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Can you build it?


We all love going on holidays. When we are on holiday we can stay in lots of different times of accommodation e.g. hotels, villas, apartments, caravans, tents etc

From your ‘My Summer Holiday’ 2Do we learnt that lots of you enjoy camping holidays. Perhaps some of you have even been on a camping holiday in your back garden during lockdown!


In our ‘Commotion in the Ocean’ topic we have been looking at different materials, their properties and why they are used for different jobs. Now let’s see if we can use some of that marvellous materials knowledge to build a tent for one of your toys so that they can enjoy a camping holiday too! Choose one of your favourite toys (it could  be a teddy, doll, action figure etc) to go on the camping holiday!


Talk to a grown up about what materials and objects you have in and around your house that you could use for this design and make challenge.

What material properties are needed for the different parts of the tent?

What will you make the frame out of?    e.g. coat hangers, sticks, lego blocks, cardboard 

What will you cover the tent with?         e.g. pillow case, plastic bag, old t-shirt

What will your toy sleep on?                   e.g. straw, off cut of carpet, sponge, kitchen towel 

How will you fix the materials together? e.g. string, elastic bands, sellotape


(The materials above are only suggestions and we are sure your child will come up with much better ideas. The mind of a Y1 is often more inventive and creative than our teacher brains!)


If you’ve ever been camping in Wales you’ll know that the weather can change very quickly a sunny day can soon turn into a wet and windy day. To add an extra challenge and some more fun into this activity, your toy’s tent needs to stand up to a weather test. We had a lot of fun with water last week so instead of testing the toy’s tent in rainy weather let’s test it in windy weather. Will your toy’s tent pass the hairdryer test?!?! Once you have built it will it stand up to 1 minute of ‘wind’ produced by a hair dryer on full power? You’ll need to ask a grown up to help you with this.


Whilst your child is ‘building’ their toy’s tent allow them to explore the different materials and encourage them to talk about them using scientific vocabulary. Ask your child to talk about how the materials feel and behave, asking questions such as: 

Does it feel soft? Strong? 

Will it be good material for building a tent? Will it blow down when the wind blows? Why will it blow down? 

What useful properties do the materials need to have, to be good materials for tent building? 

Ask your child to tell you which material will be the most successful for tent building and why.


Parents … one of the hardest challenges for adults to overcome when engaged in a challenge like this is to appreciate that the work your child produces doesn’t need to be a ‘perfect finished product’ or even look like the type of tent we would traditionally go camping in. The process is as important as the product, often more important.

What is important to your child’s learning is:

  • They have used what they know about materials to test out and explore different ideas.

  • They have thought about the design challenge …

What are they making? A tent!

Who are they making it for? A toy!

Why are they making it? So that they can go on a camping holiday in Wales in the wind!

  • They have shown resilience to overcome problems, persevered, talked about and developed their ideas.


  • An added bonus would be that their toy’s tent passes the ‘hairdryer test’ but again, if it doesn’t, there is important learning in that too. As adults we know we can sometimes learn more from the things that don’t work than the things that do!


We can’t wait to see how inventive you have been. Use the Purple Mash 2Do to share a photo of your toy’s tent with us and write a sentence (…or 2!) to tell us what happened to it in the windy weather! 


Good luck and we hope you have lots of fun designing and exploring ideas together.

Extra challenge:

If space and resources allow (… and you’re feeling brave enough) you could then encourage your child to build a tent that they and their toy can fit in. This might be a great idea for out in the garden. Can they use what they learnt from building the toy tent to build a bigger tent? … and the good news is you’re going on a camping holiday in sunny Wales!


Happy designing and making!