As I mentioned in the Playful Learning Spaces Giveaway (and yes, there’s still a little time left to enter) there is a strong impact in a thoughtfully prepared space. If you want your children to be playful, it helps to create an environment that invites children to play. I can think of few invitations to play that are more compelling than a special space like a tent or a hideout. You can set one up, say nothing, and almost instantly you’ll have children dragging blankets and animals in for a jungle tea party, darting in and out as they dream up dramatic adventures, or cozied up inside with a good book.
Here are a few ideas for tents, forts, and hideouts you might want to create with the children you love and teach:
I am a huge fan of these A-frame pup tents from Lindsay & Drew and keep trying to convince my handy husband that he really wants to make some with me for our boys. I keep picturing them lined up in our playroom, out in our yard, and on the beach at the lake, with our giddy boys running between them. They look quite simple to make and easy to store, transport, and set up.
If you’re a fan of the card table hide-outs, and feel a bit crafty, you can find a darling pattern from Empty Bobbin Sewing, here. Or for those happy to pick them up ready-made, you may want to peruse Miss Pretty’s etsy shop.
For a similar style, you could also try this ingenious take by ikat bag where she makes a simple play house using tension rods and a hallway. Taking out the angles and keeping it to straight stitches — that’s my sewing style. The decorations may have to be hot glued felt at our house or drawn on by the kiddos themselves!
If you like to keep things a bit less ornate, you might love this PVC Pipe Playhouse from Angry Julie Monday. (Ah, PVC pipes! Takes me back to my college landscaping days!) She gives measurements and instructions for creating a frame from PVC pipes (be sure to mark your cut pipes so you can easily put it together each time) and then you can simply drape it with blankets and sheets to create the perfect fort.
Of course, my husband (as he peaks over my shoulder) says all of this is cheating. “Blankets and books,” he says, indicating his old-school rules. In fact, he did just rig one up a month or so ago, draping a large blanket from under the top bunk mattress and across the floor, anchored with books at the bottom. I’ll have to snap a picture next time. The boys loved it, though it was a bit delicate for wiggly boys and had to be reset a few times before they simmered down and went to sleep.
There is huge value in having kids rig up their own forts with open-ended materials. Plenty of creativity, math, science, and problem-solving involved! You can encourage that by creating fort kits to have at the ready. Check out this Fort Building Kit from Meg and Andy Made (pictured above) based on this post at Saltwater Kids. (What a great birthday present idea!)
I hope that’s given you some inspiration! If nothing else, grab a few kitchen chairs and some blankets, and build a fort today!