Jungle gym
The jungle gym, monkey bars, or climbing frame, is a piece of playground
A playground or play area is a place with a specific design for children be able to play there. It may be indoors but is typically outdoors...

 equipment made of many pieces of material, such as metal pipe
Plumbing is the system of pipes and drains installed in a building for the distribution of potable drinking water and the removal of waterborne wastes, and the skilled trade of working with pipes, tubing and plumbing fixtures in such systems. A plumber is someone who installs or repairs piping...

 or rope
A rope is a length of fibres, twisted or braided together to improve strength for pulling and connecting. It has tensile strength but is too flexible to provide compressive strength...

, on which children can climb, hang, or sit. The monkey bar designation refers to the rambunctious, climbing play of monkey
A monkey is a primate, either an Old World monkey or a New World monkey. There are about 260 known living species of monkey. Many are arboreal, although there are species that live primarily on the ground, such as baboons. Monkeys are generally considered to be intelligent. Unlike apes, monkeys...



The first jungle gym was invented in 1920 and patented by lawyer Sebastian Hinton in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

. It was sold under the trademarked name Junglegym. The term "monkey bars", was first documented in 1955, though Hinton's initial patent of 1920 appeals to the "monkey instinct" in claiming the benefits of climbing
Climbing is the activity of using one's hands and feet to ascend a steep object. It is done both for recreation and professionally, as part of activities such as maintenance of a structure, or military operations.Climbing activities include:* Bouldering: Ascending boulders or small...

 as exercise and play
Play (activity)
Play is a term employed in ethology and psychology to describe to a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities normally associated with pleasure and enjoyment...

 for children, and his improvement patents later that year refer to monkeys shaking the bars of a cage, children swinging on a "monkey runway", and the game of "monkey tag". Hinton's father, a mathematician, had built a similar structure from bamboo when Hinton was a child; his father's goal was to enable children to achieve an intuitive understanding of 3-dimensional space through a game in which numbers for the x, y, and z axes were called out and each child tried to be the first to grasp the indicated junction. Thus the abstraction of Cartesian coordinates could be grasped as a name of a tangible point in space.

Hinton's second prototype jungle gym is still standing at Crow Island School
Crow Island School
Crow Island School is an elementary school significant for its progressive philosophy and its architecture. The design of its building was a collaboration between the Chicago firm of Perkins, Wheeler and Will and Eero Saarinen...



Large, metal, geometric-shaped jungle gyms were once common on playgrounds, but they sometimes led to injuries when children hit their heads on the bars or swung on them improperly, causing bruises, sprains and fractures. Newer jungle gyms are often made of alternative materials, including PVC, other plastics, rope varieties, wood/pipe and other materials. Non-metallic jungle gyms have the advantage of being user-friendly even on a very hot or very cold day, because they do not get too hot or too cold to the touch. Jungle gyms and monkey bars made of PVC and plastic flex when struck; absorbing the impact better than a more-rigid metal models. PVC and plastic will not rust, even in the wettest of climates.

Geodesic-shaped jungle gyms (monkey bars) provide benefits over ladder-rung models because they develop a broader range of muscles, including those in the legs and abdomen, in addition to the traditional development of arm muscles. Geodesics also develop eye-hand coordination, planning skills, and other benefits. A geodesic allows a child to rest before continuing on - with minimum effort; a benefit not afforded by ladder-rung-type bars. Some studies even suggest that a geodesic can improve a child's math and reading skills.

Jungle gym shapes may include wooden platforms with ladders and railings around the outer edges. A variety of shapes are seen in school playgrounds, parks, and backyards, including geodesics, rocket-shaped structures, and other configurations.

One common type of jungle gym is a row of overhead bars, high enough for a child to hang from, but not so high as to cause serious injury in a fall. A child can "walk" hand-over-hand from one end to the other.


To reduce the risk of injury from falls, jungle gym areas often have a thick layer of wood
Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...

 chips or other impact-absorbing material covering the ground; the National Safety Council
National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is a 501 nonprofit, nongovernmental public service organization dedicated to protecting life and promoting health. Headquartered in Itasca, Illinois, NSC is a member organization, founded in 1913 and granted a congressional charter in 1953...

recommends that playgrounds have at least 12 inches (30 cm) of such material.
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