Outdoor den making is one of childhood’s great joys. It is not only fun but it is a great opportunity for role play, creativity and physical development. Forest schools are becoming increasingly popular as a way of getting children outdoors to learn and develop skills and confidence with den building being a key activity. Even if you don’t have the chance to get to a woodland to make dens, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor den making in a playground or outdoor play area.
Here are some of our favourite idea for outdoor dens.
The Mini Wigwam
The mini wigwam is a great little place for a child that would like some quiet time to rest or read a book. It very quick and simple to make with a bunch of bamboo canes tied at the top and fabric wrapped around and secures with clips or pegs.
The Kiddie Cave
A larger den for one or more children to play in is a great way to facilitate role play and communication. It also provides a cool and sheltered area on a sunny day. We used a garden bench with crates and bamboo to construct our frame before covering with a variety of fabrics and clipping in place.
The Hula Hoop Hideout
The hula hoop hideout is a fun idea for role play for 1 or 2 children. The great thing about this den is that you can be as creative as you like by clipping a variety of colourful materials and even tying ribbons to a hula hoop before suspending it on a piece of string from the branch of a tree. As it was a windy day, when we made ours, we used an extra piece of string around the tree to hold it still.
The Bird Hide
A den made using camouflage material makes a great bird hide. For best results position your bird hide in a quiet area. Homemade birdfeeders are also fun to make and a great way of attracting birds for the children to observe. There is a great post on Happy Hooligans with lots of ideas for homemade birdfeeders that children could make.
The Tree Tent
If you happen to have 2 trees or even fence posts available, a piece of string tied between them provides an easy opportunity for children to make a deb. A sheet of fabric or canopy can then be hung over the string and the sides pegged or weighted to hold the tent open.
Our top 5 den making tips
- Get children involved in creating dens, they are sure to come up with some great ideas.
- If you are struggling to create a solid structure, leaning it against a wall or piece of outdoor equipment such as a bench or climbing frame will help to make it more stable.
- Use string, large pegs or fixing clips to secure covers onto den and hold everything in place.
- Put a waterproof sheet or tarpaulin on the floor of a den to give children a dry area to sit down.
- Make a den into a really special place by letting children decorate it with natural materials of pieces of fabric and ribbons.
For more ideas and inspiration visit our Outdoor Learning pages.