Can the princess feel the pea?

In the story of The Princess and the Pea, the princess can’t sleep because she can feel a pea through many layers of mattresses. We used the story to inspire first the building of a wooden bed and then the addition of mattress materials to see which cushioned our pea ( a marble ) most effectively.

Princess and the pea bed

The bed was built by my 9 year old using materials from TTS. He used wooden dowel, square lengths of wood, triangles and a glue gun ( with help from me ).

Design and tech wooden bed

Design and tech wooden bed


A bed, if you don’t want to make your own this could be as simple as a thick piece of cared, or a small dolls bed

A marble

Mattress materials such as sponges, bubble wrap, felt etc

Princess and the pea activity


Look at your materials and think about which would make the best mattress, remember your challenge is to not be able to feel the “pea” through the mattress.

Construct your mattress.

Press down, can you feel the “pea”?

Ask a friend to feel the mattress without telling them there is a hidden marble, can they tell there is something there?

Princess and the pea bed

Extension tasks

What’s the thinnest mattress you can make and not feel the pea?

Does changing the object in the bed affect how thick your mattress needs to be? Try using a coin, or dice.

Princess and the pea bed

Key Stage 1 Science

Everyday Materials – Identify and compare the suitability of a variety of everyday materials

Working Scientifically

Princess and the pea activity

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