10 Reasons You Need to Drop Everything and Build a Fort… Right Now

Education GeekMom

One time, as a child, I built a fantastic fort that withstood four New England winters.

I was so proud of it! I would spend entire afternoons holed up in that sacred place. I’d get lost in an imaginary world, or while away the hours lost in a favorite book. I’d love to know how many books were read in that space!

Of course, my brothers and I built many forts over the years, both indoors and outdoors, but the outdoor forts reigned supreme.

This was back in the age before helicopter parents, ultra-safe playgrounds, and multiple screens. If it was nice outside, we were outside… until dinner.

I realize things are different now, but I believe fort building is an important part of childhood.

Not only that, it’s educational.

Earlier this week, I told my kids about my favorite childhood fort. I shared all the many adventures I’d had inside of it. I recounted the joy of rediscovering it each spring, as the snow melted and the days grew longer.

And then, we dropped everything and went outside to get our fort on.





Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

You guys, you need to get out there and do the same. Right now.

10 reasons why you need to drop everything and build a fort with your kids right now:

1. Every child needs a cozy nook

It’s true! Having a special place of your own is a childhood need. I can remember transforming my closet into an office, or making blanket forts in our dining room, or building a treehouse. Every kid needs a nook.

2. Encourage a love of nature

Kids these days suffer from nature deficit disorder. Don’t believe me? Read this book and you’ll see that nature is important for our children’s health and happiness.

3. Fort construction requires planning ability

Building the perfect fort requires lots of planning. From location to materials to construction itself, children are required to think ahead. This is something parents are always asking their children to do: Think before you act.

4. Boost problem solving and critical thinking skills

Forts are the original STEM challenge! Constructing your very own building is engineering in its purest form. During construction, your children will meet obstacles and, in order to overcome them, they will have to rely on critical thinking skills.

5. Forts require teamwork and collaboration

Do you want your children to get along? Have them work toward a common goal! After hearing stories about my childhood forts, my children had a goal and they worked together to meet it. Sure, there were squabbles but that brings me to the next point…

Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

6. Practice communication skills

Working with others can be challenging. When working toward a common goal, there are often disagreements. In order to meet the goal, individuals must work together. I loved watching my children discuss their plans and ideas, and collaborate to overcome obstacles.

7. Exercise!

Let me tell you… my children slept well that night! They were exhausted. Building a fort is tons of hard work! In addition to walking up and down the hill in our backyard countless times, they were lugging heaving sticks and logs. They not only exercised their brains, but they also worked on those fine and gross motor skills. Fort building is the perfect activity for super-active children, like my son, who benefit from “heavy work”. Just look at this tuckered-out duo:

Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

8. Increase self-confidence

As a child, there is nothing more satisfying than building your very own space. I can recall the pride I felt each spring when my fort was still standing, and I could see the pride in my children’s eyes as the fort neared completion.

9. Play matters!

In this age of screens and extra-curricular activities, old-fashioned play has become a lost art. Building a fort allows children to have a space of their own. In that space, they can get lost in an imaginative world. They can play house, fight battles, and pretend to be someone else. Forts encourage creativity and imagination and play, and these are important parts of childhood. If you don’t believe me, read this book.

10. Forts are fun!

Last, but certainly not least, forts are fun. At 37 years old, the thought of my childhood forts brings a smile to my face. Your children will be making memories and building bonds with each other that will last a lifetime.

Now is the perfect time to drop all the things and build a fort with your children!

March is the perfect time to build a fort! The ground is littered with fallen branches from the winter months. There are no mosquitoes yet, and it’s neither too hot nor too cold. Build one now and your children can enjoy it all spring and summer long!

Tell me: When was the last time you built a fort? Share here!

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9 thoughts on “10 Reasons You Need to Drop Everything and Build a Fort… Right Now

  1. I remember building forts with my sister’s in Iowa, although no in the summer. But now my son and I live in a condo in Phoenix. Fort building outside in the summer is a bit of a challenge.

  2. I loved building forts as a kid! Thanks for the great article and reminder of simpler times. I realize this is off subject, but I have the twin of the dog in the photo. I adopted her 13yrs ago in Anchorage at the pound and have always guessed her to be a Belgian Shepherd/Husky mix. Do you happen know the breed or mix of your dog? Beautiful! I have never seen another dog like mine so I was quite taken to see yours. Thanks!

  3. We’ve built a few forts over the past two years. One I helped my kids build and another they build with the neighbors. It’s been great fun both times (and both are still standing!)

  4. Last evening we were out at my father-in-law’s childhood farm, now owned by one of my husband’s cousins. First regarding play and nature deficit, just BEING there felt so healthy and alive for the kids. They just ran and ran and didn’t mind. But the part that really sticks out here is when two teenaged second cousins said “remember the clubhouse?” and their own nostalgia made all the little kids want to see it, too, so they all headed into the woods where there was an ancient truck back rusting, which they’d fixed up to be a house, and all the kids were just in love with it. So anyway, that’s that.

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