Design a Den
Imagine a secret hideaway as you think about what makes you feel happy and safe.
What you’ll need: Paper and something to draw with.
What’s it for?
This activity will help you think about what makes you feel safe and imagine a special place that you design for yourself. This will help you to identify things that make you feel safe and happy.
Notice how you’re feeling right now. Close your eyes and notice what’s going on inside your mind and body.
How are you feeling?
What are you thinking?
How does your body feel?
You are going to design a den, or hideaway, and draw it on your paper. This could be something you would be able to make in real life, like a pillow fort or blanket tent, or something that might be more difficult like a tree house, or even something from your imagination like a castle in the sky!
To draw your den, first imagine what the outside is going to look like. Draw a picture of the outside of your den on the paper. Is it a large space or a small one? Are there doors and windows, or do you need a secret passage to get inside?
Now think about the inside of your den. What would you want to have with you in your den? Think about a place where you have felt cozy and safe. What was it that felt good about that place? Could you add some of those things to your den drawing? It might be a special person who is in the den with you, or a pillow and blanket you like from your bed, or a pet.
Sometimes there are things that might make you feel anxious or worried. If you would like to, draw some of those things outside of the den. In your drawing, they aren’t allowed to get inside the den you’ve drawn. What is keeping them out? Maybe there is a door, a dragon, or super powers that keep them away!
Draw yourself inside the den. Imagine how you would be feeling if you were inside. Notice how your body feels when you imagine feeling safe and calm.
You might like to share your drawing with someone you trust, or talk to them about some of your ideas from the picture.
Extra Activity: Ask the adult taking care of you if it’s okay to make a real den. You might not be able to use all the ideas from your imagination, but what could you safely create in the space you have? For example, you could put a blanket over two chairs to make a tent where you could sit and draw or read. Before you make your den, make sure you know how long you are allowed to keep your den in place so that it doesn’t feel sad when it’s time to put it away. If your adult says you can’t make a den right now, what about making a miniature one for a favourite toy or stuffed animal?
When you’ve finished, spend a moment reflecting on the activity and ask yourself the following questions:
What different ideas did you have when you were imagining your den?
Is there anything you would change about your drawing, now that you’ve finished?
How did it feel when you were imagining what you would have in the den with you?
Do you think your den would look the same as someone else’s idea? What might be the same or different?
Was there anything hard to think about while you were making your drawing? Is there someone you could talk to about these feelings?
Was there anything that felt really good while you were making your drawing? What was your favourite part?
This activity helps you to identify things that make you feel safe, and imagine keeping difficult feelings away. Finding a way to feel calm and safe can help you to feel settled when things are hard.
Take a moment to notice how you are feeling at the end of this activity. Did you discover anything surprising? What can you take away to make you feel better about yourself from this activity?
If you would like to, share something about your experience with this activity with someone you live with! Ask the person who looks after you to send us an email if you have any questions or comments about the activity, or would like to send us any pictures (firstname.lastname@example.org). Don't forget to subscribe for more fun CAT activities!
Created by Heather Dingle © May 2020
Creative Arts Used: Art
Psychological Areas Explored: Emotional Wellbeing, Self-Exploration, Anxiety
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These activities could be done by children of all ages, but some may need the support of their parent or carer to read the instructions or complete the activity safely.
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