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Build an Elf House | An Outdoor Science Adventure

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This activity from the book Science Adventures is a great way to introduce children to early science concepts like scale and proportion. This activity will challenge children to build houses that are proportionally appropriate for a doll, stuffed animal, or some other toy. Through trial and error, the children will be able to determine the sizes of the houses they build. 


  • Small elf, doll, or other small toy
  • Sticks
  • Branches with leaves
  • Flowers
  • Flat Rocks
  • Sand
  • Any other natural materials the children would like to use


What To Do

  1. Bring the children outside to the designated construction area, and show them the building materials.
  2. Invite the children to tell a story about a group of elves who each night come out of the forest and need a place to sleep. Encourage the children to describe what the elves wear, what their personalities are like, how many of them there are, and why they need to leave the forest at night.
  3. When they finish describing the elves, separate the children into groups and invite them to use the materials available to make houses where the elves can sleep at night. Show the children the dolls or stuffed animals, and explain to the children that the elves are a similar size, so the children should build houses large enough for creatures of that size to sleep comfortably in them.
  4. As the children work, encourage them to use the doll or stuffed animal occasionally to check to see if the rooms they make are of appropriate size, and talk with them about ways to alter rooms that are too small for the elves.

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