Outdoor learning: making a toy den

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about doing home learning with Sophie has been thinking of ways to take our learning outdoors as much as possible. One of Sophie’s home learning activities was to make a 3D shelter. This was a great activity to take outdoors, using the sticks that we’d collected as part of our winter activities a couple of months ago to make a little den for Sophie’s toys.


A toy den made of sticks with Playmobil 123 and Duplo figures inside - "Outdoor learning: Making a toy den"


First of all, Sophie had to decide where she wanted to make the den and what kind of structure she wanted. Did she want it to be free-standing in the middle of the garden, or leaning against the fence? Leaning against the fence would be slightly easier to make, but Sophie decided she’d prefer to make her den free-standing.


Three sticks tied together in a pyramid shape


She chose three sticks of similar length to start off her den. I helped start her off by standing them up in a pyramid shape and tying them together at the top with some long grass as this was the trickiest step. Once the first three sticks were in place, she was able to add more sticks by herself. Other than suggesting that Sophie left a gap for the entrance, I didn’t need to offer any more help.


Sophie adding sticks to her mini den


The den soon started to take shape as more and more sticks were added. Sophie made a little stepping-stone path leading up to the entrance. There was a mini campfire off to one side, with a leaf roasting on a stick. She also placed rolled up leaves inside the den to make sleeping bags. It was lovely to listen to her chatting about what she was adding and why.


Sophie putting stones in front of the den to make a path


Once Sophie had added all her sticks, she finished off the den by covering it in dock leaves. It was the perfect size for the Duplo and Playmobil 123 figures and great for a little small world play.


Sophie with her mini toy den made from sticks and covered in leaves with Duplo and Playmobil 123 figures inside


It’s also lasted quite well in the garden in spite of a little brother running around everywhere. Thomas has taken a closer look a couple of times. He hasn’t yet knocked it over while exploring the garden though, much to Sophie’s relief. At some point, I’ll have a go at making a bigger version and creating another tepee in our garden for the children to enjoy.


A toy den made of sticks with Playmobil 123 and Duplo figures inside


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4 thoughts on “Outdoor learning: making a toy den

  1. What a fun idea. Sophie did really well.
    I think I might get my youngest to try making a den for her toys out in the garden. It’s the type of thing she’d love x

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