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Building Dens – Tips for Parents

29/08/2013 | Fun, Room to Grow | by Catherine Godiva

Building dens can be great fun, both for kids and for parents – it’s an important part of childhood.  However, kids these days are not given the freedom that kids had years ago and building a den is a part of childhood that many kids are missing out on.  We all want to do the right thing and ensure the safety of our kids, it’s not appropriate these days for kids to be running around unsupervised, coming home at bedtime.  Life just isn’t like that any more – kids these days don’t go out to play in the way in which they used to.

However, just because you want to keep your kids safe, doesn’t mean that they can’t have the types of fun and adventures that are necessary to boost their self confidence, enhance their problem solving skills and just ‘feel’ the freedom of being a kid.  There are all sorts of ways of making sure that your kids have the space and time to build dens, you just have to be creative about it these days.  You can’t send the kids out instructing them to get out from under your feet and come back at tea time – it’s just not de rigueur in these days of perfect parenting.  This means that you’ll need to let them do their den building in the house or garden. 

Indoor Den

For an indoor den in the house, huge cardboard boxes are great for construction.  They can be cut, glued and stapled to make a den.  Using cardboard means that the kids can decorate it in any way they wish – it can be drawn or painted on in so many ways.  If you don’t fancy the idea of paint everywhere, crayons or felt pens can work just as well for drawing on the details.  A cardboard den may be an eyesore in the corner of your child’s room, but it won’t last forever and will provide hours of fun for little ones so it’s well worth putting up with.  This den can be flexible in purpose – a clubhouse for a few kids to play in or a private place for a child to chill out now and again.

Outdoor Den

If you have a garden, then letting your kids make a den outside will get them out in the fresh air and having fun cooperating as they build.  A shed can make a great place for a den, but not everybody has a shed to spare.  If you want the kids to have a permanent den, then consider helping them to make something in a corner of the garden that you don’t mind being a bit raggedy and wild.  Some pallets and pieces of ply would make a great start, but you’ll probably need to supervise some of the building work!  If it’s a temporary den, then give the kids some large pieces of fabric (old double sheets work great) that they can drape over the clothesline into a tent type structure.  If you let the kids draw or paint on the sheets, then they can be stowed away at end of play and used again and again for a perfectly modern pop up style den.

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