5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

The Montessori-aligned Pikler Triangle is one of the best investments I have made for my toddler's play area. It has helped my toddler develop agility and a keen sense of body awareness. The Pikler Triangle provides her with the opportunity to test, learn and experiment with her gross motor capacities and limits.

Not a day goes by that she's not climbing on and sliding down from the Pikler Triangle. Right now as my toddler approaches her second birthday, I have noticed a leap in her abstract thinking and imaginary play. Without adult direction or instruction, my toddler has been creatively using the Pikler Triangle as a 'monkey bar' to hang from, an 'observation tower' to watch me hustle around the house, and has barricaded herself underneath in a 'house'. I love seeing how she is starting to think out of the box with the Pikler Triangle.

Following this interest, I set up 5 fun, open-ended activities that utilise the Pikler Triangle beyond gross motor activities for my toddler to further her creativity and imagination.

1. Life-size Abacus

In recent months, Miss 23 months has been displaying a keen interest in numbers. She has recently done rote counting to 12 and one-to-one correspondence to 5, taking me by surprise.

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

To further this early interest in maths, I created this life-size abacus using the Pikler Triangle. I had previously been eyeing the newly launched IKEA MULA Abacus.

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

Steps to creating this life-size abacus:

  • Cut strips of colored construction paper (10 for each color) and curl up each strip (like how you would make paper chains) to make paper 'beads'
  • Tape the curled paper 'beads' around the rungs of the Pikler Triangle. Make sure the paper 'beads' are slideable on the rungs.

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

  • Place 10 paper 'beads' of identical color on each rung. You can introduce 10 colors in total to help with counting to 100 (for preschoolers). I used 5 colors so that the quantity doesn't get too overwhelming for my toddler.

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

We practiced one-to-one correspondence by pushing the paper 'beads' and verbally assigning a number to each 'bead'. This life-size abacus is a hands-on activity that makes counting (and math in general) fun and highly visual. For older children, you can extend the learning to sets, multiplication, addition and subtraction with this life-size abacus.

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

Rich Chinese vocabulary can be built through this activity too:

  • 算盘 (Suàn pán / Abacus)
  • 让我们数一数 (Ràng wǒ men shǔ yī shǔ / Let's count)
  • 一二三四有五六七八九十 (Yī' èr sān sì yǒu wǔ liù qī bā jiǔ shí / One two three four five six seven eight nine ten)
  • 加 (Jiā / Add)
  • 减 (Jiǎn / Subtract)
  • 乘 (Chéng / Multiply)
  • 一起学数学 (Yī qǐ xué shù xué / Let's learn math together)

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

2. Rescue Mission

This is a fun activity for young children, babies included once they demonstrate keenness in fine motor activities. In fact, I believe this would make a great play date idea as older children can leverage their refined fine motor abilities to tie ribbons for the younger ones to undo. In the process of experimenting with different ribbon untying ways to 'free' the stuffed toys, problem-solving skills and cognitive development are enhanced.

Ribbons of differing colours, textures and lengths can be used to increase the tactile sensory experience.

Ribbon Untying Rescue Mission Toddler Activity

Ribbon Untying Rescue Mission Toddler Activity

Ribbon Untying Rescue Mission Toddler Activity

Ribbon Untying Rescue Mission Toddler Activity

Rich Chinese vocabulary can be built through this activity too:

  • 您能想出方法来拯救这些玩具吗?(Nín néng xiǎng chū fāng fǎ lái zhěng jiù zhè xiē wán jù ma? / Can you think of a way to rescue these toys?)
  • 玩具被丝带绑住了 (Wán jù bèi sī dài bǎng zhù le / Toys are tied up by ribbons)
  • 解开丝带 (Jiě kāi sī dài / Untie the ribbons)
  • 拯救 (Zhěng jiù / Rescue)
  • 释放 (Shì fàng / Free)
  • 救 (Jiù / Save)

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

3. Pinball Color Learning Game

This idea originated from Donna, a fellow mom friend who also practises Montessori parenting.

Steps to creating this pinball game:

  • Tape colorful wooden blocks onto inclined Pikler Triangle ramp in a way that directs balls to slide down into awaiting colored holders
  • Label the colored holders
  • You might like to switch up the arrangement of wooden blocks for balls to take different routes and drop into different colored holders

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

This activity presents a great opportunity to teach basic science -- laws of gravity and motion.

