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Shelter Building

Learning outcomes

Most pupils will understand/be able to:

  • How to prepare for an outdoor activity
  • The need for safe and sensible behaviour
  • Listen to others
  • Co-operate with others
  • Encourage each other
  • Understand that listening, co-operating and encouraging are important during group activities
  • Recognise the elements of design

Some pupils will have the opportunity to:

  • Recognise the importance of effective teamwork and how it can be applied elsewhere
  • Recognise the contribution made by themselves and others during the activity
  • Describe other elements of design and suggest other ways of doing things

Key words/phrases

Aesthetic, Design, Co-operation, Determination, Encouragement, Involvement, Participation, Perseverance, Safety, Shelter, Teamwork, Timber, Woodland.

Curriculum links

Design and technology

Plan and organise activities; respond creatively to briefs, developing proposals


Writing that makes cross- curricular links; accounts, plans


Work in groups, different roles and responsibilities


Half day activity (not in darkness)


Woodlands at Hagg Farm.


Session can be led by visiting teaching staff.

Supporting materials

Shelter building briefing sheet.

Health and safety

Appropriate clothing, boots and work gloves required. Safety sack (with first aid kit, emergency shelter etc), and checks personal medication (inhalers etc). It is essential that teachers are aware of the Codes of Practice safety note on use of solid timbers, checking structures (e.g. firm supporting logs) and good supervision. Care in selecting and handling materials/timbers. No sleeping in shelters: tarpaulins are available for woodland bivouacs. Risk assessment no. 16. Pupil ratio 1:20.

Activity session

  • Indoor briefing on aims, activity and health and safety (as above), especially handling timber/branches in a woodland and building safe structures.
  • Discussion of environmental issues, following the Country Code, the use only of fallen natural materials and avoiding damage to living plants and trees.
  • Discussion and ideas for shelters: planning and sketch of designs in small groups.
  • Emphasis on the need for teamwork, involvement and leadership.
  • Outside: students, in small groups, choose a site to construct shelter and assess how to implement their plans.
  • Continuous assessment of safety and suitability of all structures: is each stable/safe, appropriate size, aesthetic and effective as a shelter?
  • Look for continuous encouragement, discussion, teamwork and involvement of all.
  • At end of activity collect any litter and demolish shelters ready for next group.


(at Hagg Farm if cold/wet)

  • Have learning outcomes, above, been met? Did the team work well together?
  • A range of reviewing techniques with students using writing, speaking skills and creativity to express feelings about activity, performance, involvement, teamwork.
  • Short presentations by each group: name of shelter? Advantages and disadvantages? Can the group sell their shelter like an estate agent?!
  • Record shelter/activity with camera, artwork or writing; use as stimulus for art.
  • Teacher feedback on shelter quality: points awarded? Best shelter award?