swing sets, slides, jungle gym, sandbox, tube maze, see-saw, merry-go-round, sand, mulch, wood chips, small trees, bushes, benches, black rubber mat flooring, grass, shining metal, rusty metal, torn swing seats, hollowed-out sand or dead grass where see-saw seats hit the ground, bugs/grass/specks of dirt in sandbox, sun glinting off of metal pieces, kids, babies in strollers, dogs on leashes, moms/dads sitting on benches, juice boxes, baggies with snacks in them, groups of teenagers, squirrels, dragonflies, ants, ladybugs, birds, trash barrel, litter, Popsicle sticks, tire swings, monkey bars, bikes on kickstands, scooters, bike helmets hanging from handle bars on lying on the ground, flying fox, small rock climbing wall, gravel, seagulls, half-buried toy cars, broken pails, shovels, people walking their dogs or pushing strollers
kids shrieking/laughing/crying, parents talking, swings creaking, rhythmic whoosh of swings going back and forth, seesaws thumping into the dirt, merry-go-round squeaking, rubber shoes on the slide, swish of sand pouring back and forth in the box, wind blowing, feet scraping the wood chips, crying after a fall, lawn mowers, kids calling "Mom" or "Look at me!", pounding footsteps
Fresh mown grass, sticky-sweet spilled juice baking on asphalt, a garbage that needs changing, diaper smell, pine trees, tree blossoms, wild flowers, dandelion or other weeds (stink weed, skunk cabbage, etc), mud, wet dirt, dusty/chalky gravel, cigarette smoke, perfume, sweat, warm rubber
Grass, dirt, juice boxes, water, coffee brought from a local coffee house, Popsicles, snacks (crackers, grapes, cheese, fruit gummies), chalky taste of stirred-up gravel or dust, mints, gum, sneaking a cigarette, pop, ice tea, sand in the mouth
The poke of gravel in the shoe or against the hands, paint-chipped cold metal, sun-warmed rubber tires, smooth seats, stiff uneven picnic tables/park benches, cool grass underfoot, the jab of a pine cone or pine needle, smooth chain links of a swing, sticky or gritty hands, sweaty hands/face, smooth plastic seats, gritty sand, balling up a granola bar wrapper and tossing it in the trash, leaning back against the slats of a park bench, cedar chips sliding underfoot
--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Ronald stared down from his perch at the top of the yellow ladder, smirking as he smashed a fist into his palm, daring any of us to climb his slide.
On the swing set, Beth and Rita pumped their legs, straining for height. Their giggles floated on the air, riding along their streaming hair, bouncing off chalky knees, glinting from bright smiles--school was out, and the summer loomed with endless potential.
--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Simile)
Benson waddled toward me, almost unrecognizable beneath the dirt, mud and grass. Drool seeped from his gapped-toothed grin, his mouth rimmed with dirt that had journeyed to his inquisitive mouth. Sand clung to his curls like dew and his pocket bulged with treasure from the communal sandbox. As he rubbed a fist crusted with melted ice cream against his eye, I knew I had about fifteen minutes to get him home, cleaned up and ready for naptime.
Example 2: (Metaphor)
My steps slowed as we approached the playground. Bright, rusty scabs crawled up the slide's ladder, held together with cracked, plastic steps. The slide itself looked like it'd gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson, dented and scuffed and warped by the elements. The see-saw only had one painted seat, the blue color washed out by the sun. It's mate lay a few feet away, half-digested by gravel.
When the wind caused the empty, sagging swings to wake into a shrieking quartet of banshees, Amy's hand tightened in mine, and I quickly suggested we spend the afternoon at the YMCA instead.