Den Building

While we were in Wales, we went to GreenWood Forest park which is a great day out for families and I would recommend it. You can read our full review on the link above, but for today’s CountryKids I want to focus on the den building activity which the kids did while we were there.

(For any American readers, to clear any confusion you may be more familiar with the term “fort building” as I’ve heard these children’s play structures are not referred to as “dens” in America.)

What skills do children learn from Den building

I love the idea of this, that inside an activity park where they do have a lot of exciting and big activities like roller coaster or giant slides, they also have a section of woodland which is just a big area of woods with lots of sticks and the children can make dens. It’s such a simple and low tech activity and I love that it can compete with these other activities and still be exciting for the children. In fact Mr Z said it was his favourite activity! I definitely should take them to the woods to build dens more often, as seeing the sense of pride and satisfaction they get from building it shows me how valuable these kind of experiences are for them. It is so cute to see the three of them working together to carry and place the wood!

So what do children learn from den building?

Den building out in the woods is loose parts play with natural elements, giving children a chance to connect with nature and enjoy the textures of the wood and bark. It’s gross motor play, involving their whole bodies and allowing them to exert lots of energy in lifting and carrying the wood, and running from place to place to collect more and explore the environment.

It takes lots of planning and coordination to lift and place large branches, and allows children to work on their engineering skills as they work out the best way to form a strong structure that will hold up well and allow them to get inside.

Den building helps children to work together, building their team work and social skills. It’s not so easy or fun to build a den all alone! And since it’s a joint venture, there is no winning or losing and everyone feels equally as proud of the end product.

Making a den also gives children a way to combine their creativity with outdoor play. Great for energetic children who are less keen on sit down crafts. How to design the den, how to decorate it? There are lots of ways for children to add a touch of personality and make it their own.

Of course, this activity is perfect for imaginary play too. Once the den is built it can become a house, a cave, a fortress or whatever their heart desires.

It’s a simple and timeless no frills activity, with lots to enjoy and learn!

Make them in your local woods, in the garden, or inside the home with other materials.

This post would not be complete without lots of den building photos! Here are some from our den building session at Greenwood Forest Park

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Children’s Dens and Play Spaces

35 thoughts on “Den Building”

  1. Posts like this make me wish for my girls to be that little bit older! SO look forward to getting out and about more and adventuring! Love it 🙂

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  2. You could try closer to home Epping Forest near Loughton area, High Beech inparticular. Or if you want something abot more structured how about Suntrap in Loughton an education centre?

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  3. They look like they’re having so much fun. We were very lucky when we were growing up because we had a small woods just over the back of where we lived. We used to spend hours in there building dens and we had so much fun! Where we live now, we’re not too far from Queen Elizabeth Country Park and there is loads for kids to do there, and also lots of den building opportunities!
    Dawn Frazier recently posted…Comfort toys and thumb suckingMy Profile

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  4. Can’t beat a good den building session and what perfect sticks you had there too. The little cirle photos work so well to show your den in building. I know how my kids can spend all day here at Coombe Mill tucked away in the woods doing just this, though the sticks are never quite so beautifully formed here. Thank you for sharing on Country Kids.
    Coombemill recently posted…Sixteen and PregnantMy Profile

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  5. While out dog walking recently I discovered about 4 or 5 little den’s just like the ones you have pictured in the woods where I walk. There was no one in sight, it was as if the wobbles had been there. I keep meaning to go back with my camera as I must do a post on a den making party…it would be so cool. The kids could take a picnic there and play for hours.

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