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5 Foolproof Forts

photo credit: max charping (no changes were made)

Help your kids explore the Great Indoors by building one of these awesome forts. Afterwards, they can spend the day inside it, either drawing up plans to defend the perimeter or just cozying up to a good book.

By Sara G. Stephens

#1 Table Fort

Supplies: large table, old sheets or tablecloths

This fort offers the benefit of a pre-built frame that’s sturdy and roomy, and is already occupying space in your room (so you won’t be tripping over a new structure arising out of your living space). Lay one sheet/tablecloth over the top of the table, then stitch or tape the other pieces around the perimeter, so they fall down over the sides of the table, creating the fort “walls.” Cut square holes for windows and use fabric paint or markers to decorate. Fill the inside the pillows, stock with a flashlight and snacks, and let the fun begin!

#2 Cardboard City

Supplies: cardboard boxes, as many as you can get your hands on (and let it be said that if a refrigerator or appliance box presents itself in your home, a day of fort-building is mandatory!); markers.

Break down the boxes to form the outline of your city or kingdom. Use markers to draw your skyline or fortress walls. Use taller boxes within the city boundaries to create buildings and to define roadways and streets. Whether the result is a bustling urban landscape or a medieval kingdom, the possibilities for play are endless.

#3 Book Fort

Supplies: books, old sheets.

Stacking bricks, stacking books…what’s the difference? With their varying thicknesses and sizes, books work a lot like Legos for creating all sorts of walls, openings, and structures. When the walls are built, spread an old sheet across the top and secure it under the top layers of books (make sure they’re heavy ones). Use any extra books to make a table inside. Fill with pillows and blankets, and you’ve got a cozy reading space, with plenty of reading material.

#4 Celestial Capsule

Supplies: large box; string of Christmas lights; yarn; scissors

For the little stargazers in your brood, try this simple but awesome fort. Set the box so its opening flaps are on the side, acting as a doorway. Poke holes through the “roof,” and from the outside, insert lights through the holes. The “capsule” will light up with a twinkling display of “stars.” Cut a portal to give your astronaut a view of the alien landscape. Tie a piece of yarn to the exterior in case he wants to go on a space walk.

#5 Fan Fort

Supplies: sheet or light blanket; window fan

This fort is so easy, it’s almost cheating. But it’s so utterly cool, who cares? Loosely affix each corner of the sheet to the ground or tie around a chair leg. Do not stretch the sheet out, leave it rumpled and loose in the middle with plenty of slack. Place a window fan at one corner of the sheet and turn it on. Listen to the shouts of glee as the sheet instantly pops up into a billowy, fabulous dome-like fort.

Regardless of the style of fort you tackle or what you use to make it, encourage your kids to explore the great indoors by building a fort today. It’s a time-tested activity that develops creativity, promotes critical thinking, strengthens communications skills and, incidentally, offers hours of screen-free fun.

Fort Kits–For the Ultimate Indoor Fort!

Afraid the kids will mistake your great grandmother’s antique tablecloth for an “old sheet?” Or maybe the thought of shuttling pillows back to their beds, dragging last night’s cardboard castle out to the curb or re-organizing books back in their shelves makes your eyes sting just a little.

A handful of insightful toy manufacturers have come to market with entire kits that bring the art of fort building to a whole new level of fun, ease, practicality and sophistication.

One of our personal favorites, EZ-Fort, is made by the same company that produces TOOBEEZ, a life-sized construction building system. EZ-Fort kits are stocked with a set of interlocking tubes and spheres that can be linked together to create anything from simple cubes to complex structures.

The kits come in a broad range of sizes, including the Original 54-piece kit, the Original X2 108-piece kit, Super Glow Playhouse Kit (with pieces that glow in the dark); a Fairy Tale Castle kit includes pink and purple pieces for extra princess power; and a Bunker kit (in Army drab green with black spheres). The company also offers BlingKees, a 10 LED light that really brings the fort interiors to life. Three different settings include party flash and disco strobe–perfect for sleepover madness.

We’ve seen other fort kits, but EZ-Fort won us over with its durability, ease of use, and price tag. A great value for years of indoor fun. Kits start at $49.99. ez-fort.com

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