Making a den – and playing in it – is a favourite activity for children of all ages. Dens are really easy to make with things you have at home.

Why are dens so much fun?

Children enjoy small spaces they can hide in and where they can create their own little worlds. Dens give a feeling of cosiness and can be a lovely place for you to snuggle up with your child. They can be helpful places for your child to relax and have a bit of downtime.

Things your child can use to make a den

Your child can make a den with all sorts of things:

  • chairs and tables with sheets or blankets draped over them
  • cardboard boxes (sometimes supermarkets and other shops will let you take them away)
  • clothes driers, pegs and sheets
  • washing lines, pegs, tablecloths and shower curtains
  • bamboo canes, brooms and brushes with long handles (to make a frame)
  • golf umbrellas and cushions.

Your child might need your help finding things they can use to make a den. They might want you to help them make it but try and let them do as much as possible themselves – they will learn more that way.

Things your child can add to their den

Here are some things that can be used to decorate or add to a den:

  • piles of cushions and pillows
  • fairy lights
  • flags, tea towels and scarves
  • shoe boxes
  • a picnic table and camping stools
  • things from the kitchen like pots and pans
  • teddy bears, other soft toys and dolls.

Things your child can do in their den

Your child will probably have plenty of ideas for playing in their den. In your child’s imagination it could be almost anything – for example:

  • a hiding place
  • a base camp
  • a shop
  • a magic cave
  • a rabbit’s burrow
  • a dungeon.

Making the den might be what interests your child the most. Don’t worry if they lose interest after they’ve made it, or if they take it apart.

Joining your child in their den

If your child invites you to come into their den to play, you can follow their lead, but try not to take over. They might like you to join them for a snack or tell stories. Or they might just want you to visit, admire their den and then leave them to it.

Making a den outside

Dens are great fun to play in outside. A space in a bush or under a hedge can easily make a den. Or your child can make a den outside using a lot of the same things they would use inside. Sturdier materials like waterproof cloth or groundsheets can be good outside, too.