Blanket Forts

One afternoon, we transformed our downstairs into three kingdoms. The kingdoms all had castles – ramshackle affairs, built from tables and chairs, overlain with drooping blankets. Two of my sons and I each crafted our own soft fortress for my 6-year-old daughter and her friend to play in. There was quite a bit of creative problem solving, as corners were lifted by string or tacked up with pieces of tape. Quite slapdash, the whole lot of them. They’d never meet Fairy Land code. Sleeping Beauty wouldn’t be caught even napping in them.

But each had the essential ingredients for a successful indoor fort:

Crawling space. The longer the labyrinth, the greater the fun. There should be at least one turn in the passage to the inner room, to enhance the sensation of secrecy. Plus, it’s fun for kids to crawl in tight spaces.

A dark, cozy center. There should be something fun for your crawlers to find at the end of their journey. It should be a slightly more open chamber – for instance, the space under a card table. Line it with pillows. Have the walls be colorful beach towels. Let your kids put their own decorative touches. Adding a small lamp or flashlights makes it even cozier.

And a story to play. Kids enjoy having a snug, secret place to read. But it’s even more entertaining to have a story to act out with the fort. We invented a really fun one. Feel free to use it or have it inspire you to make your own.

I’ll add a couple of cautions. Use only soft materials and make sure chairs aren’t likely to fall inward. If you put a light inside, don’t have it touching any fabric walls and don’t leave it on for long. And beware those musty blankets from the basement, as we found out the hard way. (Allergies have a way of hampering fun). And make sure your kids promise to help you put it all away after the fun is over.

If winter is giving you cabin fever, try what we did. Turn your cabin into a kingdom of pillows and soft, secret places.

Bruce Van Patter

all material ©2006 Bruce Van Patter