Den Building

Creating imaginative spaces using almost anything

By: Jane Hewitt , Cathy Cross


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 200 x 140mm
Pages : 144
ISBN : 9781845909529
Format: Paperback
Published: November 2015

Every child needs a special space of their own where they can let their imagination run wild. When you become a den builder, the most ordinary of spaces can become a magical, secret world. A den, or a fort, is a special space that you create for yourself, a space where you can use your imagination, a space where you can play, or read, just chill out or be creative.

In Den Building, Jane Hewitt and Cathy Cross show you how, with just a few household objects and these imaginative ideas, you can make hundreds of wonderful dens, with minimal mess and fuss. Using found items, creativity and imagination you can transform any space into a completely new environment. There are plenty of rainy-day activities and ideas for getting outside in the fresh air. Complete with hints and tips on finding materials, building and decorating dens, these brilliant ideas will keep children busy for hours – and adults are very welcome to join in the fun too. How many different things can you make with a cardboard box? How can a simple table be transformed into a spooky Halloween lair or a Viking ship? How much fun can you have with an old parachute? How do you make a miniature town from old packaging? Discover the magic in everyday objects and get den building!

Suitable for all children who like making things and creative play, Den Building is a great gift and also makes a great resource for organised groups, such as nurseries, Scouts and Guides and afterschool clubs.

Picture for author Jane Hewitt

Jane Hewitt

Jane Hewitt taught mainly at secondary level for 30 years. Jane still loves learning, discovering new ideas and photography and is rarely found without a camera around her neck!

Click here to try out Jane's Collage Challenge.

Visit Jane's photography Website here or her Den Building site here.

Picture for author Cathy Cross

Cathy Cross

Cathy Cross trained in theatre design and has spent over 20 years working in community theatre and education. Over the last few years Cathy has combined the breadth of her experience to inform her role as a change maker, creativity consultant and professional den maker!


  1. I make a den to raise money for Save the Children every year so I wanted some new ideas for 2017. This book is awesome! It has so many ideas and a lot that you can make with things you have at home! My brother and I made a rocket den with the boxes we had from moving house last week. It was great fun!!

    You get loads of instructions and pictures to help you. My dad even took the book off me to read as he wanted to see what he could build!

    I love this book!

    Click here to visit the Toppsta website.
  2. Some very cool, new, imaginative and creative ideas for building dens. Great to have top tips to make sure we're safe when building. Thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with friends.

    Click here to visit the Toppsta website.
  3. The cover didn't enthuse my two sons' interest but I took it camping with us and they enjoyed the ideas it gave them while out and about.

    Click here to visit the Toppsta website.
  4. Couldn't wait to sit down with my boys and share this fantastic book. The perfect size for slipping in a backpack when camping or going walking in the woods, the book has beautifully clear photographs showing ideas for using different materials to make dens with. As soon as we had finished looking through the pages the boys were suitably inspired to go off and collect materials to make their own dens. It had plenty of inspiration and easy-to-read tips on how to get the best out of your materials. I can see us using this book a lot outdoors once winter is out of the way. We highly recommend it.

    Click here to visit the Toppsta website.
  5. What a fabulous resource this is! Giving tons of inspiration and ideas for den building - and with 27 projects to choose from - there is something here for everyone, from the total beginner to the more experienced builder. Everyone knows you can make a den with a table but we also have loads of ideas for boxes, hula hoops, mini dens and even umbrellas. If you're feeling particularly ambitious there's even an igloo affair made from empty milk bottles. Great for parents but also perfect for scout/guide groups, schools, clubs. A brilliant addition to the bookshelf!

    Click here to visit the Toppsta website.
  6. I read the book with my daughter Gracie and my son Bobby. This book was absolutely fantastic and led to hours of creative play and imaginative fun. The book is great because unlike a lot of other children's books, it is designed in a much more unique and relatable way, using photographs rather than just illustrations or cartoon style drawings. This brought the book to life and enabled the kids to get a real feel for ways in which they could go on and put together their own dens.

    As a parent, it can often be quite challenging or tiresome to think of creative ideas for your children. This has been a massive help as it is jam-packed full of really great ideas and is a fantastic source of inspiration. There are so many different concepts for hiding spots and dens that we had never even considered - such as Gracie's favourite, the pom pom den, and Bobby's favourite, the spy den. 

    What we love most about the book is that my kids or myself can easily pick this book up, flip to any page and have a great idea or concept to then work on. It has helped massively boost Gracie's imagination and creativity. Since we have been reading the book, she is regularly coming up with lots of her own ideas for dens or creating fun spaces where she can then enjoy role play. This has been lovely to see and has made me feel really impressed and proud. 

    The book works really well because it is bold, bright and colourful, the images and different types of texts and fonts make it accessible and far from boring, and there is always something that jumps out and grabs your attention. It isn't just a how-to book setting out a tutorial of how to create a certain thing, moreso it is the foundation for sparking imagination, creativity and exploration for children and I just really love it!

