Updated September 29, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

The 9 Best Teeter Totters

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This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in June of 2015. Your kids can stay entertained for hours on end with any one of these fine teeter-totters. Designed with both fun and safety in mind, these indoor and outdoor seesaw options will let your children enjoy imaginative play while also getting some exercise and developing critical physical skills, such as balance and coordination. They're a nice change from TV and video games. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best teeter totter on Amazon.

9. Gym Dandy TT-210

8. Fat Brain Teeter Popper

7. Pure Fun Rocker

6. Step2 Play Up

5. Swing N Slide Spinner

4. Skywalker Sports Swivel

3. Gym Dandy TT-360

2. Little Tikes Whale

1. Lifetime Ace Flyer

Developmental Benefits Of Teeter Totters

In order to coordinate their movements, children have to focus on their timing.

Teeter totters are more than just fun; they are beneficial to children, as well. It may not seem like it at first glance, but successfully operating a teeter totter requires a number of physical and mental abilities. One of the core components of playing on a teeter totter is social interaction. Unlike some other playground activities, such as using a slide or climbing wall, teeter totters require the involvement of two children. This can help a child to become more socially adept. Unless they have arrived at a playground with a sibling or friend, they will have to approach another child in the playground to find a teeter totter partner. Learning how to make friends is a valuable skill that can benefit someone throughout their entire life. Having the confidence to approach a new person and initiate a conversation can often mean the difference between someone having a healthy social life as they age or spending the majority of their time alone.

Once on the teeter totter, the two children must cooperate to make it rock back and forth. In order to coordinate their movements, children have to focus on their timing. If a child doesn't sequence their movements correctly, they will not be able to move the teeter totter's center of mass to the correct point to raise the other child into the air, and vice versa. Sequencing skills are very important, as they play a major role in successfully performing a range of daily activities, from writing to assembling toys and playing sports.

Playing on a teeter totter also helps a child develop better balance. Rocking up and down stimulates the vestibular system, which is responsible for balance and spatial orientation. Humans have a vestibular apparatus inside of the ear that detects vertical orientation, as well as linear and rotational movement, and sends this information to the brain. The more the vestibular apparatus is stimulated, the better a child's body learns how to process the information sent from these receptors and the better it learns how to balance itself in different conditions.

Jumping up and down on a teeter totter helps develop muscle strength, as well. A number of muscle groups activate as a child performs the different actions. Muscles in the hands and arms are used to grip the handle, leg muscles are used to jump off the ground and cushion the landing, and core muscles are activated as the child leans forwards and backwards to change their center of mass.

The Many Names Of The Teeter Totter

The teeter totter has been a staple in playgrounds for as long as anyone can remember. Over time, different regions have developed their own names for this beloved toy. The two most common names are seesaw and teeter totter. Some believe the name seesaw is an Anglicisation of the French words ci and ça, which literally translate to "this" and "that". This seems to aptly describe the simple back and forth motion of the seesaw, so it is certainly a possibility.

This term likely came about due to the feeling a teeter totter creates of teetering on the edge of going up and going down.

Others believe the term seesaw stems from a combination of the French word scie and the Anglo-Saxon word saw. Scie directly translates to saw in English, so it is actually the repetition of the same exact word, just in two different languages. It can be said that the up and down motion of a seesaw is akin to the back and forth motion of a saw, also making this a possibility, as well.

Teeter totter is most likely an adaptation of the Nordic word tittermatorter, which is what this playground toy is called in the Scandinavian region. This term likely came about due to the feeling a teeter totter creates of teetering on the edge of going up and going down. Doubling a word or syllable with a different vowel or consonant is known as reduplication and it is actually a common linguistic process. Some other examples of reduplication are zig-zag, criss-cross, hanly-panky, hodge-podge, and flip-flop.

While seesaw and teeter totter may be the most popular names throughout much of the United States, this doesn't mean they are the only names. Depending on what region you happen to be in, people may call it a tilt, tilting board, teedle board, ridey horse, or hickey horse.

The Physics Behind The Teeter Totter

A teeter tooter is essentially just a lever. By utilizing a long rigid board and a fulcrum, it allows the users to lift a lot of weight with less effort than would normally be required. It works on the basic law of physics that states work is equal to force applied over a distance.

This is because the closer you are to the fulcrum, the more weight that is required to reach the moment of force, or the point at which the lever reaches the turning point.

The fulcrum of a teeter totter is placed at the exact center of the two seats. This means that for the teeter totter to sit exactly level, the turning force on both sides must be identical, with one force moving clockwise and the other force moving counterclockwise. If you were to place two children of equal weight on opposing ends of the teeter totter, it would sit level as long as neither one of them performed an action that affected this equilibrium. Now, if you have two children of unequal weight, you can still obtain an equilibrium if the heavier child sits closer to the fulcrum. This is because the closer you are to the fulcrum, the more weight that is required to reach the moment of force, or the point at which the lever reaches the turning point.

As children lean forwards and backwards on a teeter totter, they are moving their center of mass. This brings the force closer and further from the fulcrum. So two children of roughly equal weight can sit an equal distance from the fulcrum, and just move their center of mass back and forth to make the teeter totter move up and down. Two children of unequal weight can still use a teeter totter together in the same manner as long as the heavier child sits closer to the fulcrum.

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Brett Dvoretz
Last updated on September 29, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.

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