For Christmas, my brother and sister-in-law gave the family a "fort kit". It had rope, clothespins and a couple of sheets. I've seen this idea on Pinterest, with thoughts of making one before, but am glad they finally got around to it. We pulled out the various components with some extra sheets and got to work. On Friday night, they worked in two different groups. We cut the rope shorter and needed to burn the ends to prevent fraying. Sheets were tied everywhere! Pillows were stacked all over. They loved it!
The next morning in another attempt to get them off electronics, we asked them if they wanted to change things up a bit! They all had different ideas of what they wanted to accomplish, yet we had limited supplies. Everyone shared what they wanted and together we came up with a plan that included as many of the ideas as we could. They all agreed as we kept working on our project that it was cooler with all the ideas rather than just doing one or two. Working together, we could decide where the supplies would go. The end product was much better than our individual limited view at the beginning.
We tied rope segments to the end of sheets, searched for more ropes, used clothespins to attach other sheets to the ropes, and tried to keep things as high of the ground as we could. I had to do an army crawl at points of it to get out!
The kids (and adults) were quite happy with their results. I'm sure we'll be doing different designs in the future. I actually really look forward to trying this technique outside in the woods! It will be a great setting. There is a great, partially built "fort" at the Kalamazoo Nature Center's outdoor playscape. I loved that it was a great invitation to build. While there are many skills learned from building forts, many children (and adults!) don't have that opportunity (or make it). Having the partial shell (or invitation with loose parts) gives a quick start to fort making. They had walls mostly built with pine boughs and some extra wooden planks to build the fort. For our forts at home, we had to understand physics, interpersonal skills, cooperation, knot tying, trial and error, gravity, uses for clothespins, etc. It also makes fort building accessible in a short amount of time.
Components for a Fort Kit:
bag, sack, pillowcase, or container to keep it all in one place
clothespins (dollar store)
rope (dollar store)
sheets (garage sales, second hand stores)
What would you add to the fort kit?
This makes a GREAT gift to put together for someone else for inexpensively. We found we wanted more sheets and rope than what we had and could use the materials in various ways. Each time we interact with them will be different!
Here are a couple of articles on the importance of building forts:
Check out #10 on this list as a resource from Last Child in the Woods
Ten Lessons that Kids Learn from Building Forts by Richard Louv