Sure, the Pikler triangle is designed for climbing. But with a little creative thinking, you’ll discover dozens of fun ideas to try — besides climbing.
Let’s get you started in the right direction — with some new ways to use your Pikler triangle.
Some functional. Some just for fun.
You’ll be surprised just how many awesome toddler activities the Pikler triangle can be used for.
Not just climbing!
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1. Indoor Camping Tent & Play Fort
Building forts with chairs, sheets, and clothespins was one of my all-time favorite activities as a kid.
I’d cover the entire living room — and defend its fortitude even after my parents had asked me nicely to clear the room several times.
Simply toss a sheet or rug overtop of your Pikler triangle, and you’ll have a little play fort or cave your child can crawl inside.
The triangular frame is the perfect shape to remake a Native American teepee.
And a triangular teepee is not the only shape. Since the Pikler triangle is (usually) adjustable, you can get creative and make a tent or cabin with a broad or square roof.
To build an even more elaborate play fort, feel free to pair your Pikler with other furniture — or prop it against the wall.
Since the Pikler triangle is lightweight, you can worry less about damaging other furniture. Placing your Pikler against a scratch-proof surface would help make extra sure to leave no marks.
2. Playroom Obstacle Course
This idea doesn’t require anything more than a standard Pikler triangle set.
(We wrote an entire post comparing the best Pikler triangles.)
Since Pikler sets are modular in essence — all the pieces fit together perfectly. Whatever medley of arches, ramps, and slides you bought together with your triangle — you’re all set for an “American Ninja” style toddler obstacle course.
The idea here is — instead of free play — to define a challenge with a start and a finish.
Maybe that’s a track your toddler must follow. Maybe that’s a series of movements to complete.
Besides vertical climbing (up and down) the ladder, prompt your child to practice different motor skills — like lateral climbing (side to side), crawling underneath, or organizing the pieces into different arrangements (like a 3D puzzle).
By creating a fun challenge for your toddler, you’ve effectively created an obstacle course to further your young child’s problem-solving and spatial awareness.
How to get over that tiny fence? How to get around that tunnel? These are all situations that help get your toddler connect the dots between cognitive and motor skills.
3. Toddler Step Ladder
This tidbit’s my absolute favorite!
It’s such a simple idea — that you’re probably standing right on top of it. Yet for some reason, most parents forget.
Regular ladders are used to reach things that are out of reach.
A Pikler ladder is essentially a toddler-sized ladder.
So why not put it to use!?
Think about it — learning towers have become a wildly popular staple for in-home early childhood activities. The idea to raise the toddler up to the same level as adults, so they can work on counters in the kitchen counters and other adult-height surfaces.
This idea in particular is really aligned with Montessori principles of “putting kids to work” — so they develop real-life practical skills and independence.
Is there a bookshelf or toy closet in your home that’s too high for your little one to reach? Let’s put the Pikler to work — like the ladder it is!
I think it’s a wonderful life lesson — to teach your child they can overcome problems all by themself. All kids dream of the day when they grow big and strong like Mommy and Daddy — and here’s a way to foster a “go-getter” mindset.
You can do it!
4. Baby-Friendly Play Gym
Here’s another really practical idea for before your baby or young toddler is ready to climb.
Just hang some of your child’s favorite toys on your Pikler triangle — and eureka — you’ve created a custom baby mobile.
If you’ve ever shopped around for a baby gym — you’ve probably already had a lightbulb moment here.
Baby gyms are essentially just a frame with toys hanging from the center top beam.
Since the Pikler triangle is exactly the same shape, why not quick string them up yourself?
Not only is it the perfect way to introduce the Pikler triangle to your youngest, but also means you don’t need to buy a baby gym in the first place. Bingo!
5. Kids’ Shelf & Display
Practical parents are going to love this idea!
You can easily turn your Pikler triangle into a kid-sized shelf — for functional storage or just to display your child’s toys.
When you fold out your Pikler triangle, both sides have the same number of ladder rungs. All you need to do is rest a flat board between two equal-level rungs, and you’ve got a triangle-shaped shelf.
What to put on the shelf? Anything you want!
Make it into an easy-access bookshelf, pantry for healthy snacks, or a display for your kid’s stuffed animals.
6. Toy Car Race Track
For those of you who have the Pikler slide attachment (great choice) — you’re in luck!
Since the slide has a smooth surface, it makes the perfect runway for racing wheeled toys.
Just adjust the slide to a suitable slope, and watch as your toy vehicles zoom down the hill. It works for any round object — toy cars, trains, balls — you name it!
7. Comfy Reading Nook
Logistically, this idea is not any different from the indoor Pikler tent we just looked at.
But this time, we’re repurposing it for reading.
