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Shelter Building

Learning Objectives


  • Make structures with the knowledge of knowing how to support and reinforce them
  • Understand that natural materials have different properties & uses
  • Use persuasive language to promote their shelter
  • Work with others to meet a challenge


  • Learn safely in a new environment
  • Gain an appreciation of the environment and understand their role in caring for it
  • Solve problems in unfamiliar environments

½ Day Course Programme

Classes will then separate and sessions A and B will be interchangeable am and pm with session A generally led by the centre teacher.

Centre staff will welcome your group and describe the day’s programme, learning objectives, and the health and safety issues. (10 mins)


Can be led by centre teacher or by visiting teacher.

  • Walk to shelter building area, behind the activity room (5 mins)
  • Discussion of safety issues and planning a shelter. (10 mins)
  • In groups of 5/6 pupils work together constructing shelters (40-60 mins)
  • Once completed groups view all of the shelters before safely dismantling.
  • Each shelter must be big enough for the whole group, be windproof (survive the shake test) and be waterproof which involves throwing water on to the shelter (with the group inside) to establish its effectiveness! (15 mins)
  • The shelters must be then taken down, piece by piece carefully. Last items on the shelter first to come off! (10 mins)
  • Return to the Centre. (5 mins)

Detailed activity sheets can be found in the Problem Solving and Adventurous Activities at the Environmental Education Day Centres curriculum material pages 25 and 26 for groups self leading shelter building sessions. Copies available at the centre.


Back at the Centre the group will reflect on their day and consider how well the learning objectives have been met (5 – 10 mins).

Safety Considerations

Weather Conditions and clothing

Some outdoor clothing and footwear is available at the Centre but please ensure that children are dressed warmly and have suitable waterproof outerwear. Activities will take place in all but the most severe weather conditions. The centre teacher will contact the group leader if conditions are unsafe for the visit to continue. Gloves are required to protect hands during shelter building.

Equipment supplied

First aid kit, bucket of water, gloves and visual aids of shelters around the world.

Equipment needed from school

Gloves and Wellies

Other Information

The actual programme may vary depending on the number and needs of pupils, length of visit and weather conditions.



Time limits can be imposed, use of only freestanding structures, not using bracken


Rope supplied, designated places to build, adult with each group