I have great memories of rainy days at home and fort building as a kid. We used to use couch cushions and blankets to make amazing forts to have lunch in and play all day. It was great!
My kids were excited to do some fort building this weekend, so I pulled out some supplies and we got started. Part of building forts is simply building with what you have and making something great.
As a teacher, I love all of the imagination, and even engineering that comes along with fort building. Children will try a design idea, and then alter it and try again if it doesn’t work.
As we started building, my children struggled to keep everything upright and attached. We needed something better to keep everything together.
I grabbed a few supplies that I had from my classroom and we made the best forts that we had ever made – and they lasted until we were ready to take them down.
The idea for this fort building activity is very simple and uses common materials, however, I share the idea with you because of how well it works and how much fun we had together creating our forts. All you need is:
- Fabric Sheets or Bed Sheets
- Jumbo Plastic Clothes Pins
The more fabric and clothes pins you have the better. We never end up with any left over when we build. We build until we run out!
The large clothes pins are often used during the summer for the beach to clip towels to chairs. Regular wooden clothes pins are fun to use for fort building, but the larger pins work a lot better.
The fabrics that I use I got at a fabric store. The bigger the better. My fabric is also a bit stretchy, and has a bit of weight to it, which helps when building forts so that it can be stretched over objects. However, bed sheets will work just fine.
If you are creating your fort in your home, use whatever you have. Bed sheets and blankets are always a great choice.
One of my favorite things about using these materials is the fact that even little hands can use the large clothes pins and secure fabric that they may of had trouble doing otherwise.
Fort Building Ideas
The large pins are ideal for fort building. The pins can attach to just about anything and keep it in place.
We set up a card table where we were going to build so that we had a base to start with. From the table, we spread the fabrics out across the room. We attached the fabric to chair legs, tables and other fabric.
Always make sure to supervise children when they are building. Kids can get pretty creative with their ideas. Make sure that they are attaching their fabrics to objects that aren’t going to later fall on them.
You can use the large plastic pins to attach two pieces of fabric together to create a roof.
It is so easy for kids to use the fabric, attach it and have it stay in place! The materials create a great fort and space under the fabrics to play.
My students at school love using these fabrics and we often bring them outside with us. Take learning, and fort building outside by giving children the opportunity to build a fort outside using nature as the base of their structure.
You can also gather different lengths of sticks and use them to support your structure. You can stick them in the ground for stability and then build around them.
Since my own children had so much fun creating and building inside, I have now left the fabrics out for my kids for the summer because they were constantly playing with them for different activities.
This fort building activity has become one of my favorites as well as my kids.
This is such a simple activity, and I find that having these materials on hand has encouraged my kids to build even more. I love watching them create and be excited about what they build.
I also like sitting back and watching what they come up with.
It is incredible what kids can come up with on their own. My kids drew a plan for their fort that included entrances in specific places and fabric intentionally left hanging down under the ‘roof’ to create separate rooms.
Personally, I love all of the colors and it made our room look beautiful! Since the pins hold well they happily played in their fort for hours.
More Tent / Fort Building
I found that my children and my students enjoyed building with the fabrics and pins so much that I wanted to extend the activity on another day.
I love doing STEM challenges with kids. If you have never done STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) challenges before, they are basically challenges where children are given some materials and challenged to create something.
They are not explicitly told how to build it and there is not one correct way to build.
I used all of the same materials as we did for our fort building, but I added wooden sticks and some pipe cleaners.
Children were given the materials and then asked to create a structure, using the materials, that they could sit in, like a tent. It was amazing to see what they were able to come up with.
Sometimes the materials can be tricky for construction, especially outside without trees or structures around to use. However, even my kindergarten children had a lot of fun creating and they made amazing structures!
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More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
If you are looking for more activities and ideas to do in the classroom, or at home with kids, below are some of my favourite and most popular learning activities.
From building challenges, and art projects to escape rooms and science experiments, there are lots of things to keep kids busy and learning. Click image for activity description.