My kids love making fairy houses, and they are brilliant but what they are really doing is honing their den building skills! It is usually possible to find a spot to make a little fairy house on a campsite but not all campsites can provide the decent bit of woodland that is required to make a good den. However, our recent visit to the fabulous woods of Inwood Campsite provided the perfect opportunity for den building.
I steered the eager band of children towards an unused pitch among the trees a short distance from our pitch. We selected a tree as the base of our den. On this occasion we found a tree growing at a slant which provided the perfect base for a teepee style den! And then we set about searching out plenty of long sticks.
The pace was fast, the search area wide. Hands were scratched as we wrestled fallen branches from the undergrowth, plans were made, discussions where frequent and sometimes oppositional.
‘the entrance should be here’
‘ok, how about that is the back door?’
‘den’s don’t have back doors’ etc,etc.
Team work, planning, co-operation, creative thinking, argument resolution. Having fun in the outdoors provides so many learning opportunities plus you get a cool den at the end of it!
We found fallen fir-tree branches which made fantastic cover for the den. A path was constructed to the entrance and ‘paved’ with more small fir branches. Small logs were procured to create seats inside the den. I had to laugh when one of the kids suggested one log was the TV!
Once construction was complete every opportunity was taken to make full use of the new accommodation. Meals where trotted over and decorations were made. I came back after they had been playing alone for a while and found they had constructed a forest mobile, searching out interesting bits and pieces on the forest floor and tying numerous knots. It was really lovely!
The great thing about the den in the woods was that the children really took ownership of it. Showing it off to campsite friends, decorating, altering, making up role play games to play in it. It was great for them and it was great for the adults, as we enjoyed some quiet moments while they were busy with the den. Bonus!