Waldorf Toys

In Praise of Rocker Boards

If you were to ask me to recommend my one favorite Waldorf toy, I would have to tell you the Rocker Boards!

You might be surprised, because rocker boards may not yet be thought of as classic Waldorf toys. They are, in fact, a relatively new addition, but I’m confident that in very little time rocker boards will become synonymous with “Waldorf toys”—just like Waldorf playstands, Waldorf dolls, and play silks.

My Introduction to the Wonder of Rocker Boards

I’d been teaching early childhood classes in a Waldorf school for many years, but had never seen nor heard of this toy until one of my colleagues brought two of them back from the East Coast Waldorf Early Childhood Conference in 2006.

When I first saw this unusual plaything–a piece of high quality, thick plywood, about three feet long and one foot wide, curved into a perfect quarter-circle arc–I wondered how interested the children would be and what could be done with them.

I knew how beneficial rocking is for a child’s development: it stimulates the vestibular (balance) system and aids a child’s sense of proprioception (the awareness of being in one’s physical body). It seemed like a good toy for allowing rocking indoors.

I knew how important balance is for a child’s brain development, and it seemed like a good and possibly therapeutic toy for certain children.

Waldorf Wooden Balance Board | Rocker Board

What I didn’t yet know was how much children love this toy!

Rocker Boards in the Classroom

We introduced the rocker boards in our classroom in February of that year, and the children wasted no time in finding them and putting them to use.

I was amazed at all the ways they found to play with them. My limited adult thinking assumed that this was a toy for children to stand on, with one foot on either end, on which they could rock back-and-forth.

I didn’t yet realize it could be so much more!

Right away, these boards became the most popular toys in our classroom. They were the first toys the children would go to as soon as snack time was over and play time began.

Yes, children would stand on them and rock, but they found so many other uses for them:

  • The rocker board would become a slide, with one end propped up on a Waldorf playstand.
  • Tipped over, it became a bridge. The children would act out stories, like the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” and trip-trap over the bridge.
  • It became a sailboat, carrying fishermen off to sea as they cast their nets.
  • It was a pirate ship sailing through mighty storms.
  • It was a cradle for a mama (a 5-year-old) to rock her baby (a 3-year-old) to sleep in.

More Boards, More Fun

Every day the children found new imaginative uses for the rocker boards. The trouble was, we only had two.

The next year it was my turn to attend the Waldorf early childhood conference in Spring Valley, NY where a local woodworker was selling the boards to Waldorf teachers. I came back with two more rocker boards.

Now that we had four boards in the classroom, there was less competition for them among the children, and less time spent waiting for turns to use them. And the children found even more uses for multiple boards:

  • Put four side-by-side to create an airplane.
  • Put four end-to-end to create a train.
  • Put four together to create a perfect circle, in which to make a little house.

Several years later when I left my teaching position and became the new owner of Bella Luna Toys, I knew right away that I wanted to introduce Waldorf Rocker Boards to families. So I contacted Larry Fox, the woodworker in New York who sold those first rocker boards to early childhood teachers.

He could not commit to making the boards in the quantities I was looking for, so I kept searching, talking to various woodworkers and manufacturers, hoping I could find someone who could help me bring this toy into the lives of more children and families.

After almost two years of searching, I was ecstatic when a young mother in California, whose children attend a Waldorf school, contacted me about a new product that she and her husband had created – the Curvy Board – after seeing rocker boards in use in their children’s Waldorf School. She wondered if I would be interested in offering them through Bella Luna Toys.

In the summer of 2001, a partnership was born and now this wonderful open-ended toy is in homes all over the world, helping to develop children’s core strength, balance and brain development, but most importantly, inspiring creative and open-ended play!

Not only have the rocker boards quickly become one of our bestselling toys, but they have also garnered glowing reviews from our customers.

Warmly,

 

Have you observed children playing with Waldorf Rocker Boards? In what ways other creative ways have you seen them used?

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10 Comments

  • Reply Maggie February 6, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I bought ours also from NY about three years ago after seeing them in a Waldorf kindergarten room.
    Our kids love them and use them as a slide, a bridge, as a boats, as sleds, as a cradle and as a border to make a house. My son also loves to use it as part of a car track or marble run. the nice thing is that it stows away easily under our playstands in the evening when play is done.
    This board was the best toy investment!

    Maggie

  • Reply Sarah Baldwin February 6, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Yes, they make a wonderful track for cars, too. But never thought of a marble run. Wonderful!

  • Reply Kestrel February 7, 2012 at 2:52 am

    I’m going to have to go searching here in Australia. This would absolutely appeal to my four children.

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin February 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      Bella Luna Toys is able to ship the Rocker Boards internationally, Kestrel. We’ve shipped a lot of them to Australia and New Zealand! International customers can request a shipping quote by emailing support [at] bellalunatoys [dot] com.

  • Reply wordplayhouse® February 25, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    We shared these boards in a handmade feature on our blog before the holidays. I like the boards’ open-ended possibilities for play, their sturdiness, and the beautiful natural wood they are made of.

    A very good choice for your shop and childs’ play. -heather

  • Reply Philip Ang May 18, 2012 at 6:31 am

    These boards look great! It would surely guarantee lots and lots of fun playtime both indoor and outdoor. I guess the kids can use it as a rocking bed too! The boards look pretty strong. I cannot wait to get my hands on one of these for my kids.

  • Reply Carol September 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    What is the maximum age range for the rocker boards – is there a weight maximum? Do they come in different sizes / weights?
    What would be the shipping costs to South Africa?
    Thanks,
    Carol

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin October 14, 2012 at 8:37 am

      Hi Carol. Sorry for the delay in responding to your question! We have tested the Rocker Board with a 250 pound adult and it held his weight just fine. It would probably hold more, we just haven’t found a bigger person to test it yet! My staff and I use the one in our office all the time for a little workout and stress relief. We do ship these boards worldwide. Please email us for a shipping quote to your address.

  • Reply Megan February 13, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Is there a minimum age recommendation? Would this be a good first birthday gift?

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin February 25, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      Hi Megan. A Rocker Board would be a GREAT first birthday gift! Though I generally recommend the boards for children 18 months and up, as soon as the one-year-old is steady on his or her feet, s/he will start having fun with it (and that will happen soon, if it hasn’t already). And the great thing about this toy is that it will be played with in many different ways for many years as a child gets older.

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