Pikler Triangle for Granddaughter

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Project by Calmudgeon posted 04-25-2021 02:22 PM 642 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made this at the request of my daughter-in-law last summer. For those unfamiliar with the Montessori tradition, the idea is to create toys and structures that will encourage kids to explore and won’t limit their play. In this case, the Pikler Triangle is basically a toddler jungle gym.

The triangle can be used as a climbing structure. Or throw a blanket over it and it’s an instant fort. With the addition of the ramp it adds other climbing options and a slide. There are plenty of online plans for these – of varying quality, of course.

Construction in this case is maple, birch ply, and some big box store poplar dowels. The ramp is two plies. I drilled threaded inserts into either 1/2’ or 5/8” baltic birch for the hand holds, then covered those up on the slide side with some el cheapo 3/16” birch ply I had lying around. In hindsight, I wish I’d gone with 1/4” baltic birch instead. The two layers were glued together and then sandwiched into dadoes in the side rails. Finish is a couple coats of tung oil with some paste wax added on the slide.

I could have made my own handholds, but I liked the idea of some bright colour, so I ordered these plastic ones off of Amazon. They’re kind of ridiculously large, but they work OK. Truthfully, I don’t think she uses them much because she’s such a monkey that she climbs up the slide without any handholds. The last picture was on the day she was introduced to structure. In general, though, I think the structure has seen lots of use, particularly on cold COVID winter days when getting to a playground was impractical. She really likes the slide.

The dowels are mortised into the side rails of the ladder. I glued them in but added screws into the top and bottom rung for added stability. The screws got covered with maple plugs.

One ladder is fixed permanently to the top pivot triangle with dowels. The other ladder pivots on 1/4” assembly bolts, which don’t provide any sharp edges for clothing to catch on. They’re positioned so that the swinging arms contact the fixed arms to lock the triangle into place, negating the need for any stay mechanism that could cause a pinch hazard.

My son and DIL don’t have a large house, so one of the best aspects of this piece is that it can be folded and set against a wall out of the way when not in use (third picture).

As always, questions and constructive criticism welcome.

-- "As are the things we make, so are we ourselves." - Lin Yutang

4 comments so far

View ClaudeF's profile


1336 posts in 2871 days

#1 posted 04-25-2021 04:25 PM

Nice work! I’m sure that will be used a lot!



View Madmark2's profile


2973 posts in 1752 days

#2 posted 04-25-2021 04:46 PM

Very cool! It’ll help the little ones motor development.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View BigAl98's profile


277 posts in 4203 days

#3 posted 04-26-2021 02:20 PM

Very nice. I’d be afraid of her falling off at the top. And the pole spacing on the A frame seems large enough for her head to get through and caught? I realize that’s perhaps taking safety too far. But otherwise nice construction.

-- Al,Midwest -To thine own self be true

View Calmudgeon's profile


511 posts in 2592 days

#4 posted 04-26-2021 03:14 PM

Very nice. I d be afraid of her falling off at the top. And the pole spacing on the A frame seems large enough for her head to get through and caught? I realize that s perhaps taking safety too far. But otherwise nice construction.

- BigAl98

Those are valid concerns, so let me address them.

First, the ladder rungs are spaced 5” on centre. Since the dowels are over 1” in diameter, this brings the opening to under 4” or within the guidelines of spindles and such as I understand them.

As for the height, yes it’s possible to fall. The principle behind these structures, though, is to present the child with a moderate challenge while remaining within a manageable level of risk. At her age (just under 2 years now) my granddaughter doesn’t play on this unless she’s directly supervised. When she first began climbing up the slide, her parents were right there with a hand behind her butt. As she became more proficient, they backed off a few feet, but remained near in case she wobbled. The idea is to develop physical proficiency gradually. The small level of risk is part of the reward.

Thanks for the questions. They are very legitimate concerns which perhaps I should have addressed up front in the post.

-- "As are the things we make, so are we ourselves." - Lin Yutang

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