Finding Shelter

Scripture: 1 Samuel 24 and 25

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will review the story of David sparing Saul’s life when he had the chance to defeat him.
  • Students will learn how to find and/or create adequate shelter in the wilderness.

Guiding Question: What makes a good shelter in the wilderness?

Materials: rope, canvas/poncho/blanket, stakes/sticks, outside space

Procedure: Review the story of David sparing Saul’s life. Focus on how both of them chose the same particular cave as a safe place to rest. Have students independently make a list of human needs: air, water, appropriate temperature, protection from wilderness, etc. Then have them compare lists with a peer or small group of peers and edit their lists if necessary. Discuss how a shelter needs to help protect and provide for a person’s needs if they are out in the wilderness. Things such as strength, climate control, and potential climate/animal dangers should be taken into consideration. A cave was good for David because it had strong walls that kept them out of the weather and provided a hiding place from enemies.

Let students practice making the following shelters outside.
Additional shelters according to climate/needs and more specific instructions can be found at this website:

1. Lean-To

If you have a blanket or poncho, spread it out horizontally between two trees. Using rope, tie the top corner of each to the tree so that it is straight across. Be sure that you do not make it too taunt. There should be some fabric dragging the ground when it hangs straight. You need to use this excess fabric to angle the bottom of the blanket out away from the top to make a lean-to shelter. If ground stakes are available, anchor them into the ground and tie the bottom of the blanket to them. If not, use sturdy sticks by digging a narrow hole, inserting the sticks, and then filling in around the stick with dirt. If possible, use a stick or rope to make a center support in the middle of the shelter. This basic shelter will help protect against wind, rain and direct sunlight. Use brush such as pine needles and leaves to line the inside of your shelter to provide insulation and maintain heat especially since this structure is open on three sides.

2. Tent:

Attach rope straight across between two trees at your tent’s ceiling height. Drape a poncho or blanket across it so that an equal portion is on either side of the rope. Anchor each side to the ground with stakes/sticks.

Additional Questions:

  • Consider the different types of shelters: tent, lean-to, cave. What are the pros and cons of each?
  • Why is it helpful for shelter walls to slant downward from the ceiling? (Rain water can run off and animals are less likely to perch on it.)
  • When choosing the location for setting up your shelter, what conditions should you consider? (Level ground, distance to water source, proximity to trees, local animals)

Supplemental Activities:

  • Have students research the types of shelters that animals make for themselves such as bird nests, beaver dams, hollow logs etc. If possible, go on a nature walk to look for them in the real world. What can we learn from these constructions?
  • Have students consider these types of animal dwellings and create their own shelter. Encourage students to consider heat insulation/ air flow, types of predators they need protection from, etc. In what region would their shelter be most useful? Depending on available resources, they can draw their plan on paper, and/or make a mini replica and/or attempt a life-size model.

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