With lockdown ongoing, it can be a task to find cheap and easy ways to keep all the family entertained.
The humble fort is a staple part of many people's childhood, and is a fantastic way to keep the kids busy for an afternoon, evening, or even overnight! We've put together a list of DIY fort ideas that are fun to build, and perfect for playing in.
If you want more of a challenge after reading this, you could try and make a den in the garden or a reading nook! You could also have a look at some of the tips from Ikea we've included at the bottom.
1. Find Your Space
No matter the size of your house or living space, kids will always be able to find somewhere to create a fort. The living room is always a good bet, as the children can make super cosy cushion forts. The dining area can also work for an under-the-table house, or a washing line can be easily transformed!
2.Collect Your Materials
There's no need to buy anything new- there are so many ways to make your very own fabulous DIY fort with things you can find around the house! It doesn't matter if you don't have all the items on this list, just enlist the kids to gather anything they can see that they can add to their fort.
- Blankets! The most essential element of any fort, blankets, sheets and duvets will make the space extra cosy and warm.
- Pillows and cushions (the more colourful the better!).
- Fairy lights- these tiny lights are perfect for adding a cosy, magical feel to your home, and help create the ideal vibe for your fort.
- Cuddly toys.
- Chairs- A chair is the perfect way to extend your fort, and doubles as a little shelf too!
- Laundry pegs.
- Strong string/ wire if you want your fort to be held up by suspension.
- Heavy books and other items to hold down the edges of the fort.
- Umbrellas- (not for the superstitious), an open umbrella makes a great doorway!
- Towels just in case, if you're serving food/ drinks, or are making an outside fort.
3. Decide What Fort To Make
Now you've gathered all the essentials, it's time to see what type of fort the kids may like to build! From forts made from cardboard boxes, to simple hideouts using just the kitchen table, there is something to fit every home.
Classic Fort- All you need for this simple fort is a couple of kitchen chairs and some blankets. Simply place the chairs approximately 1.5m apart, back to back, and place sheets or blankets over the top. Fill the inside with cushions and pillows and you're done!
Cardboard Fort- This DIY idea is a great one if you have a lot of cardboard boxes hanging around. Pile up as many boxes as you can to make a 'fort', by building up from a square-shaped base on the ground. You can decorate or tape together the fort if you like, and can even cut out parts of the top to make a castle design! Kids will love playing in the structure, with so many hidey-hole and secret compartments.
Indoor Tent- Perfect if what you're looking for is minimal mess and maximum containment, simply pitching a tent indoors works just as well as any other fort. Complete this idea with reading torches for the kids, and perhaps roast some marshmallows on the stove!
Sofa Fort- This quick idea involves slightly deconstructing the sofa, but requires very few extra materials. Let the kids remove the cushions from the sofa and throw a blanket over the top. The kids will love playing in their new little space, and all in good view of the tv!
Table Fort- This fun idea requires very little building, although it may be a good idea to make this fort after family dinner. Pop a blanket over your table, add your cushions and you're sorted.
Washing Line Fort- If you have a washing line, all you need to do here is attach 2 large sheets or blankets to your washing line, and secure down with a heavy object or chair. And there you have it, a DIY outdoor fort!
Air Fort- All you need for this exciting idea is a sheet, and a vent or fan:
4. Pick Your Theme
So your fort-building is complete- now it's time to have some fun and get creative! Here are a couple of ideas for DIY themes that the kids and family can all get involved in.
If your kids are animal lovers, why not build a DIY jungle den? Stuffed wild animals, paper grass and perhaps some safari fancy dress will make the perfect jungle lair. Place a couple of houseplants around for a 'nature' vibe.
Top Tip: Create some 'binoculars' for your little explorers using old toilet/ kitchen roll holders. Simply take two cardboard tubes, and decorate them with paint. Next, glue them together to look like binoculars and tie around some string or yarn so they can be worn!
Midnight Fairy Garden
A fort is also the perfect place for your very own fairy garden. A couple of little bottles of 'fairy dust' (glitter), a vase of flowers and some drawing activities make the ideal fairy domain.
Top Tip: For a safe and fun touch of lighting that doesn't require lights to be strung around, find some battery-powered fairy lights, put them inside an old jam jar or mason jar, replace the lid and you have your own DIY portable mini lamp! These look adorable strewn around inside the fort, or are even a great idea for the garden or as simple decorations for the house.
For the more magically inclined, a wizard's reading nook will help get the kids interested in having books around them, and encourage their imagination. Take some heavy old-looking books if you have some, and pile them up around the fort (make sure to leave a stack of readable books for the kids though!).
Top Tip: Blend together a banana, honey, a handful of spinach and half an avocado for a wickedly green, healthy yet delicious 'Wizard's Potion' that the children can enjoy in their new magical space.
Now you're done building your fort, it's time to find some activities to occupy the kids in their new favourite hangout! Here are some suggestions:
- Audiobooks are an ideal way to listen to stories in the dark.
- Reading their favourite books.
- Pick some family board games for an evening of challenge!
- Pop a film on a laptop, iPad or TV for a cosy movie night.
- Shadow puppets are always a fun way of storytelling- direct a torch towards the blanket or tent, and everyone on the other side can see the cool animals, figures, or characters you create. Try taking it in turn to tell stories!
- Make it a sleepover! Spending the night in a new space might help combat some of the feelings of containment associated with lockdown, and is, of course, loads of fun.
- Play! Take in some toys and let the kids play to their heart's content.
If you're looking for even more ideas, have a read of this guide from Ikea! For more fun lockdown activities, check out these no-prep indoor activities and our suggestions for keeping cosy this winter.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
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Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
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