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Shelter Building


  1. Start by discussing with the young people what is important in a shelter if they needed to live in it.
    • Does it need to be big? Dry? Does it need furniture?
    • What sort of weather does it need to stand up to?
    • How might this change in the future?
  2. Show the young people the resources and allow them to play / experiment / build shelters. They will need to work in teams.
  3. Shortly before the end of the build time, let them know that mins let the young people know a storm is on the way and they have 10 more minutes to get their shelters watertight.
  4. Once the time is up, encourage the groups to take a look at each other’s shelters and compare the different building techniques they have used.
  5. Using the watering can, test how weatherproof the shelters are (if you are working inside, you could build model shelters on a tray, or put plastic sheeting down on the floor)

Group Discussion

Ask the young people to discuss how well the shelters stood up to ‘light rain’. Would they still be adequate shelter in a storm with strong winds?
You could share some images of temporary structures built in different parts of the world and discuss how they are constructed to suit the local climate e.g. protecting from extreme heat or cold.

Discuss how climate change will make extreme weather more common, and that not just temporary shelters but homes and other permanent structures may have to be built differently to withstand this.

Take it further

Older groups could build shelters that they can sleep out in overnight in them to see how they fare. If young people are going to sleep in the shelters, an adult should check how it has been built and help them to make sure it is sturdy and won’t collapse on them in the night.

Resources Required

Outdoor: Rope/cord, Wooden poles/canes, Tarps, Guide to basic knots, Watering can Indoor: Paper or clean waste plastic, Lolly sticks or art straws, String or paperclips, Toy watering can


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