Nursery World Feature – Den building

Children at Stramash Outdoor Nursery Elgin, which is one of a chain of four social enterprise nurseries in North-East Scotland, are not strangers to the art of den-building and creating secret hideaways. In fact, since moving to their new site earlier this year, they, together with staff, have transformed a one-acre open field into a space that houses dens for all occasions.

The temporary structures include ‘the cave’, which started off as a chicken coop but was so popular that the children reconfigured the wooden pallets and moved it to space near the mud kitchen. Another favourite is the giant nest, which was created out of fallen branches from the adjoining woodland, and was such an inviting area that it was used for daily circle time.

‘All the structures on the site – the washing area, the cloakroom, the nappy changing area, the rest area – are made by us with wooden pallets and tarpaulin for shelter,’ explains team leader Alastair Davidson. ‘The children are involved in daily safety checks and help us sand down wood, repair broken pieces of pallet and use the tools like hand saws to make new structures. It’s second nature to them and they often initiate new ideas for temporary dens based on their interests.’

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