We connected the shapes together, starting with smaller groups and children making their own tents until they realised they could keep joining them and make something bigger and bigger.
The initial triangle shapes made the structure strong. Using a big box of fabrics, we pegged them on to make the structure more enclosed.
A story began to emerge and the children came to and from the tent all afternoon.
We revisited the tents the following week. They had been played with since the last session and had changed shapes. Jane worked alongside a nursery practitioner and together they followed the children’s stories and imaginations.
Inside the tent, children began to make rules and all the children that came in, listened to each other. No one claimed ownership of the tent, they shared and negotiated.
Some of the children began to decorate the tent and sticks.
‘This is a ruler’ said one, making lines spaced out along a stick.
Some fabrics were used to define spaces and the see-through fabrics became windows.
We introduce a different den-building method using heavy bases on the floor each holding sticks. The children decided where the sticks were to be placed. We hung string between the sticks and began to enclose a new space, making a kind of washing line.
The sticks had holes in them that the children noticed after a while of playing. One small boy spent a long time threading wires and beads into the small holes.
Others played with a big box of pegs, using virtually every peg, hanging them on the string. Through this play a number of children learnt how to use a peg either by themselves or by being shown. By trial and error, they worked out they had to squeeze and capture the string inside the peg before letting go.
Even though the space was very open, the children still used their imaginations to turn it into their own space inside of the sticks and string.