7 Playground Photos That Will Strike Fear in the Heart of ’80s Teachers


Back in the ’80s, playgrounds existed as a world of imagination and adventure for kids. But as fun as they were for children, some of these playgrounds would terrify any teacher who understood the potential dangers that lurked behind every bend. Here are seven playground photos from the 1980s that will strike fear in the heart of anyone who experienced the era as an educator.

1. The Metal Slide

Remember the burning sensation when sitting on those metal slides under the glaring sun? These heating hazards did more than just make children yelp—they had teachers waiting anxiously at the bottom, ready to catch overheated tots and prevent any slide-related injuries.

2. The Old Tire Jungle

Stacks upon stacks of large tires made up what was once considered a fun jungle gym. The fear here came from what could be hiding within those dark crevices or when kids would get stuck underneath a tire halfway through their exploratory journey.

3. No Safety Surfacing

While today’s playground surfaces consist of rubberized materials that cushion falls, many playgrounds in the ’80s featured concrete or asphalt. Fearful teachers knew that one misstep could result in a scraped knee or worse, so they were always on alert.

4. Merry-Go-Rounds

Spinning at breakneck speed, these old-fashioned merry-go-rounds were thrilling for children but often nauseating for ’80s teachers, who could only watch helplessly as their pupils’ faces turned green with each round.

5. Swings Set too Close Together

Swing sets in the ’80s had dangerously close spacing between swings, making it hard for kids to avoid colliding mid-air with each other. This made monitoring swing usage a stressful endeavor for teachers on recess duty.

6. Wooden Monkey Bars with Splinter Potential

Climbing on wooden monkey bars provided endless fun for kids, but teachers knew all too well the possibility of a rogue splinter. They’d wince as each eager child climbed to new heights, hoping there wouldn’t be a trip to the nurse’s office afterward.

7. Teeter-Totters

These iconic see-saws could be loads of fun, but they also held the potential for a sudden drop that would send one child skyrocketing into the air with the risk of losing their grip and falling dramatically onto the unforgiving ground.


These playground photos from the 1980s show a time when danger and fun went hand in hand. While today’s playgrounds prioritize safety, looking back at these images makes one realize how far we’ve come in making playtime safer for everyone involved, much to the relief of present-day teachers everywhere.

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