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Muddy Faces

INSPIRATIONS - simple dens

Ideas for den-making using everyday objects, for your Early Years/school setting.

What's New

Introduction

A den can be created from very simple resources and even very young children can create their own den spaces with a few blankets. Here we give you some ideas, top tips and suggestions for useful resources to have in your setting for independent den-maOutdoor Playking and den-making with some adult support.


Photos have been kindly provided by Jane Wratten & Slinn St STARters Community Pre-School, Sheffield.


* Muddy Faces actively promotes child-led outdoor play & learning (see the intro. to our Outdoor Play section for more on this). We recognise and believe in the curiosity that children have and their drive to explore and discover. We hope that you will bear this in mind when considering more prescribed activities like this one – often much more creative ideas will occur if resources are simply provided and children are given the time and space to explore independently.


Key Features

Environmental Considerations

Consider the environmental impact of preparing, carrying out & completing this activity. Could this impact be reduced? Specific considerations for this activity could include:

  • protecting trees from frictional rubbing

Health & Safety Considerations

Follow your usual operating procedures and carry out appropriate risk benefit assessments.
Some considerations particular to this activity include:

  • use of cord/rope
  • storage of den building equipment
  • avoid bamboo canes (sharp when they break) & ends can poke eyes

What you'll need

  • a selction of loose parts

This activity has been provided by



Moving the indoors outside – easy den building

Children love to build dens and they are so imaginative in their creations that they do not need special “den equipment”. If you look around your setting you will be able to locate many different items that are perfect for building dens. Why not take this equipment outside and let the children show you how it can be used?


Tables and chairs, a clothes airer, perhaps a plastic indoor climbing frame or even a pop-up tent or tunnel can make wonderful den frames. Old sheets and blankets or a table cloth, some lengths of fabric or even some old curtains make ideal den covers. Try jazzing it all up with some colourful organza or sequin fabric!

Cosy cardboard cave

Large cardboard boxes lend themselves perfectly to building a den – maybe the children can even decorate the inside of the box with paint or crayons.

Smaller cardboard boxes or empty plastic storage boxes are good for stacking when building walls.

Basket burrow

A large container like this basket, placed on its side, immediately becomes a ready-made den waiting to be customised by its occupants.

A large sheet or blanket draped over the top gives a sense of enclosure and, when inside, the occupants can pretend the world outside is a very different one.

Tipi

Tipis made from old broom handles, clothes poles or long sticks can provide an excellent frame.

Provide some rope, string or wool for securing the top, and materials for round the outside. An old sheet could be painted on.

Ton bag tent

Use a ton bag supported by poles for a perfect pop-up small space.

Stick props work to support the bag but are not very stable. Try lashing a cube frame to fit inside, or use the straps or tie the top corners to a fence. A perfect problem solving project for young minds!

Limited anchor points

If you are struggling for places to attach material/tarpaulins in your setting, look at our tarp den on a yard/hard space activity for some alternative fixing ideas using weights and pole stands.

Waterproof cover

Small tarpaulins are brilliant to use for simple waterproof dens.

Look at our INSPIRATION - tarpaulin dens for simple ways to set up a tarpaulin den in your setting.

Developing skills & resources

Design skills are key to a successful den and, by having a range of different-sized and shaped materials, children will have to consider logically and look carefully at the individual materials they are using. Over time you can build up your resources, providing a range of materials that can be used in many different ways.

Why not find a wooden pallet or an old fence panel (check for nails and any other hazards), supply resources to ensure it can be secured safely, and let the group or child do the rest?

Read more about dens below in our Outdoor Hub section on Dens & Loose Parts:

Dens & loose parts

Dens and loose parts play are a perfect partnership. This section looks at benefits and theories, guides and articles, and ideas for using dens and loose parts in your outdoor setting.

Read More about Dens & loose parts

Disclaimer: Muddy Faces cannot take any responsibility for accidents or damage that occurs as a result of following this activity.You are responsible for making sure the activity is conducted safely.

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