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History of the See-Saw in play

History of the See-Saw in play

15 Jul 2023


The see-saw, also known as 'teeter-totter' is an ancient piece of playground equipment believed to have been around in ancient Greece. Children would play with a plank pivoted on a rock or a log, which is where the rocking motion that inspires today’s see-saws was found.

Surviving the test of time, the modern-day version of the see-saw emerged through the 19th century when the first patent was granted in 1905, around the same time that playgrounds were becoming popular in urban areas.

The purpose of the see-saw is to create a fun and interactive experience for children that allow them to experience a rocking motion which can be useful in developing their balance and coordination, especially when an adult gets involved! The see-saw consists of a long wooden plank that is balanced on a fulcrum with two seats on either end and essentially acts as a lever. Children face opposite each other pushing off the ground to make the see-saw go up and down, and they must work together to keep the see-saw in balance.

Over the years the see-saw has developed massively to be more inclusive and become a piece of multi-user equipment. innovations have been made to make see-saws wheel-chair accessible, which was done through having a larger structure with a ramp that allows wheel-chair users to enjoy the rocking sensation. Rather than rocking up and down, users will instead roll to and fro, giving the impression of physically moving a part of the path or ground.

Wheelchair See-Saw designed for accessibility

A further modification of the traditional see-saw that allows for more users to join in is the Jackstraw see-saw. This unique design keeps the traditional up-and-down motion, but also allows others to balance along the multiple beams. The more people that participate in the structure, the harder it becomes to balance and control coordination because of the other beams moving, similar to jackstraws.

Timber design of a modified See-Saw

Timberplay specialises in natural, landscape-led play solutions for the UK, Middle East and beyond. If you want to find out more about working with Timberplay contact us here for a chat.