While on our camping trip with another family, we stayed on a stunningly spacious farm that held a few, magnificent pine forests. As soon as we drove past a long lines of tall, sturdy trees I knew I was going to ask the kids if they’d like to build a nature shelter under its magical canopy. Not only was it going to connecting us with nature while on our holiday but I liked the idea of giving my children a gentle introduction to nature survival skills for, just in case.
The children (six of them) didn’t need much encouragement. They were bursting with excitement as soon as I asked them!
Before heading off toward the pine forest, we had a quick chat about snake safety. There’s been quite a few snake sightings on the property and although I never let the what ifs rule my life, educating kids about safety in any forest is important.
Before starting to build a shelter, ask these questions:
- Look at the terrain – is it safe to build a shelter?
- Where would the best place be to set up a shelter?
- What could we use to make a shelter?
- Is there enough materials to cover the shelter?
- Is there a sturdy branch to make sure the shelter will stay up and be safe to play/ sleep in?
We stared collecting materials for the shelter. The bigger children collected long sticks and the smaller children collected pine cones. We made a shelter against one of the big pine trees first but then one of the boys pointed out a better location, so we moved it over.
The area was safer because we could create a solid foundation adding some big sticks to the branches that were already there. We built the nature hut up with a lot of big, long sticks and then covered it in smaller sticks, pine cones and a few leaves. Then, we weaved long grasses through sticks.
I’m hoping that the nature hut will remain a place that’s visited regularly by the children who made it and that it will hold memories of working in the forest, as a team to build something magical and spectacular.
I found two websites that I’ll be using in future, should we make another shelter or add on to this one. Nature Skills has some excellent tips to help you make a shelter for survival and Wilderness Survival gives you some fantastic ways to build different types of shelters in nature. I loved reading these articles and I’m now really excited about creating another one!
This shelter may not be water proof or keep us safe from the elements as yet, but I hope that one day this group of children will go back and finish it off to a point where they could all sleep in there one night. What an exhilarating experience to really sleep in your very own nature shelter!
Have you made a nature shelter with your kids?