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Building a Den with Your Kids: What to Know

Den building is a fun and rewarding activity for all ages. You can do the project any time of the year, anywhere, whether it’s at your aging parents receiving hospice care services at home or the local camping area

They are the perfect birdwatching hideouts, shelters, and basecamps, and it’s a fun activity to tackle with your children. If you’re looking for your next weekend project, consider building a den with your kids.

Here’s how.

Den-Building Materials

A fun way to start the project with your child is by scavenging for natural materials from the woodland floor, allowing you to explore the beauty of nature while spending quality time with your kid.

You’ll need:

  • Long and sturdy straight branches and sticks
  • Plenty of ‘bendy’ sticks
  • Materials to cover the den, like fallen branches, fallen leaves, and grass

But since dens tend to fall quickly, especially when you have boisterous kids inside, don’t use anything too heavy in the building process for safety. Other things to bring that can make the project easier are tying materials such as rags, strings, or cloth pegs.

Whatever materials you go for, the best part of this little project is coming up with unique den designs with your kids. To give you some inspiration on how you can construct your dens — here are a couple of ideas to kickstart your project.

Tent-Shaped Den

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If you’re looking for a more manageable project that you can allow your school-age children to participate in, a tent-shaped den is a fantastic choice. Find two trees or any sturdy structure close together, put a long stick between them, and prop them against one another until you get a tent shape. After this, weave your ‘bendy’ sticks in and out of the upright, then add your covering, whether it’s a tarpaulin, plant materials, or fallen tree branches with leaves.

Teepee-Style Den

If you’re looking to build something unique or rustic, a teepee (tipi) style den can be a fun concept to try. Below is how you can create one from scratch.

  • Search for a tree with a ‘fork’ in its branches or build a structure with the same shape.
  • Add the long and straight sticks between the fork and fan them out.
  • Weave the bendy sticks in and out of the sticks you placed earlier to create walls, then leave some space for a window.
  • Cover the den with natural materials like fallen tree branches with leaves or a mud stick.
  • Finish off by scattering some fallen leaves inside to make it cozy.

Mini Den

This activity is a fun and safe way to involve your toddlers. All you need to do is collect a handful of small sticks and place them against a tree trunk or a sturdy wall to make a mini den. Then you can allow your child to make the inside of the shelter as nice and cozy they’d like using fallen leaves.

No matter how you choose to build your den with your child, remember to take it down after each use. It gives you an excuse to have fun making it all over again and experiment on different designs with your kid.

Den building is a relatively simple and fun way to bring your children outdoors and learn life skills they can use as they age — challenging their brains to think creatively, solve problems, and encourage them to work together with you. Plus, it’s a rewarding experience that gives you a cozy spot to enjoy with them.

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