    All in all, I would say that this book is fabulous for enabling kids' (and adults') imaginations to run wild, it is great for sparking creative thought and for inspiring you to get making fun dens. I can see this being a staple on our family bookshelf for many years to come! 

    Click here to visit the Toppsta website.
  7. What a fantastic book full of ideas for building dens. Everyone knows how to make a den using tables and chairs but this book gives you the opportunity to build even bigger and better dens using a variety of materials. From the beginner to the most experienced of den builders there is something in this book for everyone. Both my nine-year-old son and four-year-old daughter made a few of the dens and had fun doing it. Would definitely recommend this book. Kept the children and adults alike entertained for hours.

    Click here to visit the Toppsta website.
  8. We had great fun building dens over the weekend after getting inspiration from reading this book.

    Full of lots of ideas that can be made into your own dens, with lots of lovely colourful pictures. Can't wait to use some of them in the garden once the weather is nicer.

    Click here to visit the Toppsta website.
  9. This is a fabulous little handbook to den building. We are already enthusiastic den/tent makers in our house (our dining room chairs are currently the base for a blanket tent) and this book is very useful for coming up with lots of ideas for more ambitious projects using household items. None of the ideas seem to have any great cost to them and rather than a how-to guide it really is a basis for coming up with your own ideas. We especially loved the idea of mini-dens and have made my little girl's teddy a den out of a shoe box already. You might think that you don't really need a book to tell you how to do something that kids have been doing for years but it really is great for lots of fun ideas and for encouraging them to think about what they like. Highly recommended for kids of all ages.

    Click here to visit the Toppsta website.
  10. Here is a truly exciting and comprehensive book about building all kinds of den. These authors think of a den as -˜a space where you and your friends can play and be creative'. The book is organised in five sections: Cardboard Box Dens; Table Dens; Indoor Dens; Outdoor Dens and (tantalisingly) Extreme Dens.

    The written text lists the easily accessible resources and then gives practical guidance for the actual building of each den. The -˜top tips' on each spread are helpful too. I like the way these authors address young readers directly. For example, after instructions to make a simple shop out of a large cardboard box, young readers are asked: -˜Does your shop have a name? How would you decorate it?' So thinking and imagining are encouraged. The tone of the writing is conversational but also gives good reinforcement of procedural language in context: paragraph starters include -˜set up', -˜once you have' and -˜next'. The book is alive with colourful photographs, many giving inspiration by showing children building dens or enjoying them with friends when completed. There is a Dr Who Tardis den and young Harry is pictured in the Tank den he has made of cardboard boxes painted in camouflage colours. The White den, one of the -˜table' dens, has lots of silver and white objects and white fairy lights - it's ideal for chatting with friends or reading books together. Now - just in case you are still wondering what -˜extreme dens' might be like - towards the end of the book are pictures of the hugely imaginative creations of the authors:dens with wonderful shapes and colours, made of interesting materials and often atmospherically lit so they look mysterious and sometimes almost ethereal.

    Many of the dens would be a good focus for play dates. I particularly like the Sleepover den for a friends' -˜sweetcorn and movie' evening. The book would also be a good resource for teachers of young children who might particularly like the ideas for Outdoor dens and Miniature dens. Over 5s, with a little adult support, would be able to bring their own ideas to the creation of their den and to related drama and writing.
  11. Irresistible, sumptuous, winsome and wow! Just some of the words that pop to mind as you casually flick through this enticing [there's another one!] photo-illustrated book all about den building. If you do not want to go away and create a den of your very own after reading this gem of an A5-sized portable pocket book, I will eat my hat, as they say! This book is just about perfect for everyone - it has accessible, minimal text, along with quality ideas that have been tried and tested and are not expensive or requiring mountains of resources -¦ dip in -¦ get ideas -¦ be inspired to come up with your own ... enjoy creating a special place. I know it is a little early for this, and forgive me if I recommend more in the course of the year, but it has to be my -˜must have book of 2016'!
  12. Den Building is a wonderful book that encourages children to play freely and realise their own ideas. The easy to get hold of materials invite imagination into the building of dens and also in the play that follows inside them. I love that every den is such a sensory journey; the textures, the lighting, the need to lie down or crawl into it. In an overly screen-filled childhood there is such a need for these unstructured sensory experiences.

    I love the hugeness of some of the dens too. Kids love to create something that they can get inside of. This book opens up ways in which every child can really have a hand in creating a space that fulfills their deepest, and sometimes untouched, needs. It lists simple ways to change the space around them on a scale not usually embarked upon. The ability to create or change things that are physically bigger than themselves seems to me an important thing to learn in childhood and take forward into adult life.

    My favourites are the nature dens. The engagement in nature that outdoor, natural den making brings is to be celebrated: strengthening a connection with the natural world, while developing hands-on, practical and rational skills - tying knots, weighting canopies, assessing the strength of a branch. These are important skills and require age appropriate risk taking that is necessary for negotiating the world around us. This book encourages that rational thinking seamlessly through play. The esteem and confidence gained in having made these decisions will without doubt create a strengthened sense of self.

