Winter in Australia isn’t usually too harsh, but with thunderstorms and rain across much of the east coast, indoor activities are on the menu.
Even for a crafty family, there’s only so long that kids can sit patiently and do crafts or watch films; active bodies need to move, and building a fort is an energetic, creative project that feels more like fun chaos than a learning experience.
You don’t need much to build a fort – householdbasics like curtain poles, cushions, textiles and fairy lights allow kids to tap into their inner architects and create a magical space that’s all their own.
-curtain rods and furniture
-sheets and blankets
-cushions or mattress
-sense of humour
Now, the forts I made as a child were strictly temporary affairs, but I had a friend who made a three-room fort in their bedroom complete with bean bag chairs and a bookshelf; it stayed up for the better part of a year until someone accidentally knocked it all down. Some of my favourite childhood memories were reading with a flashlight in that fort.
Step one: Choose your anchor
An anchor is the foundation of any quality fort; a table, loft bed, sofa, or even a curtain pole form strong starting points from which to expand. Make sure the anchor is high enough to allow space for movement beneath, and don’t forget to factor in space for a mattress, cushions or fluffy rug on the floor (or if there’s a risk of permanence, room for a bean bag chair).
Step two: Building blocks
This is the core construction stage of fort building, and where kids get really creative. Blankets, flat sheets and towels are the most obvious choices, but fitted sheets can help anchor it in place.
Don’t rule out other textiles or household objects, like shower curtains, sheer drapes, bead curtains, large cardboard boxes, wooden doors or plywood (make sure there’s no splinters though).
Step three: Decorate!
A fort on its own is fun to build and play in, but a really great fort should be a refuge. Fairy lights, bunting, plush toys, colourful cushions and a stack of books are a must for any top-class fort.
Add a small table (a crate or sturdy cardboard box works well) for glasses of juice and bowls of popcorn, and snuggle up inside for a cozy, creative activity with a magical outcome.