The Princess & the Pea - Outdoor Play

As you know Minnie has been eagerly gardening & tending her fruit & vegetable seedlings. For some reason her favourite plants are the peas. With this in mind I couldn't resist introducing her to the classic Fairy Tale "The Princess & The Pea" by Hans Christian Anderson.  Minnie loves the story & she finds the amount of mattresses offered by the queen hilarious. As she is always keen to play outdoors I thought I'd set up a 'Princess & the Pea' play area for her.
 Not surprisingly I had a little difficulty finding vast quantities of mattresses to take outside, but these cushions made a neat alternative!

Minnie piled the cushions & pillows as high as she could & tried to climb up to the top.

The tower of 'mattresses' didn't stand for long, & soon she was eagerly building another tower.

Once she had piled her 'mattresses' I lifted her to the top. Much giggling & screams of laughter followed as she rolled, & tumbled to the ground.

Then Minnie placed a dried pea under the bottom cushion & built her mattress tower once more. Amazingly she could still feel the pea - she must be a real Princess! ;-)

This was such a fun activity & one which enabled Minnie to retell the story in her own words. She adored acting out the key characters, pretending to be the queen making the bed with the many mattresses, & then becoming the Princess balancing on top of them, & of course falling off!
This physical play also enabled her to test out her gross motor moves & balancing skills, as well as predict & explore how the many cushions would balance on top of one another. As she built each tower of cushions she was able to adapt her thinking & eventually discovered that the larger cushions worked better at the bottom with the smaller ones at the top.

I love a simple play set up like this that just flows & grows with children's imagination & discovery, perfect!

For more activities exploring stories check out our Story Tree, The Gruffalo, & Playing Inside a Book.


  1. 'How to combine outdoor play, literacy, growing vegetables & the Royal Wedding in one activity!' This just got me straight away!

    lovely activity, great photos. how old is minnie?

  2. This is so cute. I love how you are always so creative with acting out the stories, it gives us so many ideas! Thank you.

  3. You had me hooked with your first sentence :)

  4. Oh wow! I LOVE this idea - your little Minnie looks absolutely enthralled in utter delight and glee!!! I almost wish I could have been there to witness her sheer delight ... your picture just scream fantastic child's play!
    You definitely have a new reader here!

  5. My little girl loves the Ladybird version of Princess and the Pea. She will love this idea-will do this and it fits in so well with the Royal Wedding.

  6. Thanks so much for all your lovely comments.
    @GNN - Minnie has just turned 3yrs & her imagination is growing with her, just so magical to observe.

  7. Hi Catherine, what a cute idea! My own 'Princess Pea' also loves that story.
    I wanted to let you know that I am awarding you the Versatile Blogger award. (See the link below.) You have so many wonderful ideas for play and learning, thanks for sharing them with us all!

  8. Lovely to see Minnie having fun. We don't kiss our plants (maybe we should?) but we do blow them to our cakes before we pop them in the oven. Thanks for joining in with the Play Academy again :)

  9. Thank you for linking to the RC. This is such a full post that there are lots ofideas for teachers. Thank you!