How to… Build a Snow Fort

 

Snow Fort (g)

It’s only the third day of December and Travis is on the second snow day off from school. That meant we had to test out Highlights magazine’s tips for making the best snow fort!

Highlights recommended first delineating an area for your fort with a stick. We used a shovel instead, making a big square on our patio and then mounding up the walls to give us a base.

Snow Fort (a)

To make bricks for the walls, fill a rectangular container with snow. Drizzle with a little water, than add a final layer of snow on top.

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Depending on the consistency of your snowfall, you may or may not need that extra water. We soon found that we did not – today anyway! Continue building until you have several layers of “bricks”.

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We even tried adding windows.

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Simply twist an empty soup can to drill a little peephole.

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Even more fun was adding food color to a spritz bottle; now we could decorate our fort’s walls with art (though I wish Travis hadn’t opted for orange!).

 

Snow Fort (f)

Travis loved being in charge of the “moat”, shoveling a long path away from our fort.

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And we even armed ourselves with ammo, in case enemies (i.e. neighborhood friends) happened to storm the castle!

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Don’t forget a side door to sneak out of! What special activities to you do on a snow day off from school? Please share in the comment!

Snow Fort (j)

Make a Story Time Fort

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It’s hard to get Veronika to sit still with a book, especially at bedtime when we try to fit in a story between dinner and bath.

But not so when I made this fort! She was content inside for ages with a pile of books.

To make the fort, move your sofa from the wall to create a space large enough for you and your little one (alternatively, you can make the fort under a dining room table). I layered the floor with cozy blankets and pillows.

Story Fort (1)

Drape a sheet over the back of the couch and secure with shoes or books. Then head inside!

Veronika scooted it in and was immediately delighted.

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I gave her a pile of books, and soon she was thumbing through them and “reading” to herself.

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Of course then it was time to join her and read a few books for real.

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You can even add a flashlight to highlight pages or words. Once the book was through, I retreated to the side of the fort and let her take over, crawling on the pillows, enjoying her books, and reaching up for the beautifully draped ceiling.

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We probably would have stayed in longer except the cat eventually ruined the “roof”!

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Create a Sensory Tunnel

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Today, with big brother off to kindergarten (!), I had time for a bigger project than usual with Veronika. Using two old moving boxes from the garage, I opened up all the flaps and then nested them slightly one inside the other to form one long tunnel.

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Hmm, the box was intriguing, but Veronika didn’t head inside just yet.

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Next I poked three holes along the top. I stuffed in three socks, all with different patterns. One sock I left empty, one I stuffed with newspaper for a crinkly effect, and one had a musical rattle inside.

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Interestingly, the empty sock was her favorite. She loved trying to catch it and tug on it.

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She seemed quite determined to pull it all the way from the box, and was amazed every time it sprang back into place (Note: you can knot the socks at the top if needed, to keep them secure).

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I placed a few tantalizing toys inside (balls, cars), and finally that did the trick. In she goes!

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She looked absolute thrilled with her surroundings once inside, her own little fort! If you want, you could even make windows, but my boxes were a bit floppy and I skipped that step so that the tunnel didn’t cave in.

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She did also try lying on her back to kick at the socks, but preferred sitting up to play.

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What a fantastic morning of fun!

Create Your Baby’s First Fort

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Forts are such an iconic part of childhood – and it was about time to introduce Veronika to her first!

First Fort (1)

To make a cozy, baby-sized version, use a children’s table as the top of the fort. I draped it with blankets, and set her gently underneath. Her eyes went wide and she took to it right away!

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Everything was fascinating, from the texture of the blanket “walls”, to the way the light came through the blankets, to the legs of the table.

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Big brother needed to join, of course!

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If there are no siblings in the house, consider inviting in a stuffed animal friend or two.

If you need an activity inside your fort, what’s better than a tea party or picnic? We added pretend food and invited Veronika to the “party.”

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Cupcakes fore everyone! She was delighted with the play scenario going on around her, and the fun only ended when we needed the table for the next meal!

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Easy Backyard Spy Fort

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Travis has been into being either a secret agent or a ninja lately – so we needed a proper screen from which he could spy on the goings-on about the neighborhood, of course!

Plant two lengths of PVC pipe into the ground, spaced wide enough apart for an old pillowcase to drape over both. I bought pre-cut lengths of pipe at Home Depot that were two feet long, but wish I had opted for longer – we really had to crouch behind our fort!

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Cut an eye hole in the pillow case, then slip over the PVC frame.

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You can now camouflage your fort with paint. If you want to be sneaky, make sure to paint in shades of brown and green. Mostly though, we just had fun painting on this novel canvas, so our colors were perhaps a bit too bright for any actual hiding.

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Now see what you can see!

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As mentioned, our fort was quite low to the ground, which made spying tough. But Travis liked peeking through at all the activity going on down below. This fort would also work great for games of hide and seek, at least with younger kids!

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Movie Pillow Fort

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You’ll score points as the coolest parent on the block if you trot out this idea on a cold winter afternoon. Arm yourself with this idea for the winter school break ahead, and you won’t get cabin fever!

I told Travis that we were going to make a fort – not necessarily an unusual occurrence – but this time for a special purpose. He was so intrigued, and trotted about gathering pillows, blankets, and stools for his special fort.

Movie Fort (1)

We made it bigger than we ever had before, with an entire bed sheet for the ceiling. Soft pillows made the perfect floor.

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He loved testing a flashlight inside. Neat shadows!

Now for the big reveal – I brought in a computer so we could watch a holiday movie right inside the fort.

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Of course you could do this with a regular movie any time of year, but something about it felt so cozy and right for the holiday season. Don’t forget to arm yourself with yummy snacks!

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The fort was just the right size for a boy and his movie – peek-a-boo!

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Even better, make it big enough for the whole family, and you can all snuggle in there together, matching holiday pajamas optional of course.

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Was this the coziest winter afternoon ever, or what? A big hit!