The Benefits Of Stimulating Den Making Activities For Primary School Children
Children love dens! Making them, breaking them, participating in make-believe play in them; it’s all there for children with a passion for creating and a of sense adventure.
Den building is a brilliantly easy way to have fun and to make children’s learning exciting, while developing many skills across the different areas of learning at EYFS, KS1 and KS2. Particularly in the Early Years, it requires skills that are crucial for children’s readiness to learn in a school environment.
As Den Building is a stimulating activity, we have explored 7 benefits of den building in the playground.
1. Physical Development
Physically speaking, den building is not an activity that can or should be enjoyed sitting down, so it’s great for children’s health, fitness and general wellbeing. It involves lots of physical movement and exercise as children work, collecting their materials, stretching and reaching to build their den and then engaging in active role play.
It promotes gross motor skill development through moving, lifting and carrying materials to make their den. Tactile and fine motor development is a big feature of our Den Making Posts thanks to the totem holes and grooves.
Children can really put their hands and fingers to work threading and weaving, manipulating and fixing materials, placing, gripping and grasping, and tying knots. If children can really get stuck in to building their dens and enjoying their time out in the fresh air, then you know it’s doing them the world of good.
2. Teamwork and cooperation
Working together is really the only way to succeed if you want to build a good den! Teamwork is a big life skill for children to learn and if the children enjoy building dens together with their Den Posts then they will get plenty of practice.
Whether agreeing on a design or constructing their dens, or moving materials that may be difficult to lift or place alone, they will learn how to communicate their thoughts and ideas with each other.
They may also have to learn how to negotiate effectively to achieve an outcome and how to make inevitable compromises when not everyone can agree! It’s a great opportunity for children to learn new skills from each other.
Importantly, creating their dens demonstrates to children how working together to achieve a goal can be extremely satisfying and rewarding. They can be proud of themselves and rightly so - the sense of team morale when they have built a fantastic den to play in together is a great confidence booster for them.
3. Problem Solving
Solving problems creatively is a fairly essential skill if you want to build the best den you can with the resources that you have. Den building activities with your Wigwam Posts present plenty of opportunities for children to use their imaginations, and to practice creative problem solving, mathematical skills and critical thinking.
They won’t realise it, but practical application of maths, physics and engineering are all part of the fun!
To build what they want to achieve and to make their structure sound, children will need to think creatively and logically to work around problems that they encounter.
Using the Den Making Posts to create any den where children need to count, match or sort shape and size and consider weight, helps them to learn and improve their maths understanding.
Children can be creative and flexible with the materials that they use and develop an understanding of how different materials can be used. They will need to look carefully at the weight, shape and size of the materials they are using and consider how position and weight can affect the build and alter the shape of the den. Design skills are key to success.
Materials are constantly being put together and taken apart to try and find the best solution to the problem.
- How can we make sure the den is strong and will stand secure?
- Does it provide shelter from the weather?
- Where will the access points be?
- Do we need to change anything to make it work better?
4. Communication and Language Development
Communication and language development may not be something that you would immediately associate with den building, but it’s an activity rife with opportunity for talking.
On the one hand, it’s about expanding their vocabulary, which, in turn, helps with reading and writing. Children will be continuously learning new words as their play with Den Posts through instructions, descriptions and actions (such as weave, thread, loop, stack, shelter, safe, dry, warm, deadwood, design, construction, camouflage) and positional language such as on top/next to/underneath.
It’s essential to use and explore each of these terms and many more as they play, discuss their meanings and encourage children to try using them.
On the other hand, it’s about teaching children how to convey their thoughts and ideas through talking and describing. Language is used to solve problems.
Not only the words themselves, but also the way in which they are expressed. It’s so important to help children to develop their communication skills so that they can interact positively with others, express their own needs and ideas and theorise about the world they live in.
Den building is brilliant practice for this as children work and play together with adults and peers.
5. Role Play
Engaging in role play once the children have built their den. A den is the perfect place for young learners to try out role play, acting out and cementing their understanding of situations they have experienced in their own lives, or perhaps would like to experience if only they were real!
Your Wigwam can be transformed into all sorts of wonderful make-believe places, bringing children’s games to life through imaginary play.
Whether their den is a woodland cottage, a giant’s house on a cloud, a wizard’s lair, a queen’s castle, a trap for catching criminals, or simply a shop, a restaurant, or a hospital, through role play, children can learn how to approach scenarios from different viewpoints by taking on the role of different characters.
This helps to develop their social skills and empathetic understanding. When they get to take on the role of somebody else, they experiment with alternative behaviours, thoughts and feelings in a safe and accommodating environment. It’s really good for building self-confidence and self-awareness, too.
6. Independence and Self Esteem
Developing a “sense of self” is linked to time spent den building, has more recently been researched across the UK, America and Scandinavia in particular. Having the opportunity to be independent and to take a few risks is something that playing outdoors, building a den, is really all about.
From a child’s point of view, there is a such a sense of adventure to be gained from building and then hiding out in a den, experiencing independence away from the interfering eyes and ears of adults!
Encouraging and reinforcing their sense of self is a really important part of a child’s development. It is their chance to create a place that is special to them and allows them to express who they are. A secret den gives children privacy: their own hideaway to create in their style following their own rules.
Unknowingly, building a den either alone or with peers and playing in it in their own way is in part about a child learning how to challenge themselves, both physically and mentally, in preparation for the independence and some of the challenges that will lie ahead as they grow and become adults.
7. Growth Mindset
Achieving a Growth Mindset is incredibly important for those children who are often anxious and unwilling to try something new, fearful of somehow getting it “wrong” or not being able to do it.
It’s absorbing - and there are so many different ways of building a den that it really doesn’t matter. Children may not realise at first that they are learning new things, developing determination from making mistakes and rectifying them or finding alternative ways. If the roof falls off, for example, they pick it up and put it back on more carefully.
This is a significant life skill that is required in most elements of their education and something that you can always relate back to as an example with them, helping them to believe in themselves and persevere.
If you're interested in creating a playground that promotes den making, complete our Contact Form and we will be in touch to arrange a free consultation. You can also view our amazing range of Den Making Playground Equipment.