Experts Confirm Building Forts is Beneficial to Kids PLUS 6 Amazing Forts to Make

Want to come over and watch a movie at our place? Well, you can’t. Why? Because I no longer have a couch. Nope. I haven’t had one for months now.

The sofa formally known as my living room couch is now either a fortress, a tunnel, a nest, a cave, or a prison, depending on what game my kids are playing.

Blankets at the ready

My kids have always been into building forts and not just on the couch. The living room table is often transformed into a cave and often I’ll find my daughter curled up under my desk or in my closet with every single blanket and pillow she could find.

But since lockdown, this fort-building has become a regular thing. As soon as the home learning drama is done for the day, out comes the fort. The blankets become a roof, the cushions become walls, the pillows become stepping stones to avoid the lava-floor and my three kids turn into different characters as they battle dragons, fight wars, dig secret tunnels or simply hide from the world.

fort building good for kids
Image: Bigstock

I go with it. Why? Well, for one, I’m usually busy in the other room cleaning up the epic mess from them being home 24/7. For two, when the kids are in their fort, they actually play together. Nicely. With minimal fights. And, most importantly, if they are hiding under blankets on the couch, then it’s ALMOST like they are not here and I can enjoy a half-hour of alone time.

What’s the deal with fort building anyway? 

I’ve talked to a few mums and fort building seems to be high on the list of lockdown activities kids want to do. It makes sense. Being cooped up inside is hard and our kids are definitely feeling the strain too. Enter the fort – a safe space where kids can play and escape. 

Experts also confirm that fort building is actually super beneficial to our kids too.

Forts have always been a part of childhood, says David Sobel, professor emeritus at Antioch University’s education department. They are universal and one-way children develop a “sense of self” separate from parents. Kids can create a “home away from home” even if it’s literally inside their actual home.

During quarantine, this need for a safe space is even more important.

According to  Emily King, a child psychologist in Raleigh, N.C. “Kids make sense of the world through play. In quarantine, all our needs are amplified. They’re facing uncertainty — not knowing how long we’re going to be doing this.” 

Additional benefits to fort building include:

  • Gives kids a private, secure space
  • Encourages independence and freedom
  • Fosters creativity
  • Regulates their bodies and emotions
  • Gives them (and you) a time-out

Years and years of blanket tents 

What do kids do in their forts? Some play make-belief, some read or play iPad, some even sleep. 

According to Sobel, most kids get the urge to build forts indoors around the age of four, continuing until kids reach their tweens.

So, ladies, that’s seven or eight solid years of having to rearrange the living room every time you want to watch a movie. But, hey, if it keeps them happy (and relatively quiet), then I’m all for it!

Lockdown or not, the fort building force is strong in this house. What about in yours?

IKEA’s epic fort building ideas 

If there is any company that knows a thing or two about fort building, it’s gotta be IKEA. Last week they released several models of different forts kids can make using IKEA furniture (but really, any furniture works as long as you’ve got blankets and pegs). Check them out – they are awesome!

Ikea fort building instructions

Ikea fort building instructions - cave

Ikea fort building instructions - fortress

Ikea fort building instructions - house Ikea fort building instructions - wigwam

Ikea fort building instructions - castle

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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