    A must for homes and classrooms. With an abundance of great photos, this book is easy to dip into and will always spark ideas. Let's get den building!
  13. A sumptuous book, oozing with imaginative ideas and inspiration for den building for humans of all ages. For children this book is accessible and simple, clearly explaining materials required and with plenty of photographs demonstrating limitless possibilities. For adults, the book will ignite a creative spark and remind you of times spent under the table or crouched within a washing maiden using clothes pegs and sheets to create fantastical hidden worlds.

    I urge you to grasp the spark and embark once again on some den building. You will love it, your children will love it and who knows where it could lead -¦ Adventure awaits!
  14. Den Building is not just a how-to book, not just a set of projects for a rainy day; it's a starting place for a lifetime of exploration and ideas, creativity and fun.

    The book contains everything from the simplest pillow fort, to elaborate villages of interconnected creations. Project books for children usually require a shopping list of things before you can start, but there will be something you can make today out of the things you have lying about. If its 9am, and raining, and the kids are already running in circles screaming, there is something in this book that they can put that energy into, and make somewhere magical to spend the day.

    The most impressive effect of Den Building is that you and your children will never see your house in the same way again. Every nook will become a den, every bit of recycling a possible window or chimney or robot rocket ship. The only danger I can see is that you all become addicted to dens, and when people call round they have to search for you in a house full of tents and igloos and giggling, shaking cardboard boxes!

    I love that it is something that needs you all to do it together. The children need help with construction, but the adults need ideas and stories for what's happening inside. It's truly a joint effort, which is always a hard balance to strike.

    I also love that it gives you all permission to make a mess. In a world where grown-ups are always tidying, and moaning about mess, it's liberating to show children that you enjoy chopping up cardboard and collecting pine cones. It also gives them a cracking incentive to help put it all away at the end, because then the space is ready for the next den!

    I am definitely going to be making some dens in the future. I think I may need to visit a pound shop. And have a look in the loft ...
  15. Den Building by Jane Hewitt and Cathy Cross is the book every child who loves to make-believe needs. Whether building a den for their toys or making an extreme den out in the woods, this book covers it all. Aimed at kids, Den Building has clear photos, easy to understand guides on materials and resources to use and re-use, instructions on how to create interesting structures, plus exciting ideas for decoration and customisation.

    Having read the book it is clear that there is not enough den building going on in my world; there are so many den ideas that look so much fun to create. Using anything and everything, from the table, the washing line, umbrellas, the trampoline and, of course, every den maker's favourite - the humble cardboard box, this book takes den making to another level. Indoors or outdoors, you can make everything from rockets, volcanoes, fashion dens, nature dens, tanks and so much more. Covering dens built just for the afternoon to ones that you will want to keep for weeks, Den Building is a creative guide which will inspire kids - from babies to teenagers - to create magical hideaways; great places to let their imaginations run wild and play in for hours, either alone or with friends.
  16. This is a child-centred book about making dens and having fun whilst doing it. I love the way it is written specifically for children, young people and the young at heart! My favourite dens were the open box with the heads through the holes (genius - and very funny), the dens without walls and all the references to reading and how much fun it is. I really liked that it was easy to find the resources to make the dens, my boys liked the spy den, duvet den and, of course, the wearable den.  

    In summary this is book is fun, easy to use, brilliantly enhanced by the pictures and it is very clear Jane and Cathy understand how kids' imaginations work.
  17. I really love this book! It's fun to read for children and adults.  It's colourful, it has a great layout and most importantly inspires you to make. I have amazingly happy memories making as a child, sometimes it was dens in the garden, on rainy days miniature cardboard dens in my bedroom which evolved into half den half sculpture as I grew in size and mind.

    Den making is an important part of any kid's childhood, done alone, with friends or as part of a school activity. This book is such a wonderful example of how free materials around us can be used and how other resources can be either recycled or given a new life. The fun vibrant photographs and text help to walk you through each step of den making and gives you the confidence to go on and build independently. 

    What I also love about this book is it encourages children to record their ideas, to keep sketch books, draw, write and develop their own designs. These are such important skills that can be used in everyday life and even possible future careers!  It's inspiring and motivating! And as quoted in the book by a famous creative -˜If you dream it, you can do it'
  18. This is a truly wonderful book of creative ideas on den building, which can only bring magic to any child's life! Jam-packed full of practical advice and inspiration, Den Building is a must-read for any child, parent or teaching professional and just goes to show that with a little thought, a little love and a little imagination, anyone can create the most exciting and brilliant spaces.

    I have a sneaky feeling that children won't be the only ones to benefit from this book either. After all, who doesn't need their own magical creative space to hide out in? Now then, where on earth did I put that cardboard box ...?!

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