Encourage child development and treat yourself to a fun project by completing a DIY Pikler triangle for your little one. Designed to promote gross motor skills, these climbing triangles help smaller kids learn to stand and walk and provide older kids with a fun prop for free play adventures. Keep reading to learn more about the origins of the climbing triangle and how to build your own DIY Pikler triangle to foster your child’s learning and growth.

Pikler Triangle Origins and Montessori Connections

Created by Hungarian pediatrician Dr. Emmi Pikler in the 20th century, the DIY Pikler triangle comprises two wood ladders that form a triangle. Dowel rungs on each side give little ones a place to grip, pull themselves up and climb, assisting them in motor skill development and encouraging free play.

Though Piker triangles are often thought to be a Montessori toy, they’re technically not, though the programs utilize these climbing ladders thanks to a shared philosophy of treating little ones like the unique individuals they are.

Ways a DIY Pikler Triangle Helps Kids Learn and Grow

Pikler triangles may seem boring to adults due to the simple design with two ladders, but nothing is further from the truth when you’re a child. These open-ended toys work well for kids 6 months to 5 years of age, so they’re a lasting part of their playroom, and they teach children a variety of things, from motor skills and self-confidence to independent play and problem-solving skills.

Promotes Gross Motor Skills

When you think of many of the milestones in your child’s life, most of them are related to gross motor skills. These large motion skills give kids the know-how to sit up, take their first step, run across the living room or climb on their DIY Pikler triangle. These skills also comprise things like gripping the ladder rungs, stretching their legs and maintaining balance, making a climbing triangle a simple way for little ones to learn how to pull themselves up and strengthen muscles in the arms, legs and core.

Boosts Self-Confidence

As kids learn how their bodies operate in relation to space, they gain more confidence in their abilities to climb, walk and run. A Pikler triangle can also help with this, since it teaches children to trust in what their instincts tell them during play. They can experiment by seeing how high they can climb and how to get to the other side and figure out how to stretch their skills in a safe way. Since children can control every aspect of play on the dowels and triangle, they gain self-confidence with every session.

Fosters Independent Play

Being able to play alone is a big step in child development, and a Pikler triangle helps with that by encouraging independent play. This open-ended toy provides little ones with space to experiment with movement and imagination. Since there are no set expectations for play on the triangle, kids can do whatever they wish on the colorful ladders and create their own games.

To further foster independent play, it helps to stand back and let kids do their own thing with the Pikler triangle rather than aiding them when they miss a rung, fall down or fail to achieve a goal. This failure helps them learn how to deal with their emotions and try again until they get it right, so watch over them, but don’t feel like you have to help them or add your spin to their games.

Aids Problem-Solving Skills

With gross motor skill development, the self-confidence it brings and the capacity for independent play, kids start learning how to solve problems. A Pikler triangle can help with this by giving children simple decisions to make about how they play. Each failure teaches them to try again, while each success spurs them toward new experiments.

For instance, if your little one climbs to the top of the triangle, what do they do next? Their choices are ultimately climbing back down one of the two ladders — the one they went up or the one on the opposite side — helping them learn to weigh risk with reward. Likewise, if a little one is trying to climb another rung and can’t, the Pikler triangle gives them planning options that help them figure out what to do next.

Building Your Children Their Own Pikler Triangle

Though building a Pikler triangle on your own may seem like a big task, this ladder project itself is relatively simple. Building Pikler triangles does, however, require specialized tools and a bit of planning.

Tools and Supplies for Building Pikler Triangles

Building a Pikler triangle requires power tools such as a circular saw, band saw and miter saw for cutting shapes from plywood, a drill and bit or a drill press and a Forstner bit for adding a pilot hole and dowel holes to the longer leg and shorter leg of the ladders and a sander or sandpaper for creating rounded corners. Other necessary supplies include wood glue, plywood board, screws, and nontoxic paint like Real Milk Paint® for finishing your creation.

Steps for Building Your Own DIY Pikler Triangle

The first step to building a DIY Pikler triangle is to cut the plywood board down into four rails — two long and two short — and two triangles, which create the pivot point. Next, decide how far apart you want the dowels of each ladder rung and use your drill or drill press to add holes for them accordingly. This DIY Pikler triangle has no set dimensions, allowing you to measure and customize the location of the holes and rungs and the general size however you like. Download the printable PDF plans with templates for more specific instructions on completing this woodworking project.

Finishing Pikler Triangles for Education and Safety

Once you’ve completed your DIY Pikler triangle per the printable PDF plans, you’ll want to finish it in a way that’s safe for your child. That’s where the Real Milk Paint Co. comes in with nontoxic paint that holds up beautifully to rambunctious children. Since color encourages imaginative play, consider mixing it up in your paint job. For example, use a bright shade of red for the long leg and a muted shade of blue for the shorter side. You can also use a different hue for each dowel rung to help them learn each of the colors.

For extended durability, you’ll want to apply a finish over the wood and milk paint. Some great nontoxic options include Hemp Oil or Wood Wax. These completely natural and VOC-free finish options will seal the milk paint and wood all in one. It’s important to note that they also will darken the colors of the milk paint.

There are numerous creative ways to further customize your DIY Pikler triangle with just scrap pieces of wood, including adding a ramp with handholds for a rock climbing wall experience. This simplicity and capacity for personalization make a Pikler triangle a great choice for both you and your child. You can enjoy both the thrill of building it with your own two hands, from cutting the wood and crafting the rounded edges to drilling the holes and adding the dowels and then seeing your children bloom as they play on the colorful creation you finished with kid-safe Real Milk Paint®.

Watch the video below to see just how easy it is to make your own pikler triangle!