Step Rocking Boat

Play to Grow

Based on research by Dr. Emmi Pikler and supported by RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers), Pikler, Montessori and Steiner / Waldorf philosophies, Step Rocking Boat (also called a Step/Boat Rocker) stands out from the rest as it can be used and kept outdoors as well as indoors. It's quality is unsurpassed, crafted from premium grade marine-grade plywood by award winning furniture craftsmen in Europe (where the design for this piece originated!). It's worth the investment as it will last you at least 5 years, longer with siblings, and is such a versatile unit to support natural motor development. It continues to challenge and grow with children as their developmental needs evolve.

Our Step Rocking Boat is solid and sturdy, designed to withstand the use within a kindergarten or childcare centre and to last generations. It is natural wood in colour and finished with all-natural linseed oil, a safe choice for babies. All the edges are hand-sanded to create a curved, safe and comfortable edge to each piece of wood. We have also incorporated a safety feature so the Step Rocking Boat doesn't tip over when rocked - the flatter edges, as opposed to a point, at the ends of the side panels prevent tipping. So much love and consideration has gone into creating the best quality version of this favourite as possible.

This 2 in 1 unit is key in gross motor skill development of early crawlers through to 5/6 years old. As a set of steps, babies as young as 6 months will love exploring, risk taking and practicing crawling up and down and as a support to stand when they are ready. They will go up and down and over and back again until they can do it with 'their eyes closed'. This is the perfect precursor and confidence builder to taking on somewhat higher and more numerous 'real' steps. Older children will love the steps as part of obstacle courses and for a stage for toys etc.

Flip the unit over and it becomes a rocking boat, brilliant for developing balance and core strength. Very young toddlers can manage to rock it solo and preschoolers can have fun together with their siblings / friends. The teamwork involved to keep balance and rhythm whilst rocking is wonderful for social skills as well as gross motor skills. This translates into many other areas of life where they will have to depend on others as well as to be there for them to facilitate success in play, work and ultimately life itself. Of course it's still just as fun rocking solo! 

Janet Lansbury, RIE parenting expert, author and well-known blogger (Elevating child Care), recommends in her blog article Gifts that Encourage Child Directed Play:

"Safety precautions need to be taken with this equipment, and I should probably address those first:

The step climber is suitable for children of all ages beginning in infancy, but I don’t recommend turning it over until children are closer to two or experienced walkers. Either way, there should always be a mat, rug or other soft surface underneath.

Closely supervise children on this equipment the first few times they use it and whenever it is in use by more than one child. “Spot” rather than rescue, catch or otherwise remove children from the equipment, unless the child is too upset or exhausted to attempt getting down herself. (And if that’s the case, pick the child up rather than helping her down, so as not to give her a false of sense of her ability). Helping children with motor activities hinders their safety, because it gives them false impression they are able to jump, roll or step off of equipment independently.

One of the most common unsafe parenting practices is holding children’s hands to help them down steps. (For a story that illustrates, please read "Don’t Stand Me Up".) Young children are impressionable and develop habits with astonishing speed. In a recent class, I was surprised to see a 14 month old whose parents have been diligently nurturing her natural motor development take a standing step off the step climber and fall. I was glad I happened to be there to break her fall (which is the goal of spotting — it’s very important to allow the child to fall as he or she would, so she understands the effect of her action). It was obvious to me that this toddler had been walked down steps recently, because she would not have taken a chance like that otherwise. The parents realized this must have happened with the substitute caregiver they’d hired for a couple of days. Through our patience and spotting during class this toddler quickly readjusted, remembering how to crawl down safely.

But enough warnings, here are some of the awesome skills children learn on the step climber and rocking boat:

Infants practice climbing and descending the steps, first by crawling up and then descending either face-first or backwards (trust and spot them). Later they might descend seated on their bottoms and then, finally, they learn to step, which tends to be immediately followed by stepping down while holding the biggest toys they can find. Kids love challenging themselves.

I especially appreciate the way the rocking boat helps toddlers and preschoolers develop social intelligence as they experiment with it in conjunction with their peers. They learn to slow down their rocking to accommodate children climbing on or off, and they practice balancing together. We should be nearby with younger ones to spot, support and prevent toes from getting caught underneath, but we’re definitely not needed to rock the boat. Children learn more and are safer when they can control it. Some of the most joyful moments of togetherness in our RIE classes happen when children discover rocking with a peer." Janet Lansbury, Elevating Child Care

Dimensions: 120cm long x 64cm wide x 35cm high 
Comes flat packed. Extremely straightforward to assemble. Comes with all screws, tool and assembly instructions.

Recommended Age: 6 months - 6 years

about play to grow toys and play equipment

Play to Grow offer a growing range of custom made toys and play equipment. We design and work with talented craftspeople globally to create quality products.

Based on the research of Dr Emmi Pikler, paediatrician, and Magda Gerber, child therapist, Play to Grow, together with award winning furniture craftsmen in Europe, have brought to life these designs for play equipment for infants to 5/6 year olds. The Pikler / RIE philosophies are fundamentally based on respect, not only respecting babies and children, but demonstrating respect in every interaction with them. Respecting a child means treating even the youngest infant as a unique human being, not as an object. RIE fosters an authentic child who is one who feels secure, autonomous, and competent. The RIE philosophy and Dr Pikler's research stresses the importance importance of allowing the baby / child to move freely and develop in their own time without adult interference. Key to this is a safe, challenging and predictable environment. These pieces of play equipment are designed to provide the necessary challenge in a safe way and empowers babies and children to develop naturally through their milestones, supporting gross motor skill development in a non-restrictive way. Fully and appropriately developed motor skills are the foundation for a child's healthy growth, both physically and mentally and also emotionally given the self-confidence and autonomy the process instills.

Furthermore, spontaneous, self-initiated exploration by babies / children has an essential value for their physical and mental development in that the pleasure evolving from exploration and mastery is self-reinforcing. Subsequently, the infant becomes intrinsically motivated to learn. This way of allowing babies and children to move and learn naturally ensures they develop balance and judgement about what they can and cannot do so they will not put themselves in situations they cannot manage. These pieces of play equipment are also often be included in the Montessori, Steiner / Waldorf and Reggio Emilia learning environments, and how wonderful this is, they all share an intrinsic respect and trust in children to develop and learn.

The nervous system has aspects of plasticity and as it develops, a balance between gross motor activities and neural patterning occurs. Each movement and transitional phase (body posturing between movements such as crawling or sitting) helps mold the nervous system in its development. The patterning that occurs is specific to each child’s own development, and the transitional phases between each movement are often more important than the final outcome (for example, sitting or standing). Parents often want their child to “progress” as quickly as possible with their neuromuscular and intellectual development. However, the understanding of a child's physical, cognitive, emotional and social needs, grounded in 60 years of ongoing research and observation at the Pikler Institute in Budapest, Hungary and at Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) in Los Angeles, California, supports the need to allow children to move within the transitional stages between each posture in their own time. These transitional stages are of great importance to the child’s neuromuscular development, as well as their psychological development. Each child has their own individual developmental timetable, and each step they take along the way is their body’s way of integrating itself into the world.

Play to Grow are passionate about natural materials, quality design, and eradicating the devastating impact of chemicals on our children. All our products are eco-friendly, natural, safe, non-toxic and ethically made from sustainable resources. We love our Mother Earth!

Our products aim to stimulate children to achieve higher levels of intellectual, emotional and physical development whilst embedding values - mind, body and spirit. We support Steiner/Waldorf, Montessori, RIE / Pikler and Reggio Emilia approaches to respect and nurture the whole child.

Play to Grow is all about the child at heart in everyone, fostering enchantment, beauty, spirit and wonder. With an innate reverence for children and the natural environment, our range allows children's imaginations to shine and nurtures creativity and individuality. 

Every child on our planet is unique and deserving. We carefully source fair trade suppliers that help developing global communities, and support fellow family businesses. We offer you an exclusive collection that is unique, full of charm and not found in mainstream stores.

Happy playing!



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