What Is A Teeter Totter, Exactly? (EverythingYou Need To Know)

  • Learn all there is to know about teeter totters in this article 
  • Discover the other names that this playground classic goes by 
  • Plus, where to find teeter totters now, both classic and modern 
  • And, safety tips for kids when playing on a teeter totter

Do you remember teeter totters?

Have you ever given your kids a chance to play on one of those traditional playground toys?

Would you like to know more about the teeter totter and where they can be found today?

If you’ve been to a playground recently, you may think teeter totters are a thing of the past. They’re hardly showing up in any new construction playgrounds anymore, but if you remember your experiences playing on one of these pieces of playground equipment with fondness, you’re not alone. Many adults remember having a lot of fun on a teeter totter, but where did they go?

In this article, you’ll learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about teeter totters and probably a lot more, too! You’ll find out just what a teeter totter is and where you might be able to find them today. You’ll also learn about any changes that may have been made to the traditional teeter totter that you remember from your own childhood.

If you’re a diehard fan of this classic old playground toy, you’ve come to the right place! Check out the information below and enjoy your trip down memory lane when you learn everything about the teeter totter. You’re sure to discover something new you never knew before!

What is a teeter totter?

At its most basic, a teeter totter is a very simple piece of playground equipment. It’s been a part of playgrounds all around the world for a long time, but it has appeared in a variety of different formats over the years.

The simplest type of teeter totter is a wooden plank that is balanced on a center fulcrum. The center point gives the plank something to rest on so that it can move up and down depending on how weight is shifted on either side of the board. Some teeter totters have handles for kids to hold onto attached to either side of the board.

Children usually sit with one child on one end of the teeter totter and another child on the other end. One child squats his or her legs to become heavy enough to push his or her side of the teeter totter down. At the same time, the other child kicks against the ground so that he or she can move up with the other side of the board. Then the seated child kicks instead, and the process is repeated as the two children move up and down on the board.

Does it go by any other names?

Does the teeter totter go by anything else? Yes, it definitely does! In fact, the term “seesaw” is more commonly used to describe this piece of playground equipment, although the two are completely interchangeable. It’s uncertain where the name seesaw comes from, but the term teeter totter supposedly comes from the Norse word “tittermatorter” and is also used to refer to a swing that can be operated by two people at once. Here are just a few of the other fun and interesting terms used to refer to this same piece of playground equipment:

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    Teedle board: people in Massachusetts often refer to a teeter totter as a teedle board. This term is also sometimes referred to as a dandle board instead.
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    Tilting board or tilt: in other parts of New England, the teeter totter is called either a tilting board or simply a tilt.
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    Ridey-horse or hickey-horse: In some parts of Appalachia, the toy is called a ridey-horse or a hickey-horse. These are very uncommon and outdated, but you may still hear them from time to time.

Although there are a lot of different unique and sometimes silly names for a teeter totter, they all mean the same thing.

Are teeter totters the same as they used to be?

You may wonder if you can find teeter totters on playgrounds that remind you of the ones you used to play on. Most of the time, however, you’re just not going to find the old-fashioned type of teeter totter anymore.

Until the 1960s and 70s, they were prevalent on almost every playground, and they were usually made entirely out of wood on top of asphalt. These types of teeter totters often resulted in kids getting injured, sometimes severely, when they would fall off of them. Metal teeter totters, which took over later on, offered very little improvement in this area, although metal teeter totters often did at least have handles installed.

In later decades, it was ruled that teeter totters could stay on playgrounds if rubber ground cover was installed beneath them and if there was plenty of room between the teeter totter and other pieces of playground equipment, in case of a fall. However, by 2004, only 7% of playgrounds in the United States still had teeter totters present.

Some new versions of teeter totters are beginning to show up now too. These include some that work via springs so one child isn’t responsible for the other going up or down.

Where can you find teeter totters?

Some old playgrounds still feature teeter totters, and modern playgrounds are starting to incorporate new and safer versions. If you can’t find a public park in your area with a teeter totter, you may want to purchase a plastic backyard version for your kids to enjoy instead. This is a safer alternative, since it’s made of plastic, and you can buy some rubber mats to place beneath it for additional safety, too. When you want your kids to enjoy a teeter totter, this may be the best option for you.


Do you feel like you’ve learned a lot about teeter totters? Did you know there was so much to learn about this old playground favorite? The next time you find yourself walking by a public playground, take a look and see if you can spot a teeter totter. If it’s a newer playground, there’s a good chance you won’t see one there anymore, and you may feel a little disheartened by that. But don’t worry! They aren’t gone completely, although they’ve changed a little bit since the teeter totters you probably remember from childhood.

teeter totter for toddlers

If you’re a tried and true teeter totter fan and you want your kids to experience something you remember fondly from when you were their age, you can still find teeter totters on playgrounds and available for sale around the country. You just have to know where to look!

Whether you let your kids play on a teeter totter in a public playground or you have one in your own backyard, don’t forget to keep an eye on them and ensure that they’re using the toy properly. And if your little one is too small to hold on tightly to the handle or stay balanced without assistance, don’t let him or her play on the teeter totter alone. A little bit of safety goes a long way toward making sure your children don’t get injured playing on a toy like this one. And as always, if you have one in your own backyard, be sure to keep up with regular maintenance to ensure safety, too.



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