I don’t think I’ve ever meet a child who hasn’t enjoyed building dens and my children are no exception. I know I loved building dens all over the place as a child, behind the sofa, under the bed, under the dinning room table, in the garden or even in the fields behind my parent’s home. That sense of adventure and achievement at having built a shelter. My siblings and I spent many a happy afternoon experimenting with various den designs trying to work out which was the best. We even split up and made ‘girls dens’ and ‘boys dens’ and would try to discover where each others was based. I have so many childhood memories about den building.
When I had the boys one thing I looked forward to was being able to introduce them to den building and how you could use simply everyday items to make one. I love watching the little ones I look after when I introduce them to a simple den in the play room, how they start off not being too sure but within minutes are sqealing with delight at the discovery of what’s inside. This last year has seen the boys really start to enjoy den building more than ever and when ever there is an opportunity the boys grab a blanket or sheet and make one.
|simple blanket over a table den indoors|
I have always been a big fan of the National Trust, visiting various properties both here in Wales or in England when I was growing up and also now with my own family. So when I discovered their 50 things to do before your 11 3/4 campaign recently I was keen to get involved with the children. One of the 50 things is den building, how perfect I thought and an easy one to start off with. The National Trust 50 things before your 11 3/4 campaign is designed to help your child enjoy the best of the outdoors, something I am keen to get my own children doing. Some of the 50 things are very simple and can be done in your own garden. There are some great things to try and things that I loved doing as a child and hope the children enjoy too.
With the weather improving I am keen to get the children out and making the most of the garden, beaches and countryside around us. My hope is that the 50 things will help encourage the boys to try new things and help them enjoy the outdoors.
Just before the May day bank holiday I bought a small den building kit for the boys, I wanted to give them something different from the blankets and sheets they had been using to build dens with. Then bank holiday Monday I woke to a dry day having had almost a week of rain, seized the opportunity to cut the grass and got the den building kit out.
|Den building kit|
The kit consists of a Tarpaulin, four crocodile grips, a rubber mallet and some plastic pegs. I also dug out a picnic rug and a beach shelter to use. Then while Dad of 3 set about preparing a BBQ for us to enjoy I encouraged the boys to build a den. I helped them to put the beach shelter up and then asked them to think about how they wanted their den to look. Trystan and Luc decided they wanted to attach the tarpaulin to the beach shelter and then find something else to attach the other end of the tarpaulin too. I helped them to use the crocodile grips to attach the tarpaulin to the beach shelter and then told them to look around the garden for something else they could use to hold the other end of the tarpaulin up.
Trystan came up with the idea of using the slide at one end and pulled it over to the den. Again I helped to secure the tarpaulin to the slide. The boys thought the den didn’t look quite right so went to look for something else to use. Luc found the coupe car and we attached it to the other corner of the tarpaulin. I repositioned the slide so it could still be used while holding up the corner of the den. Then the boys laid out the picnic rug inside the den so they had somewhere comfortable to sit. Rowan than brought a pop up tunnel over and positioned it half inside the den so they could crawl through it to get in and out. Once happy with their den we stood back to admire their effects.
Running to get their books and teddies the boys made themselves at home and Erin came to investigate what they had been up to. It looked quite impressive and provided a long sheltered spot for them to relax in out of the sun. The rest of the afternoon the four children played happily inside the den and even took their BBQ food inside to eat in there. While dad of 3 and myself relaxed on the patio and watched them playing.
The boys wanted to keep the den up but with a forecast of gales and heavy rain the following day I explained we had better pack it away for now but promised they could use the kit to build another den at the next chance they had.
With half term a week away I am hoping we have some dry days so we can get stuck in and try some more of the 50 things and am hoping to explore some new National Trust properties. Keep your eye open for more of our 50 things adventures. Why not take up the 50 things challenge yourselves? we would love to hear which of the 50 things you have tried too.