Den Building

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

Building dens is a fond childhood memory of mine.

On a rainy day it would comprise of draping a blanket over the open stairs in the house.

In the height the summer, we would create a more ambitious den built using items we found lying around on the building site (it was the 1970's and health and safety was a bit sketchy then!)

Today, there are a range of tents on the market from sophisticated teepees, tents with tunnels to simple pop up tents you can buy for under a tenner.

As convenient as these 'ready made' tents are, I think our children are missing out, not only of the fun element of creating their own den but on the educational benefits too.

Educational Benefits of Den Building

Den building provides an excellent opportunity to explore design and technology through building and construction, the opportunity to explore, experiment, make mistakes and problem solve in a safe environment, promotes physical development and co-operation, turn-taking, listening to others' ideas and communication skills through teamwork.

Den Building Ideas

Dens can be built using everyday items found around the home and garden.

Here are some examples:

  • Use items found in nature: straw, hay, dried grasses, twigs and sticks.

  • Work around existing features such as a play equipment, trees, a gazebo, or a washing line.

  • If indoors, drape a sheet or blanket over two chairs, a table or underneath open stairs.

Accesorise your Den

  • Add cushions, beanbags, books, activities, soft toys and a blanket

  • String fairy lights, add glow in the dark stickers, glitter lamps and light up toys.

  • Add items to encourage scientific investigation: a torch, mirror, magnifying glass

  • A snack and a drink.

Themed Dens

Theming your dens spark the creativity and imagination and present a wonderful opportunity for sensory play.

Here are some ideas:

Beach Themed Den

  • Place a layer of sand on the floor. Add natural items you may find on a beach: driftwood, seaweed, sponges, starfish, pebbles and seashells.

  • Provide sand toys bucket, spade, scoop, rake, sieve and a scoop.

The Beach - A Multisensory Exploration of the Seaside

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Space Themed Den

  • String LED/fairylights/battery lights to create stars.

  • Create a rocky area using painted scrunched up newspaper, and smaller moon rocks from play-doh or scrunched up aluminium foil.

  • Provide an assortment of cardboard boxes, aluminium foil, space blankets, pipe cleaners, wellies (cover with foil to make moon boots), empty plastic bottles, old cd's, masking tape, tumble dryer venting hose, egg boxes for explorers to make their own rockets, moon buggys, and space suits.

  • Make a scientific exploration area. Add magnifying glasses, tweezers, magnets & magnetic items, Yo-Yo, fidget spinner, light up & spinning toys, torches, hand fans, glow sticks, light up spikey balls, mirrors, silly string, foam, stretchy worms and fidget cubes.

Journey into Space - A Multisensory Exploration of the Solar System

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Story Themed Den - 'The Three Little Pigs'

  • The Straw House: Straw/Dried Grass/Hay/Shredded Wheat/Dried Vermicelli/Dried Noodles /Shredded PaperThe Stick House: Twigs/Sticks/Twiglets/Breadsticks/Cinnamon Sticks/Wooden Lollipop or Craft Sticks

  • The Brick House: Lego/Duplo/Stickle Bricks/Wooden Blocks

  • The Wolf: Place clingfilm over the head of a torch, draw teeth onto the clingfilm then cast a shadow! Alternatively the wolf could be represented by fake 'joke' teeth, furry material or a feather duster.

  • Add items to explore the action of blowing: Tissue paper, drinking straws, feathers, blowing bubbles, party blowers, harmonica, kazoo, battery operated/manual/paper/card fan, balloon or bicycle pump/bellows/foot pump.

The Three Little Pigs - A Multisensory Exploration

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Your questions, queries, comments & feedback are always welcome!