Den Building

Submitted by: Hannah Hobbs
Grade level: ece,elementary
Core Competencies: communication,creative-thinking,critical-thinking
Subject Disciplines: outdoor-education

Den Building

Children often have a natural instinct to build shelters, possibly offering insight into their need to feel comfort, create a safe environment and feel secure in a space. The notion of creating a den or shelter links us back to the basic instincts and meeting of basic needs. Creating dens with peers and teachers allows for connections and relationships to be strengthened. Den building in nature allows these bonds and connections to be forged, and give children a chance to explore and manage their relationships skill, social and self-awareness and self-management through negotiation and implementation of their shelter.

Den building involves some risk when selecting and moving larger loose parts around, and it requires teamwork to be effective. Social competence is developed as children learn how to negotiate their play and ideas when there is a conflict or an issue arises in the build. Once the den or shelter has been built, there is an element of enjoyment attached to it. Children are able to see the fruits of their labour and enjoy socialisation in the den that they have created together. The Norwegian word “friluftsliv” describes exactly this idea; the sole enjoyment of being immersed in nature and the healing benefits it has.

The session:

As a group, discuss shelters and why we might need to make one.

Pause and look around. What resources are around us that we could use for a shelter?

What do we need to do to be able to build a shelter? How do you think we can work together to make one BIG shelter?

Challenge time! Can you work with your friends to build a den that’s big enough for someone to fit inside?

Work as a group to build your den. Model listening to ideas, trying them out and reflecting throughout the process. Highlight positive teamwork and how it leads to success.

Time to test out your shelter!

What do we think of our shelter? Consider what you like or would do differently next time. What resources did we use? Look back at our wonderings and see if we have any more/have developed our thoughts on them.

Reflection: How did we have to work as a team? What did we need to think about?

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