hot glue gun
- Your choice of colored or patterned duct tape, to wrap around the poles for decoration as well as protection from the unpleasant PVC chemicals (my original plan was to use plastic paint, but beware: all the plastic paints I could find were toxic)
- 3/4in thick PVC pipe connectors (2 corner pieces, 6 three-prong corner pieces, 10 “T” pieces)
- A hammer (to pound the pipes in the connectors after you add the hot glue)
- A saw (to cut the PVC pipes)
- A ruler (for cutting PVC pipes)
- A pencil (to mark where you need to cut)
So here is the basic outline of the jungle gym as well as the length for each piece.
- Take your 14 PVC pipes and set aside 3 of them (they will stay 2-feet long and don’t need to be cut)
- Take 8 PVC pipes and cut them in half (to a length of 1-foot long each, for a total of 16 1ft pieces)
- Take 1 of the PVC pipes and cut two 11-inch pieces out of it
- Take another one of the PVC pipes and cut it into three pieces: two 7in pieces and one 8in piece. Repeat this step with the final pipe. (You will then have four 7in pieces and two 8in pieces)
After you have assembled it and gotten a feel for how it all fits together, you are going to want to make it permanent and glue the pipes to the connectors. This part is a little tricky since the glue dries somewhat fast so once you put the glue in the hole, you will want to get the pipe in pretty quickly, make sure it is all the way in, and make sure the pieces are straight.
One at a time, spread hot glue around the insides of the connectors. Next, stick the pipes in. Then use a hammer to pound the top of the pipe make sure it goes all the way in. The glue makes the fit a little more snug so a hammer will help to make sure it’s secure.
Another thing you want to do is to make sure that the connectors are EVEN before the glue dries. This is really important for the bottom side pieces as well as the sides to the monkey bars, and so on. For instance in the above picture I have shown the bottom pieces. The connectors both need to be sticking straight up otherwise the glue will dry and the rest of the pieces won’t fit in properly. A good way to tell if they are even is to lay them on the floor and rotate the connectors until both are flat on the ground (as shown).
After you have it all assembled, wrap the edges with your choice of duct tape, and enjoy!
If you made this for your child, I would love to hear about what kind of creative uses for it your family has come up with or what type of things you are planning to use it for.
“And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them.” 1 Kings 1:40
Damien is currently 14 months, 1 week old, and loves to use this to climb in, around, and under, hang from the overhead bars, throw balls through the top, and join in fort building fun with his big brother