Forts are great for kids because they provide a safe amount of privacy. Kids want a place they can go to play and hang out with friends, but they lack the emotional and financial ability to rent an apartment or buy a home of their own. Forts are usually built in an outdoor space and are usually elevated in a tree or built on stilts. If you think your child would have a great time playing in a fort, draw up a design and build a fort for him and his friends.
To make the instructions easier, we will build a fort that sits on stilts instead of in a tree, but you can adjust the directions if you have a tree available. The first step for building a great fort is to find a sturdy, somewhat secluded area. You will build walls on your foot, so if the space is out in the open, children will still enjoy some privacy. Create a large cube out of pieces of wood. The cube should be large enough for a few children, but small enough to be supported by the stilts. Once the cube is complete, you can add the stilts. Building the complete fort before elevating it makesthe building process easier and safer.
Add Windows and an Entrance
Before attaching the walls and floor of the cube, cut window holes in the sides and a door hole in the front. Most forts are open-air, but you could install a door or use plastic as glass panes in the window. This is a matter of preference and it depends on how much money and time you want to spend on the fort. You can make a simple, light-weight door out of wood or cardboard, but consider whether a door will make entering and exiting the fort dangerous. While focusing on opening and closing a door, a child can lose balance and fall. A fabric curtain might be a better solution than a traditional door.
Once the floor and walls are assembled, you can add the roof. The roof can be as simple as using an additional sheet of plywood balanced and nailed into the four walls. You can also create a tin roof by laying a sheet of tin on top of the cube. You should nail tin to the walls, as well. Securing the roof it important, which is especially true if your child plans to play in the fort in less-than-perfect weather conditions.
Personalize the Fort
After you have constructed the cube, you and your child can decorate it. You can paint or stain the wooden structure. Using protective paint and stain is a great idea. It helps you avoid weather damage, which is important because your fort will likely be outside all of the time. You can also help your child decorate the inside of the fort. Consider using fabric to cover the window holes, adding simple pieces of furniture if there is enough space, and adding pictures to the walls with push-pins or nails. You might also let your child do all of the decorating so he or she feels at home when inside the structure.
Photo: David Sprankle