How To Build A Shelter With Natural Resources

There’s no better way for a child to explore than in nature. Nature is the world’s best teacher, providing children (and sometimes even adults) with invaluable knowledge that cannot be taught at home or in a classroom. 

Have you ever wondered how to build a shelter with natural resources and the benefits of doing this for kids?

When amongst the trees, in a forest, by a river, on a beach, or on a hike, children can make lifelong memories through using their imagination, playing with the world’s biggest playground, and learning about priceless survival skills. 

how to build a shelter with natural resources

One of the best things you can do with your children is to make a shelter out of natural resources. Whether you’re camping in the woods or simply going for an afternoon walk in a nature reserve, building a shelter is a bonding experience that gets everyone involved.

Plus, you can use the shelter however you like, such as eating a picnic or telling stories. 

Here is our guide on how to build a shelter with natural resources! 

What To Consider When Looking How To Build A Shelter With Natural Resources

As fun as it is to let your kids run wild in the woods or your backyard to create whatever shelter they like, you’ve got to think about their safety. You don’t want to try and make lifelong memories with negative connotations because your child twisted their ankle or the shelter collapsed. 

  • Firstly, know the area. Make sure the woodlands are safe from people with less pure intentions, as well as animals such as snakes that can bite. Plus, keep away from potentially poisonous berries and plants that your little one might grab. 
  • Is the terrain flat enough to provide a sturdy base for the shelter?
  • Are there enough natural resources in the surrounding area to build an adequately-sized and safe shelter? 
  • Will you be bringing your own materials to add to the shelter, such as blankets, rope, or tape? 
  • Is there a big enough branch to act as the main structure of the shelter?
  • Are your kids properly dressed and have you bought spare clothing just in case of an accident?

How To Build A Shelter Of Natural Resources? 

Find Suitable Terrain

To pick the perfect area to build a shelter with natural resources, it’s best to opt for flat terrain. Make sure to clear the floor from anything that will disrupt the flatness of the surface, such as branches and rocks.

It’s best to look for a tree that the shelter can be structured around for extra sturdiness. This is optional, however, if you’d prefer to make a free-standing shelter. 

Source The Natural Materials

Now for arguably the most fun part, look for materials in the area to make the shelter! If there’s more than one child in your group, assign them all a task, such as collecting branches of varying sizes and decorative items like pine cones and pretty leaves.  

You might have to help your kids carry large branches, or you can assign that task to the bigger kids. Ideally, you’ll allow them to collect whatever materials they like with minimal guidance. As much as it’s handy to have a parent as a leader, this is ultimately an activity for your kids to figure out. 

Please note that it’s not wise to cut down branches from trees. Encourage your children to find materials on the ground rather than destroying the woodland to build their shelter with natural resources at hand. 

Source Man-made Materials

Not all shelters have to be made with natural resources! You can afford to get creative with other materials such as clothing and plastic bags to provide a waterproof roof if it starts to rain.

It’s not advisable to find these materials in the woods, because sheets of plastic and trash can pose a safety hazard. Instead, utilize what you’ve brought with you! 

Build Your Shelter With Natural Resources

Now’s the time to step back and allow your kids to get creative. You should encourage them to come up with their own ideas, because there are countless ways to build a shelter with natural resources. These include:

  • Balancing a long, strong branch between two nearby trees, and then creating a triangular-shaped structure out of other branches. This is an easy shelter to make that looks like a camping tent. 
  • Create a teepee-shaped shelter with one large, sturdy branch dug partly into the ground. Place other branches around the main branch in an angled way to create a teepee shape. If you can’t find a branch big enough to act as the center pole, use a slim tree. 
  • Encourage your kids to use what nature has already got, such as a bunch of trees that create a shelter shape already or a cave. This is great for kids who don’t have the strength to rely on heavy branches. 

Once a firm structure has been established, you’ll want to test it out for everyone’s safety. This includes gently wobbling the structure to see if it moves and volunteering to crawl into the shelter to see if anything falls. 

Decorate The Shelter

Decorating the shelter is one of the most creative tasks of the process. Not only is it fun for kids to use their imagination, but decorating the outside with natural resources such as piles of leaves, blankets, plastic sheets, and smaller twigs helps to make the shelter waterproof and more private. 

When using leaves to cover the outside of a shelter, you’ll need the shelter to be made of lots of branches to hold up the leaves. Try to find large leaves on the ground that won’t fall through. 

Allow your children to be creative by making a wreath of pine cones, a decorative entryway, and even “furnishings” inside the shelter such as seats made of rocks. Try to bring art materials so they can make welcome signs. 

What To Do When The Shelter Is Finished 

Once you’ve finished your natural resources shelter and played around inside it with your kids, you can leave the shelter in the area for other families to explore. You can even come back the next day to play again if your house is nearby! 

Make sure to tidy up any man-made objects that you have left behind, however. Using natural resources and building a shelter in the woods is all about respecting nature and others, including local wildlife and other visitors. 


Building a shelter with natural resources is a brilliant bonding experience for everyone involved, including both the kids and adults. Hopefully this guide has taught you how to build a shelter with natural resources and will allow your kids the creative freedom to make their own mistakes and build memories!

Joyce Bailey
Latest posts by Joyce Bailey (see all)