Den-making is big in – you guessed it – Scandinavia, where it is an integral part of the forest school experience. Time spent building a den gives children a glimpse of independence, a chance to create a space away from the prying eyes of over-protective parents that is all theirs. A kingdom of their own, where they can be king or queen.
And yet it is a dying art – something many of us parents will remember from our own childhoods but is curiously absent from our children’s. Busy lives, smaller homes and gardens, fears and anxieties around safety – all these things contribute to a decline in the opportunities for and the inclination to build dens.
The good news is it’s never too late to start den building and you don’t always need to be in the woods.
By far the simplest and most accessible way to make a first den is with a washing line and a sheet. Simply drape a sheet over a washing line. Pull the two flaps out to the side in order to create room inside and weigh down the corners with books or large stones so that it keeps its shape.
For a more spacious construction, try running two washing lines in parallel, a few feet apart and hanging the sheet over both. On a still day, with this type of tent you won’t even need to secure the corners as the sides will hang straight down.
Add rugs, blankets and cushions for extra comfort and don’t forget stock up on books, toys and rations!