How to Make the Perfect Den

Today I am delighted to be sharing with you how to make the perfect Den. This post is in celebration of A Year of Nature Craft and Play (Harper Collins). A brand new book by gardening expert Catherine Hughes and well-being author Becky Goddard-Hill (who I am delighted to call a friend).  In it, they share a host of nature craft and play ideas following the seasons. They also include nature-based science experiments and gardening projects as well as exploration and mindfulness activities.

Young boy cutting branches with a hand saw in front of a tent structure made from twigs, branches and leaves

Today they are sharing with us one of their favourite nature play ideas and one all children love … how to make the perfect den!  I also want to share with you den making is not just for kids.  My eldest’s girlfriend is in the cadets before transitioning to the Navy and they had to go and build a forest den as a project last week as a precursor to building a more secure shelter in the woods.  Not only did she love it she actually wanted to do it again!

Two children laid on the ground , one with a stick under a tent made of sticks like a den

How to make the perfect den

The truth is there is no perfect den, just the fabulous den you are going to build. A den can be as simple or as complicated and as big or as small as you like. You might want to check out the sort of wild animals that make dens as shelters like a foxes den and also the places they make them. Den making really is a great way to get outside into nature not matter what the weather.

You might want to make one to last the whole school holidays or you might one to make one that lasts just a day. 

It’s totally up to you.

You will need

  • Lots of strong straight sticks or fallen branches
  • A tree!
  • Blankets and fairy lights and a flask of hot chocolate (all optional – but nice!) 
  • Leaves, mud and moss
  • String, tine or even a saw (but adult supervision is required)

How to make a den

  1. Simply find 2 trees close enough together and use  thick long stick sticks between them to make a roof,  Or find a tree with a low branch and that can be your main roof beam.
  2. Make sure the ground underneath is flat and clear of stones.
  3. Then, build up the sides using fallen branches/sticks diagonally to make a tent shape.
  4. If you want to make it stronger and waterproof you can slot bendy sticks horizontally in and out of the standing up ones and then cover the whole tent with leaves and other bits and bobs to camouflage it and maybe even use mud in between the branches to seal it.
  5. You can use leaves to make a soft floor or pop a sleeping bag or blanket inside, so it is soft to sit in. 
  6. You could even string up some fairy lights and you might even like to decorate it even more with a flag or a sign?

What could you use your den for? Storytelling? A sleepover? A Reading nook? Perhaps even a crafting space?

Den building is great fun to do with friends. 

Top tip – use a compass to find out which way is south and make sure your doorway faces that way, so you get lots of sunshine and warmth flooding into your den. 

A soft toy fox in a miniature den made of pine twigs

If you are short of time you might want to make a teeny tiny mini den for a small animal to use or to pop a soft toy in 

This post contains affiliate links. If you make any purchases after clicking one of these links, I will make a small commission (hopefully enough to keep me in tea all year) – at no extra cost to you! This allows me to keep creating and sharing free tutorials and content for you. Thank you!

You can purchase A Year of Nature Craft and Play from Amazon and all good bookshops. I am a big fan of Becky’s previous books and her kindness Book inspired our acts of kindness for lockdown.