Bet you didn’t know that those forts you built as a kid – the ones that were imaginary castles and fortresses against evil monsters – were actually training exercises for a three-dimensional world. “Fort Building” is a creative and developmentally appropriate activity to help children understand the spatial world.
The process of building a fort requires problem solving in a three-dimensional environment to construct crawl spaces and hiding spaces using pillows, blankets, couches, tents, and sleeping bags. Crawling through and hiding in small spaces can provide feedback to a child who is in the process of developing an internal body map. The feedback they receive from engaging in these types of activities can provide information to help them know where their body is in space.
In addition to body awareness, fort building can promote imagination, teamwork, creative expression, and problem solving. Carrying objects provides heavy work or stimulation of the proprioceptors (sensory receptors within the body), which can be calming for a child. The accomplishment of a completed structure can provide a nice retreat to hide or read a book for any child. So whether you have a student in a therapy session or your child is calling to you for some “play time,” consider their young growing mind and how a fairy-tale interaction can broaden their development.
Tips for getting started at home:
- Find Your Spot: Clear the designated area of any fragile or lose items.
- Gather Supplies: Provide your children with blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags.
- Have Fun and Be Creative: You may want to demonstrate fort building for your children to help them get started. You can also find ideas online. Then enjoy as you watch your child create their own world!