By draping bed sheets over your Pikler, placing extra bedding on the floor, and adding a soft-glowing lamp to set the mood — your little triangle teepee is transformed into a child-sized reading room.
Reading is so important for the developing mind, so any way parents can encourage it is good in my book. (Pun intended!)
Like a little private library where your toddler can curl up with a picture book — it’s the perfect way to stir up some magic around an educational activity.
8. Life-Size Abacus (Alphabet, Math, Colors & More)
Here’s an idea that you Montessori advocates are going to absolutely love!
Both colorful and fun-to-fidget, the abacus is a hands-on math learning tool.
Each row has 10 beads, so your kid can visually interact with the Base-10 decimal system (counting 0 to 9 and starting over again) — plus get a solid start with addition and subtraction.
If you think about it, the Pikler triangle itself is shaped quite similarly to the abacus — with long parallel rungs between a rectangular frame.
By attaching “counting beads”, you can turn your Pikler into a jumbo-sized abacus for your toddler to play with.
I would recommend something like colorful construction paper rings or little yarn doodads. Add ten “beads” to each rung.
Color code them in a stimulating color pattern. For example, most abacuses you buy use a “Roy G. Biv” rainbow color pattern — using the one color bead per rung, so it’s like each rung is a rainbow color stripe.
Write the letters of the alphabet or numbers one to ten — to add an element of reading. Draw or paste pictures of animals, plants, planets, or other objects — to build vocabulary.
I think you see the point! The “beads” are like flashcards you make yourself. Feel free to incorporate you and your toddler’s own style, interests, and learning objectives.
9. Pretend Play Dollhouse
The exact same way you set up the Pikler triangle shelf we just looked at — just this time use it as a dollhouse!
Dollhouses you buy are essentially a multi-story home where your kid can play with their toys, arrange furniture, and re-enact the scenarios they see in the world.
By adding those “shelves” onto your Pikler triangle, you’ve made a multi-story building for your child to play in exactly the same way!
Imagine a catwalk for stuffed animals, a treehouse for a family of peg dolls, or a parking garage for toy cars.
10. Kids’ Puppet Theater
It’s time for a puppet show!
Fold-out your Pikler triangle, place it on its side, and drape a sheet over it — and you’ve created your very own puppet show stage.
Pop some popcorn, and let the show begin!
Just like any other puppet theater you’d buy — your child just hides behind the Pikler triangle and acts out the show overtop.
They can use uses hand puppets or stuffed animals — or any other toys they like.
Alternatively, put on a shadow puppet show. Use a lamp to cast light onto the sheet, then your child can make hand shadow figures. No toys needed!
11. Clothes Drying Rack (Fun & Functional)
At the heart of Montessori education is helping children learn how to help themselves.
People unfamiliar with Montessori think it’s strange when Montessori educators say they’re “putting the kids to work”.
No, it’s not about unpaid child labor. It’s a research-backed educational approach that promotes children’s independence through experiential learning.
Well, here’s a way to take your child through the entire process of clothes washing, rinsing, drying, folding, and putting back into the dresser or closet.
Pikler triangles and clothes drying rack racks — the similarities between the two are remarkable.
Both can be used to hang clothes out to dry — whether it’s your own child’s clothes or their doll’s clothes — bed sheets, socks, or undies.
Take out some clothespins and practice fine motor skills, and set the clothes out to dry in the sunshine.
That’ll teach your child a useful life skill, or at least help them appreciate the work Mommy and Daddy do for them a little bit more.
12. Life-Size Knitting & Crochet
Parents who love to knit and crochet look forward to the day when their child is old enough to do it too.
For toddlers with limited fine motor skills, it might be a little too early to start an actual knitting project, but the Pikler triangle offers an interesting alternative.
If you think about it, the Pikler triangle is a lot like a cross-stitch grid or crochet loom — with solid rungs that make it easier to weave between.
I’d recommend getting rope or ultra-thick puff yarn — some kind of threading big enough to fit the space between your Pikler’s rungs.
Then simply weave in and out in a simple weave pattern rung to rung.
By the time you’re done, it’ll look like a weaving basket.
Your little one will practice the same hand motor skills they need to tie their shoes. It’s just a great way to blow it up into larger proportions and have a blast!
Like knitting and crocheting — you’ll tighten up all loose ends in your child’s learning!
Over to you!
There you have it! Twelve toddler-friendly Pikler triangle activities that go far beyond climbing!
If you want to learn more about the Pikler triangle in general, check out our Pikler triangle parent’s guide.
While the Pikler triangle itself is not Montessori, I think this proves there are all kinds of Montessori-aligned Pikler uses.
Just put on your thinking hat!
What interesting ways do you use the Pikler triangle in your home?
Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you, and add your idea to the list!