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A young girl in a pink dress peeking out of a den made from a white bedsheet.

How to Build a Den for Kids

Den building in the park is a brilliant activity for kids who with a passion for making things – or breaking them, since park dens are strictly temporary. They can play architects, play for hours, then go full Godzilla at the end of the day.

Not much is needed for this: your kids can build a den in the park from spare bed linen and whatever they can find around them. And don’t worry about your sheets getting grubby – it’s nothing that Persil can’t handle. Here’s how to build a den for kids.

What you need to build a den:

There’s no epic list of equipment to haul in for den building. You can find most of the materials for your den by foraging in the park:

  • Fallen branches 
  • Bracken, ferns, leaves and any foliage from the park and woodland 
  • Spare sheets, plus a plastic ground sheet (ideal, but not strictly needed) 
  • Several enthusiastic kids 
  • Snacks and drinks for when the den is built!

Since dens do have a tendency to fall down (particularly when there ate boisterous kids inside) try to avoid using anything too heavy in the building process.

There are extra things you can bring that can help with den building for kids, like string, clothing pegs, or rags to secure branches. Props like flags and bright cloth are also fun. Just ask your little construction crew to remember the Golden Rule of playing in nature – do no harm to the site, and leave nothing behind to baffle the resident wildlife.

How to build a den:

Once you have your building materials, it’s time to start making your den.

  1. Arrange the biggest branches first to create a shelter structure 
  2. Build up the ‘walls’ with smaller branches, and foliage 
  3. Check the finished den before the kids go inside, just to make sure it’s sturdy enough
  4. Line with a plastic groundsheet if you have one 
  5. Finally, accept that you’re going to be banned from the den as soon as it’s completed, as there’s usually a ‘kids only’ rule!

When you’ve finished the secret den, it can be a military fort, a burrow, a rebel hideout, or a forest palace – the possibilities are endless.

When the time comes to leave, make sure that everything is cleared away and the site looks the same as it did when you arrived: ready for you and your kids to come back and play another day.

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