If you're looking for an activity playmat for your child, that looks stylish, has interactive elements and is long-lasting, then the Rock Stepper Playmat is a great contender.
With a choice of two designs, this reversible Rock Stepper Playmat is no ordinary playmat. Designed to be used from birth to six years old, it comes with a pack of flashcards and an app to bring an interactive element that's incredibly unique.
I tested the Rock Stepper with the help of my almost two-year-old daughter and six-year-old son, to see what they thought of the playmat and its interactive elements.
- Reversible and stylish design
- Helps to encourage development
- Encourages movement
- App won't be available until November
Testing the Rock Stepper Playmat
The Rock Stepper Playmat is a reversible design. One side is a minimalist, neutral style while the other has interactive elements and engaging features that children will love. I love that it's reversible, meaning my children have a fun space to play during the day, but I can also have it the other way when the kids are in bed.
It's a standard rug size, so it does take up quite a bit of space and because of the memory foam design, I wouldn't advise putting any heavy furniture over it, even on the edges.
When I first unrolled the mat, it didn't give off any nasty smell like some materials do and I was rather impressed at how well it unrolled. It took a few days to completely flatten on one side, but I left it the interactive side up with a few books on that end during the night to help it flatten completely.
The mat is incredibly easy to use. One side can be used as a functional mat and be played on, while the other side has interactive elements printed on the playmat. The interactive side features the alphabet with pictures, as well as numbers and shapes. It also has an all-over grey sprinkle pattern, which doesn't detract from the print but adds a fun feature.
With the mat being made of soft sponge, it's also great for sitting or lying on, and my son started to choose to lay down on the playmat with a book or game, rather than sitting on the sofa. He even used it when he played on his tablet, and described the mat as comfier.
Although, I did find it quite heavy to lift and flip when I wanted to use the other side. I found it a lot easier to roll the playmat up in order to reverse it.
The flashcards were also easy to use and very self-explanatory. My daughter being younger, needed more support in using the cards but she pretty quickly grasped the concept. My son however was able to use the cards to play independently on practised his phonics with the alphabet side of the mat and we were also able to play maths games.
I thought that the flashcards were a great addition to the playmat. They came in a pack of 70, however, the only downside is they are a thin card material. A chunkier design would be a lot better because they'd be less likely to bend and will probably last a lot longer.
I found the Rock Stepper to live up to expectations of what a playmat should do. It was functional, easy to clean (which is a huge bonus with two kids) and comfortable to kneel, lay or sit on.
In some respects, such as with the inclusion of the 70 flashcards, it did exceed some expectations. It added a whole different element to the mat and we were able to come up with lots of different ways to play with just the cards and playmat itself. I don't think you can say that about many other playmats.
My son created a game with his little sister where they had to jump from one side to the other without stepping on the white parts of the mat. Seeing him interact this way with just a playmat was wonderful, as normally with anything else he would prefer to play independently. He also used the flashcards with her.
I also played an easy game of true and false, where I asked him general day-to-day facts and easy maths equations, where he'd have to stand on either side of the mat to say if it was true or right, or false or wrong. I thought this was a great way of playing and interacting and I loved that we could still play this game even if I was doing something else such as cleaning.
My daughter being almost two is learning a lot more and she loves matching the animals on the flashcards to the mat. We change up the order every time we use the cards and watching her concentrate and figure out where they need to go is absolutely wonderful. She really enjoys playing with her brother on the mat with his made-up games, as well as using the flash cards.
I've found she plays a lot more independently with her own toys too. I think before because she was playing on colder and hard flooring, she was less likely to sit on it and play, but the Rock Stepper playmat adds warmth and comfort that she actually enjoys playing on the floor with toys now.
Overall, I absolutely love this playmat. Both my children come downstairs in the morning and rather than asking for their favourite TV show on, they go straight over to play on the mat with their toys or create games involving the image placements on the mat. I love how much joy both my children get out of the playmat and it's nice to watch them play nicely on it and with the flashcards.
I would say that the Rock Stepper is an investment item and for how many years you can use the mat, it would be worth the money. Even if you didn't buy it when your baby is born, there's so much a child can learn from the flashcards and mat itself and if you have carpets, it's great at providing a flat surface to play on.
I would recommend the playmat to other parents. It works well with any style and isn't overly colourful. The patterning on both sides is beautiful and it's soft and functional. I'm really looking forward to seeing how well the apps work too, but the online ideas that are currently available in the interim are great in the meantime.
Is a playmat necessary?
While not completely necessary, playmats are a great way to provide a flat surface for babies to practise tummy time on and for older children to play on. The Rock Stepper Playmat, while most beneficial for using the interactive features for ages two and over, can be used for babies when supervised to lay on.
When will the app be available?
The free Rock Stepper App will be available to download from November.
Samantha Ball is a Product & Lifestyle Writer for Mother&Baby and freelanced for the website for two years before joining the team full time. She's a mum of two and loves browsing for the best products and cute outfits.