Outdoor Play | Build a Den
Summer is a brilliant time of year for whiling away the hours in a den you've built yourself, or for having a well-deserved rest while your kids enjoy adding the finishing touches.
Kids of all ages will love a space just for them outdoors in your garden, woodland or nearby park. For babies and small children, the contained space can help them feel safe and give them a place away from the action to watch the world. If you're lucky, they might even settle down and have a nap. On a day out in hot weather, a den can offer a shady place to to play. Wherever you are, cosy dens with cushions are brilliant for slowing down, getting cosy, sharing a book, chatting or imaginative play.
Older children will love the chance to make their own den from materials they find lying around and set up camp. Let them take the lead in how they want it to look, what they want to put in it as well as figuring out how best to build it. Encourage them to take their own toys, books and snacks to their den to make a home from home.
Also, create mini dens out of natural materials for fairies and woodland creatures. Decorate with bark, moss and flowers.
To make a den, you need three elements:
1. A structure
Use ready-made structures such as our Conscious Craft Trigonos kits or teepees or make your own. Anything which makes a space big enough for your child to crawl into is a good size. Chairs, tables, an old pallet, clothes airer or cardboard box are good things to start with. You could also use bamboo canes or other poles, such as broom handles to make a wigwam. Try leaning sticks against a tree if you're out in the woods. Another good idea is to suspend a horizontal hula hoop from a washing line with string.
2. Hanging materials for the 'walls'
Choose your materials depending on whether you want the light to shine through or more shade or whether it might rain and you need something waterproof. Try blankets, old sheets, large square scarves or cotton play cloths or a tarpaulin. Drape them over the structure leaving a space or flap for a 'door'. Use stones or tent pegs to fix the shelter to the ground, helping it feel more secure.
3. Things to tie or clip everything together
This is where the kids might need your help to create a structure that stays in place. Use string, rope, play clips, ribbon, bungees, large elastic bands, clothes pegs or rags cut into narrow lengths.
Now decorate and move the cuddly toys or small world figures in!
Once you've gathered the basics, why not make a portable den-making kit to carry with you to the park or woodland picnics.
Here are a couple of links to Woodland Trust Nature Detectives videos to inspire your children: