This week I’m going to deviate slightly from the marriage relationship angle and focus on the parent-child side of things.
As the lone male columnist here at Simple Mom, I thought it may be helpful as the dog days of summer are upon us to write up a “how to” on one of the great indoor activities — building a blanket fort. This is a great way to engage your children in imaginative play, especially on extremely hot or rainy days.
Blanket forts can be even more fun by adding friends or sleeping all night inside the fort.
There are many ways to create a blanket fort. The simplest, by far, is made by draping a king or queen size sheet over a kitchen or dining room table. More room can be added by turning the chairs with their backs facing the table and drape the sheet over the chairs as well.
Another easy fort to create involves bunk beds – hang a sheet by tucking it under the top mattress and cover the bed below. The end of the bed can be covered by a towel or small blanket… and voila – you have a fort!
Now that the elementary building is over, it’s time to move on to the next level. And before you ask my qualifications for such instructions, allow me to provide some — I’m male (yes, women can build awesome forts as well), and I’ve built hundreds of forts for my children. And as a child, I even lived in one for an entire summer — it had two rooms, beanbag chairs, a bed, a small fridge, and a TV.
- Blankets, sheets, or quilts — and for added versatility, include a couple of fitted sheets
- Tables, a sofa, or a bed — something as a main anchor
- Clothespins or tape
Prep work and safety
After you’ve gathered all the supplies, you’ll need to prepare the space for construction. Look for a large space close to large furniture or a bed to use as a main anchor point. You’ll also need to clear out any breakable or valuable objects, as forts tend to be demolished once the children are tired of the creation.
You’ll also want to stay away from small tables or pieces of furniture that could fall over on the kids while they play.
Photo by Tsh
Building an awesome fort
After you’ve located your space, spread a large sheet over the anchor piece of furniture, like the back of a sofa or the top of a table — in my house we’ve used our piano.
A handy tip: if you are using the back of a sofa as an anchor, use a fitted sheet to hold it more securely.
Spread the sheet out and drape it over other pieces of furniture. Use additional sheets and blankets to add more room in the fort. You can either overlap the sheets as they drape over the anchors, or secure them with clothespins or tape (you can also anchor down the corners and sides with heavy objects or books, although it’s not recommended as they could be pulled down on the kids as they play).
Bring in chairs or a tall support of some kind to prop up the middle of the sheet. You can use a tri-pod, a bar stool, or another sofa. Avoid using lamps or other objects that may easily fall over. Wherever you see sags in the sheets, simply bring in another chair or support to get the sheet to the desired height.
For advanced builders only: Mount removable 3M hooks in the ceiling, drop string from them, and attach clothespins or potato chip clips to the end of the string. Then clip the blanket or sheet to the clips in order to create a floating ceiling.
Once the roof is up, use the extra blankets or pillows to fill in the gaps. You may not get every gap covered — no worries, just use that gap as another door or window.
Create a front entrance. No fort is complete without a main door. You can use a pillows, or if you want to really get into it, use a cardboard box as a tunnel entrance.
Photo by Guy Schmidt
Stock it with necessary supplies. This will include whatever age appropriate toys or items your kids want: stuffed animals, sleeping bags, flashlights, puzzles, flat screen TV with DVD player, cold beer and pretzels (oh wait — those last few are my supplies). You get the idea.
Step back and enjoy your awesome creation. It’s time to play.
One final tip: get in the fort with your kids. Let them be in charge of the play. It can be a great experience together.
Did I miss anything? Add your tips and advice in the comments.