Teacher Resources- Knots and Shelters.

Over the years we have consistently used and taught several useful knots. Knot tying is essential for things like tarp set-up, rope bridges, pulley systems, boat building, crafting.




Timber Hitch:

Purpose- Use for the first knot when putting up a shelter, first knot when making a rope bridge, attach a rope to a stick, etc.

Teaching Tips for this knot

-Make ‘d’ shape when first wrapping the knot

-Wrap end string around until you have none left

-Make sure you do your wrapping around the working rope side. Pull tight on the non- working side.

How to make this knot

Put rope over/around log/stick two times.

­Make the shape of a four with working rope over stationary rope.

Wrap working rope under stationary rope.

Pull tight to top of the stick. ­

Repeat steps between the ­ until rope is used.


Bowline Knot

Purpose- Tying off tarps, tying something to your pack, tying off your boat, etc.


Teaching Tips: Leave the standing end of the rope rather loose while tying. Save tightening of the rope for the very end.


How to tie this knot: Take your working end and put it around the pole or tree. Hold the standing end with your wrist down. Turn your wrist up making a loop, and then take some more standing end and poke it through your loop. Leave that loose. Then take your working end and poke it through that standing end loop, and back up on itself. Now pull the standing end to tighten the knot.


Prussic Knot:

Purpose- Tying off tarps, building a shelter, using a small piece of rope to climb a larger piece of rope. Sliding along another rope for a shelter, hanging equipment or crafting.


Teaching Tips: "Rabbit goes around the tree, through the hole, around the tree and through the hole, then runs away." A fairly simple knot that will stay in place when tension is put on it, making in a good knot for climbing.


How to tie this knot: Start by tying your smaller bit of rope into a loop with a hitch at the bottom. Then take your loop and drape it over your larger line that is already hanging. Take your knot and put it away from yourself, through the loop. Tighten it up about half way. Then take your knot over the line and back through your loop pulling down.



Taut Line Hitch

Purpose: Tying your tarp or tent to a pole. This knot makes it easy to tighten or loosen

the tension on the rope. This knot is not good for climbing or heavy weight, but rather for tightening down while building a shelter.


Teaching Tips: Make sure you start with a generous amount of working end.

How to tie this knot: Put your rope around a tree or pole. Cross the working end over the standing end, then under it, and up the loop in the middle. Go back under the working end and through the same loop again. Then take your working end and cross it diagonally over the knot you have made, and under the standing end so there is a new loop, and through the new loop. Pull tight. This knot can easily slide to tighten or loosen tension on the rope.


Tarps and Other Shelters

How to put up a simple shelter using a tarp:

Attach a long rope to one tree using the timber hitch knot. Stretch the rope to another tree. Use the round turn and two half hitches to attach. Put a tarp over the rope.

Attach a short rope to the long line using a Prussic Loop knot. Tighten close to the tree. Put a short stick through the loop created with the short rope. Loop the stick through a loop on the tarp. Do the same to the other side. Pull taught.

Stretch one end of the tarp to the ground. Use wooden stakes to put into the ground. The other side could be connected to a tree using a timber hitch or you could support the edge using a stick straight to the ground. Make a triangle with the stick and a rope going to the ground. Attach the end of the rope to the ground using a stake.


Building shelters and dens with kids


Taking playing house to a whole new level.


Throughout the years in forest kindergarten kids have constructed various play houses, Lincoln Log structures, fairy houses and even a little library where they could sit and be cozy with a book. Teachers help determine if a shelter is safe to enter and help facilitate agreements about the shelter (How many kids fit comfortably inside at a time? Is it safe to climb on the roof? How can friends help build in a safe way?). Generally we do not teach wilderness den making at this age but rather encourage kids to explore different building techniques on their own -learning about what works best as they go.





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