I have been totally enjoying the Nurturestore’s simple play, comple learning project this January. I have loved looking back through old ideas and putting together ideas we have already done like this one and sharing them. Simple play is so important and building a fort is definitely simple play if you keep it simple. Nothing fancy needed except imagination.
Create a new world for your child to explore!
What is so important about a special hideout for a child? What isn’t as important as building a fort, is what I would rather say! Fort building is a magical experience for any child. Call it whatever you like, a fort, a hideout, a den, a cave, a secret place, it provides your child space just his size.
It’s a separate area for your child to make his own, fill with his own style and personality, and take refuge from the world (your house) all around him. Sometimes you just need a small, cozy spot to call your own. I think he feels a sense of relaxation inside the cozy walls of whatever we have set up together.
Sometimes fort building is extravagant with Christmas lights (though I am a sucker for Christmas lights) and pillows. Sometimes it is simple, like a blanket thrown over two chairs. Liam chooses what to bring into his forts. The forts are his space. I will admit that I curled up in the one above a few days ago as we read some stories.
What makes a good fort?
Fort building does not have to be a science, don’t get out paper and pencils (unless your child wants to of course)! Keep it simple! What do you have that would make a good fort. The definition of a fort is a fortified building. OK so we aren’t making a castle but it should be sturdy.
Think chairs, tables, couches, saw horses even! Blankets! Blankets are a must for a good fort. Pillows make it cozy and comfy. I had actually saved a couple of boppy pillows from when he was a baby that we still use in his playroom. Somehow my bed pillow ended up there too!
The definition of a den is an animal’s lair or habitation so make it a place to want to hibernate for a while. It’s a place for your child to be and explore all for himself. It may not look pretty, but it will be special!
What can you put in a fort?
There’s one simple ingredient for building a fort after you have the structure, IMAGINATION. Let your child bring his imagination into his fort. Maybe he will travel to exotic faraway places or outer space with furry animal friends. Give him a flashlight to explore.
Your child may want to bring in books, toys, musical interest, their most favorite and valuable possessions to hide inside. I love watching Liam’s creativity as he gathers special things to lay around him. His stuffed animals are the first things he chooses. Books are next. Sometimes there are way too many things inside and sometimes just a few. It’s up to him. I can hear his storytelling from inside the walls of his den. Fort building is more than just the structure, it’s the life your child breathes into it when he plays.
Why is a fort so important to us?
Building forts has shown a side of independence in Liam that we don’t often see. We see his excitement as he creates his own space. We, as parents, have not given him spots for everything to be put like his other toys. We have not set any limits as to how many stuffed animals he can pile in with him. I believe he just knows it is all about him.
Usually, we do not join him in his forts, helping to create the allure of a special place all of his own. This gives him an opportunity to practice independence in a cozy, fun way. Although hard to resist the coziness sometimes myself, I do know with his ASD it is better to give him places where grown-ups are not expected to participate.
He needs his own time and his own thoughts and building forts is a great way to help us work on all those goals. It is never permanent, always changing, always different and that’s just the way Liam likes it!