I chose this activity because it is a quiet activity that is perfect to do while you have to stay indoors as a family. You can also invite them to build it near the space where you work, so you can be close to them and be able to supervise their play (for safety) while still being able to work. Forts have a magical ability to absorb your child’s imagination and involve them in independent play.

Plus, building a fort is the perfect S.T.E.M. activity that will put your child’s engineering skills to work, and all of this without costing you a cent

Best Ages for This Activity

Two to five.

How to Prepare

What You Will Need

  • Old sheets (for the walls)
  • Clothespins, heavy books or anything else you can find to keep the sheets in place
  • Boxes, broomsticks, tables or chairs to make the structure (make sure they do not pose a risk of falling on top of your child). The dining room table was always the easiest one for my children, as the space below is quite ample, and a large sheet or two can cover the whole table.

Let your child decide what goes inside the fort (pillows, furniture, etc.). the more you let them build the fort and decide how to set it up inside, the better. Some of the things your child might want to bring in is:

  • A blanket for “carpeting” the place
  • A sleeping bag or blanket and pillow to build a small bed
  • A basket with snacks (fruits, granola bars, water or juice bottles)
  • A small box or table to work on
  • Light (make sure it does not become a fire hazard. Christmas lights are good, or flashlights, or a clip-on desk lamp that can be clipped to the top and will not rest on any flammable material
  • Coloring books, puzzles, board games, or any other projects they want to work on
  • Teddy bears or other “friends” for dramatic play
  • Cushions to build furniture with

The fort can be as big or small as your child likes.

What to Do

Nothing! Your child can play without needing your attention. They will probably invite you over for tea or even dinner – I would not miss that invitation if I were you!
Here are some forts children built (but let them decide what they want to build, how and where):

Learning Opportunities

This activity seems simple, but it offers an incredible opportunity for dramatic play, independent play, self-reliance, and many other valuable life skills.
Building the fort uses S.T.E.M. skills, especially engineering and mathematics. Having said that, you must encourage your child to come up with plans to build a fort, engage them in figuring out how to make it safe and solid, how to make sure it does not crumble to the ground and all the other engineering issues to keep in mind. Encourage them to problem-solve and keep building, even start over as many times as they want, until they have a good fort.

Extended Learning Opportunities

Invite your child to try making an outdoor fort:

Invite each child (friends – when we can have friends over again- or siblings) to build their own fort for the stay or the weekend, for extended play. It would be like a little neighborhood! It would be a really fun idea for a birthday party. See below some ideas (you can tell these were not built just by children, but just for inspiration):

If your child really loves having a fort, you can always think of helping them make it a permanent part of their bedroom or your house by building it in a closet or crawl space! See some ideas:

Invite your children to build a fort for their pet!

Oh, the magical things we can do!
I wish you days and days of fun!

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