Friday, November 4, 2011

Cool fort! Building a hideout gets kids outdoors

Classic fort structure: Way too low for an adult to get into

A fort is a kids-only shelter – that’s what makes it fun. And the idea of building one will get your kids off the couch and into the great outdoors.

If it’s not too snowy, you can do it like this: 

1. Pick the perfect spot. 

Scout out an existing support that you can build your fort against. This might be a tree, a bush, a fence or a big rock. Or even the side of your house. 

2. Gather together your materials.

Grab up anything you can possibly build with, like sticks, branches, logs and old lumber - whatever you can find.

3. Build the fort, like this: 

• After you choose a good spot next to a supporting structure, clear out the floor space. You can lay a tarp on the ground if you want to, but either way clear the space of sticks, twigs, rocks and poky things.

• Make a frame using big pieces of wood by leaning and criss-crossing them against your supporting structure.

• Once you have the frame in place and the walls started, anything your kids can drag, lug or gather to weave into or lean on the frame 
will make the fort take shape and give it special character.

• Don't boss the kids around too much. Sure, I want a professional-looking fort as much as the next control freak, but if my 4 year old wants to spend the whole time decorating a log with pinecones, I let her.

Pinecone decor

• Make sure to plan in some windows and a door. 

• Make a roof out of branches.

• Hold a secret meeting. Elect officers.

4. In case of snow: 

Build a snow fort if the snow is sticky enough, by rolling giant balls of snow (à la snowman) until you achieve big blocks. Pile the blocks up into a circle or semi-circle and cover them with a tarp. 

Or just build a quick tent - run a rope between two trees and sling a tarp over it. Weigh down the edges of the tarp with rocks. Done, and kids love this - it's like magic how fast you can build this tent from scratch.

Bundle up and have a great time!

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