How can den building activities support children’s development?
On the 17th of June 2016, children across the country took part in a den building day to raise money for charity. Save the Children held the campaign to raise awareness for children around the world who lack vital resources such as water and shelter. This also gave children the opportunity to take part and build on their development through imaginative play.
Den building offers a range of advantages to children of all ages, from physical development to problem solving skills. Children are able to build on their learning by thinking creatively and putting their ideas into reality. Creating dens will give children the opportunity to think outside of the box and problem solve in order to create a structure. Children will also develop communication and language skills as they work as a team to create their den. They will need to take turns in a conversation, explain their ideas and negotiate with others.
Building dens enable children to develop and strengthen their creative skills, deciding on not only structure but appearance too. Children should be offered a range of materials and tools to support their decision making and creative thinking. This activity enables children the space and time to create something individual to themselves and spark their imagination. Resources such as blankets, sheets, wooden pegs, boxes or ribbon can be used to create dens. Building activities will support gross and fine motor skills, whilst developing good hand-eye coordination.
Imaginative play is central to children’s development, enabling them to develop an understanding of the world around them. Children are able to build scenarios or stories around their dens, creating characters and plots to support their play. Imaginative play enables children to rein-act past events or create new ones. Children may use familiar characters in their play such as parents, friends or characters from their favourite stories or television programmes. This allows them to test boundaries and experiment with behaviour and feelings, without direct consequences.
Den building also supports children’s independent learning skills. Children are able to take on a task and work alone to create a den without the guidance or influence of a practitioner. The activity can be taken outside to allow more space and opportunities for the child to extend the den. The practitioner should enable the child to be in charge of directing the play, only offering support or guidance when requested.
Den building is a great way to encourage a child’s holistic development, physically, mentally and socially. Children are able to make this activity their own accomplishment, with little direction from an adult. Can you support den building in your setting?