Setting up a slackline in your backyard provides the thrills and challenges of tightrope walking on a smaller (and safer!) scale. Created by mountain climbers as a way to improve balance and agility, a slackline can also help kids develop coordination and give their core and leg muscles a good workout. Advanced users perform amazing stunts on the lines, bouncing, flipping, and twisting in acrobatic routines (you can see them performing on YouTube). Here's what you need to know to get started.
A slackline is a webbed line that's anchored between two trees a few feet off the ground (for beginners, no higher than the knees). The line itself is wider (usually about 1 to 2 inches), bouncier, and strung less taut than a tightrope.
Kids as young as five can practice their balancing skills, though spotting help from a parent may be needed when a child is first learning.
The Gibbon Funline is shorter and wider than other models -- both desirable features when your child is just starting out. Funlines also come equipped with the hardware you'll need to set them up. FamilyFun Editor-in-chief Ann Hallock says "It creates a really fun play area in the yard. When the kids have friends over, they all love to try to balance on our line and see who can walk the farthest on it." Gibbon, $79.99
Originally published in the April 2013 issue of FamilyFun.