Fun with traditional buildings: our free children’s activities for the holidays

Families, Schools | Written by: | Thursday 29 June 2023

When the school holidays approach it’s best to be prepared. With our free printables and children’s activities, keep young people learning and nurture their interest in Scotland’s traditional buildings! Our free self-led activities have something for every learner and are easy to do from home or in the classroom. Have fun with paper, complete a wordsearch and check out our 3D models on the Sketchfab website. Use what you’ve got available to explore the building materials of traditional buildings.

Get inspired with Scotland’s built heritage and don’t forget to share your creations with us, we’d love to see them. Tag us on Twitter using @HESEngineShed.

Chocolate casting

Black, highly decorative ironwork railings, running along the side of a pavement. They are fixed on top of a low, stone wall.

Get creative with what you make, using our chocolate casting activity. These are cast iron railings at Dowanhill, Glasgow.

Age: 6+
Supervised: Yes

Our most delicious activity and fun to do together! Learn about cast iron as a traditional building material. Explore the skill of casting iron into different shapes to create different objects. Then put your new knowledge to good use, but instead of casting with iron, make your creations with chocolate!

Download Chocolate Casting

How Was It Built? Colouring Sheets

A historic stone castle, with a large entrance way flanked by two round towers. A newer part of the building is coated in a bright, gold lime coating.

Learn about how Stirling Castle was made with our colouring sheets.

Age: Various levels of difficulty available
Supervised: No

Get creative with the kids or bring some mindfulness to your day as you colour in sheets of Historic Environment Scotland sites. These include Stirling Castle, Melrose Abbey and the Blackhouse in Arnol. Learn about the materials these places were built with and the people who made them.

Download Colouring Sheets

How Was It Built? Wordsearches

A wyvern (type of dragon) carved into the side of a building as a stone gargoyle

Can you find the gargoyle in our wordsearches? This wveryn is a carved stone gargoyle at Glasgow Cathedral.

Age: Various levels of difficulty available
Supervised: No

Stone, thatch and timber! Enjoy learning about Scotland’s traditional buildings and building materials with our wordsearches. Get to know different building features and terms. Try out our easy versions or test your skills with something more challenging.

Download Wordsearches

Make it with Paper: Scotland’s Historic Places

A long, narrow single-storey building made from stones stacked on top of each other. It has a thatched roof which is netted down with stones.

The Blackhouse at Arnol, Lewis.

Age: Various levels of difficulty available
Supervised: Fun to do together

Learn how some of Scotland’s most incredible buildings and structures were made, then have a go at creating them yourself with paper! Our activities include ‘Tenement House’, ‘Tower House’, ‘Materials Construction’ and ‘Changing Cities’. Colour and decorate your designs with what you have available.

Download Paper Models

Digital Explorers: Fun with Apps

A highly accurate 3D model of a tomb slab. It is carved with patterns, dog-like animals and people. One figure is riding a horse.

On Sketchfab, you can explore our highly accurate 3D model of the St Andrews Sarcophagus at St Andrews Cathedral.

New Sketchfab challenge

Age: 7+
Supervised: No

At Historic Environment Scotland, we care for more than 40,000 objects at 160 properties across Scotland. Discover some of these objects digitally using the Sketchfab website. Test what you’ve learned and answer the questions in this new self-led activity challenge.

Download SketchFab Challenge

A cat's paw print, imprinted into a small piece of stone

What kind of animal do you think made this tile print? Explore the paw-print tile in our Sketchfab Challenge.

Share your creations

Have you made something using our self-led activities? We’d love to see your creations. Share them with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Find out more

Want to see more examples of Scotland’s traditional buildings? Find photos and facts in the HES archives and collections.

Discover more about Scotland’s traditional buildings from our blog:

Find more learning activities relating to Scotland’s history and heritage on the Historic Environment Scotland website.

About the authors

Katie Sludden is a Technical Education Officer, working at the Engine Shed as part of the Technical Outreach and Education team. She loves to develop engaging, inspiring and educational content. See more blogs by Katie.

Anne Schmidt is a Content Officer, working at the Engine Shed. Her background is building conservation and she enjoys telling people about different traditional building materials, particularly lime and sustainable refurbishment. See more blogs by Anne.

About the author:



From time to time we have guest posts from partners, visitors and friends of the Engine Shed.