Balance beams are a great way for a budding gymnast or new walkers to enhance their muscle growth and cognitive development. They're an open-ended play essential in our book! They're a fantastic toy for building relay and balance courses in various shapes while providing the right amount of challenge in developing analytical skills, balancing skills, spatial awareness, and enhancing cognitive development as kids are challenge themselves with new physical activities.
Best Montessori Balance Beams:
Best Overall: Little Partners
Little Partners Learn N‘ Balance beam comes with 4 colored stepping stones and is the set we love for most families.
It comes in at a moderate price point when it comes to montessori balance beams, with the option to add on with more challenging pieces as your child grows from Sprout (10% off with code TCM).
TIP: To get the most bang for your buck, we suggest getting a wooden balance beam with the round connectors like these so you can mix and match sets if you choose to add-on down the road or resell to neighbors with that as a selling point.
We love the 4 colored stepping stones have a non-slip base for jumping toddlers and make it easy to create different activities and games.
Additionally, it’s GREENGUARD GOLD CERTIFIED and has a lifetime warranty (check exclusions).
Best Add-Ons: Sprout
While Sprout has a done-for-you balance beam set made from high-quality materials and heirloom-quality craftsmanship, we think you’ll be fine with some of the cheaper options on this list. However, if you want to add-onto your existing wooden balance beam and it uses those circular connect pieces, then Sprout has you covered!
You can order replacement connectors (including single connectors, double connectors, triple, and even pentagons to make different balance beam shapes) or textured boards that offer similar challenges to GrowGo all from a small family shop made here in the US!
We’re huge fans of Sprout and you can get 10% off your order with code TCM here.
Best Budget: We Sell Mats
A really fun pick for small spaces or budgets is the folding foam balance beam from We Sell Mats. Our neighbors have a couple of gymnastics beams and this is our kids favorite. They always pull it out into the front yard paired with this bouncer. The kids all go crazy!
The older kids can do back handsprings off it – which is insane! And the younger children practice walking it then doing a jump off this bouncing toy.
We love that it folds up for easy storage and works indoors or outdoors. Unlike the traditional wooden montessori balance beams, the slight give under a foam beam actually provides a little more challenge (at least for me as an adult; not sure the kids feel that as much as they weigh less!)
Plus it comes in black, blue, pink, or purple!
Most Challenging: GrowGo
GrowGo is a versatile montessori balance beam is a great intersection between built-in activities, challenge, and price.
You get a set of 6 wooden balance beams, each with a double-sided design features one traditional smooth side while the other side offering various different shapes and stepping stones in fun colors for some added challenge.
Thanks to it's circular connectors and reversible beams you can reconfigure this a ton of different ways to make your own obstacle course.
Unlike most wooden balance beams, there’s also a squiggly piece which we LOVE and think makes a really fun experience for older toddlers and young preschoolers.
Most Classic Montessori: Lily & River Little Gymnast Balance Beam
If you’re looking for a higher balance beam with a classic look, then Lily & River is definitely your pick. It literally looks like something you’d find in a montessori classroom with the same great durability you’d expect from a classic wooden beam.
This pick is a little higher than others on the list, and does not use that circular connector. Meaning each beam is it’s own individual piece.
It does feature a splayed foot to prevent tips and is fun to pair with a wooden balance board at the end of an obstacle course.
FAQs on montessori balance beams:
What are balance beam benefits for toddlers?
Balance beams provide a ton of benefits for toddlers and big kids including (but not limited to):
- Deepens concentration: A key component of montessori's pedagogy
- Provides proprioceptive input which helps with body awareness, sensory and emotional regulation, and calming the nervous system
- Engages creativity as they discover new games or activities to use the balance beams for in imaginative play
- Can be used in vestibular activities to improve nervous system regulation and body awareness
- Improves muscle and core strength, hand-eye coordination, and balance control
- Encourages gross motor skill development
Toddler Balance Beam Activities:
For a simple wooden balance beam you can encourage your toddler to come up with their own activities or use any of the following:
- Part of obstacle courses
- The floor is lava
- Timed race
- Freeze dance on it
- Using colored stepping stones (or pieces of papers with numbers or letters) they need to navigate the balance beam to jump on whatever you called out – great for learning colors, sounds, and numbers
- As a car or toy ramp
- As a toy launch (when something is placed underneath, put the toy on the low end, then press the high end to launch it
Really the possibilities are endless!
Are balance beams Montessori?
Dr. Maria Montessori never created any toys – only her montessori materials for lessons in the classroom. So technically balance beams are not an official montessori instrument, however they do fall in line with Dr. Montessori's beliefs:
- Encourage independence
- Deepen focus and concentration
- Follows the child
- Utilizes natural materials easily found
All in all it's safe to assume she'd approve, and even likely the students of her schoolhouse used them!
What do children learn form balance beams?
Children learn how to control their bodies while building strength when using a balance beam in the traditional sense.
From there, kids can challenge themselves in limitless ways with balance beams. We've seen older neighbors do handsprings off them while the littles have used them as a jumping obstacle course.
they are a fantastic open-ended toy which kids can continually reinvent into a variety of activities.
What age is a balance beam good for?
Balance beams are generally recommended for 18 month olds and up.
The exact age specifications will depend on the balance beam itself.
Some have weight limits of 100 lbs, while others are higher off the ground (none on this list) for older kids. Always check the manufacturer recommends and do a search for the brand name with CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) at the end to see if there are any recalls
Are balance beams safe for toddlers?
Generally speaking, balance beams are safe for toddlers but should still only be used with adult supervision at this age.
Any toy can always post a safety risk and we always suggest consulting with the CPSC for latest product recalls or safety concerns.
What can you use instead of a balance beam?
A simple montessori balance beam DIY I've recommended for years is to just visit your local hardware store and purchase some 4 x 4 wood pieces. You can saw off short rectangles as the feet (similar to the Lily & River style) underneath a long piece.
Final thoughts on balance beams
A classic wooden toy, balance beams improve kids gross motor skills and make a great addition to any home or montessori playroom. We love them in our creative play and active physical play as they encourage kids development across a huge age range.
You can't go wrong with any picks on this list, but our favorite for young toddlers is from Little Partners thanks to its slip resistant grips and easy to maneuver design, then you can just add-on from Sprout as your child grows. If your kid is ready for some challenges or you prefer some fun colors, then GrowGo is a fantastic choice with the most pieces and customizations included.
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