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

Rich Chinese vocabulary can be built through this activity too:

  • 你可以将球滚动到各自的彩色容器中吗?(Nǐ kě yǐ jiāng qiú gǔn dòng dào gèzì de cǎi sè róng qì zhōng ma? / Can you roll the balls to go into their respective colored container?)
  • 弹球游戏 (Dàn qiú yóuxì / Pinball game)
  • 颜色 (Yánsè / Colors)
  • 颜色配对 (Yánsè pèi Duì / Color matching)
  • 球滚下坡道 (Qiú gǔn xià pō dào / Balls roll down the ramp)
  • 积木 (Jī mù / Wooden blocks)

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

4. Outdoor Camping Tent

Weather-proof camping, in the comfort of home!

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

This setup is extremely easy -- a blanket draped over the Pikler Triangle, a campfire crafted from toilet paper (TP) rolls and crepe paper and a "In the Forest" National Geographic Kids book for topic exploration and learning.

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

Apart from learning about forest animals, you can take the opportunity to explore new topics like how fire can be created, and the use of fire in outdoor camping and everyday life.

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

Rich Chinese vocabulary can be built through this activity too:

  • 你想在帐篷里过夜吗? (Nǐ xiǎng zài zhàngpéng lǐ guòyè ma? / Would you like to spend the night in your tent?)- 户外露营 (Hùwài lùyíng / Outdoor camping)
  • 想象你在森林里 (Xiǎngxiàng nǐ zài sēnlín lǐ / Imagine you are in a forest)
  • 帐篷 (Zhàngpéng/ Tent)
  • 营火 (Yínghuǒ / Campfire)
  • 森林动物 (Sēnlín dòngwù / Forest animals)
  • 狐狸 (Húlí / Foxes)

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

5. Obstacle Course

This is a great problem-solving indoor activity for children to explore, test and retest different ways of getting through an obstacle course. It is more challenging than using the Pikler Triangle alone and the complex setup provides opportunities for children to test their physical limits in various ways (e.g. learn to fall safely).

A time challenge can be added to hone children's reflexes.

What's flexible is that this setup can easily be customised to your child's gross motor ability and the available furniture items you have at home. You can get really creative -- throwing cushions, cardboard boxes, laundry baskets etc into the mix!

This is my obstacle course setup:

  • Crawling path on the Waldorf board before climbing up the Pikler Triangle
  • Balancing beam path across the Pikler Triangle ramp which was placed on an IKEA FLISAT table
  • Ending with a jump off the table onto a soft bean bag which provides a safe landing

Rich Chinese vocabulary can be built through this activity too:

  • 这是一场障碍赛 (Zhè shì yī chǎng zhàng' ài sài / This is an obstacle course challenge)
  • 你准备好接受挑战了吗?(Nǐ zhǔn bèi hǎo jiē shòu tiǎo zhàn le ma? / Are you up for the challenge?)
  • 你如何到达目的地?(Ní rú hé dào dá mù dì de? / How can you reach the destination?)
  • 分秒必争 (fēn miǎo bì zhēng / Every second counts)
  • 与时间赛跑 (Yǔ shí jiān sài pǎo / Race against time)
  • 爬上 (Pá shàng / Climb up)
  • 跳下 (Tiào xià / Jump down)

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

I hope these unconventional ideas of using the Pikler Triangle stimulate your little ones' creativity and open up the world of indoor play possibilities on stay-home days!

To follow our learning through play ideas, check out @miraculove_sg (Instagram), save our pins or join A Toddler Activity A Day Facebook Group.

5 Open Ended Play Ideas with Montessori Aligned Pikler Triangle

Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.

Hi! We are Yunnie & Limin and we used to design customised wedding invitations in Singapore. If you’re here for that, thank you but we no longer design and are sorry that we can’t be a part of your special day. But we welcome you to hang around if you have little people in your life whom you interact and play with. Miraculove is now an education website for caregivers to be inspired by our heart and handmade play ideas, so everyone can make learning fun and stimulating for babies and toddlers.