Building a fort or tent indoors might seem redundant, but anyone who’s played in one as a kid knows just how special they can be. Now that you’re grown up, why not share that delight with a new generation? There’s no limit to what a child might imagine while inside or what that simple structure might become — spaceship, time machine, enchanted castle. The real magic, though, lies in the memories you’ll be helping your child create.
Choose Your Site and Materials
Decide how long you plan to keep the structure around. A fort or tent using the kitchen table may be an easy one to make but will probably last only until the table is needed for dinner. On the other hand, a fort built in an out-of-the-way area, such as an unused room or a child’s bedroom, can stay in place for a whole weekend — or even an entire season.
The most essential materials for a fort are large, draping linens. Raid closets and shelves with your child to find what’s available. King- or queen-size blankets, sheets and light bedspreads are best, but any size will work — just pin them together to make them larger. Beach towels and large bath towels are also good. Fitted sheets are especially useful when building a fort because you can easily anchor them to large foundational supports, like sofas and tables.
Building Your Structure
The structural foundation is the bones of your fort, but — as is always the case when children are involved — make safety a priority. Be certain the chosen structural support is sturdy, that it won’t break or topple over and hurt someone. To be extra safe, check that there are no fragile or costly items in the vicinity at all. If little ones don’t break something while protecting the fort from dragons or thieves, the wild tear-down at the end may do some damage.
One structural support choice is to buttress from the ground up. Chairs are a favorite for this. Arrange several — facing outward for more room — throw your linens over them and you have a basic fort. Arrange the chairs near a table, bed or couch and use both as support. You can even wrangle some boxes from a warehouse store. Cut out doorways, add pillows or sofa cushions as side walls, cover everything with linens and you have a grand fort with hallways and multiple rooms.
The from-above approach is more unconventional. This style uses ropes, clips, rods, hooks — anything that provides elevated structure. Suspend clothesline cord from door hinges and removable hooks. Or try a shower curtain tension rod in a back hallway. Throw linens over the cord or rod and arrange them into an unexpected indoor tent. Some fort architects have even been known to bring a patio umbrella and stand indoors. Toss a variety of sheets and linens over the umbrella and you’ll have a tent worthy of Aladdin.
As with anything loose and draping, holes are a distinct possibility. Don’t allow pirates or super-villains to exploit these weaknesses and get the upper hand. Clothespins and safety pins easily close up those gaps. Pillows work well, too — especially if the gaps are low. A pillow inside a Personal Creations personalized Alphabet Pillowcase is ideal, serving as a warning to all who come near of exactly who’s in charge of the fearsome fortress.
Make it simple or make it spectacular, but make an entrance to your lair. The easiest approach is to just leave a gap open. You can also use the juncture between two sheets: fold back one side, then clip or pin. A more exciting option is to make an entrance your child has to crawl through to reach the inside of the fort. Use a hollow object, like a box or tunnel toy, and drape or tuck linen around it.
Make it Cozy and Personal
Relaxation is essential for daydreaming, so create a cozy and comfortable interior. Lay the Personal Creations Baby Alphabet Quilt on the floor for your child to stretch out on. Bring in toys, some crafts or coloring books and a flashlight or glow stick. If you plan to keep the fort up for a while, fill the inside with drawings and hanging stars, electric candles and fairy lights. For safety, avoid using actual candles or house lamps in your fort.
Help your little one name the fort and make a sign with the name on it. Hang it on the fort or above the entrance. Include any necessary supplemental information, like “Private!” or “No monsters allowed!” Let your child draw pictures and pin them around the outside of the structure. If the fort will be up for a while, help him create decorations, such as pompoms or stars. String them together like garland and hang them on the fort and in the area around it.
Let the Fun Begin!
Now that the fort is built, furnished and decorated, the time has come to enjoy it. Offer your child ideas: She can sprawl on her blanket and imagine great adventures, have a tea party with her Personal Creations Soft and Snuggly Lamb or read a story to her plush friend. She might invite some friends to share in the fun. They can dress as space travelers and defend their spaceship from aliens or just enjoy some popcorn and a movie inside the secret hideaway.
Tell Us Your Stories
Did you build an indoor fort or tent when you were a child? If so, what sort did you make? Leave a comment and describe it and who you shared it with, the games you played and the adventures you imagined. Do you plan on making a fort or tent with your child or grandchild or have you already done so? Tell us all about it.