Fort it Up to Beat the Summer Heat

When I mention to people that my son once went through a phase where he slept in a cardboard box (in his room!) for about six months I often get a tepid response, tempered by that flicker of horror and judgment that moms try unsuccessfully to hide.  This post is not for those moms.  This post is for the moms who immediately thought, “My kid would totally dig that.”

Is there a kid that doesn’t love forts?   From the couch cushion cubby to the elaborate tree house, forts fulfill some innate desire for creating a home, and my son’s interest in forts does not stop at the occasional large appliance box.  All of my kids have enjoyed building a place of their own. Over the years I’ve offered up various tools to meet their need for a den.

Many years ago (before Pinterest so I had to think this stuff up without the help of the internet) I bought a bunch of pvc pipes, connectors and a couple of sheets, put them in a plastic bin, and slapped a label on it titled “Fort Building Kit.”    That’s it. Just a box full of pipes.

Probably should have cleaned up before staging this picture.

Close up of the parts

As you can see, it is nothing fancy, but the kids have spent a lot of time over the years building various structures with it.

Using the fort kit to build a space station

Looks space worthy, no?

For something requiring a little less up front money, try the newspaper geodesic dome.    Find step by step instructions here –

Aubrey loved building this and it was a part of our living room decor for quite a while.

Alex built a very similar dome in an engineering class

Set your kid loose with a roll of duct tape and some odds and ends like cardboard boxes and see what they come up with.  Really, that’s it.  A roll of duct table and some stuff rescued from the recycle bin.


This was a maze of tunnels inside.

For a truly frugal fort, and one that can go with a history lesson, try the “sticks found in yard” teepee.

Why yes, Alex is wearing pink women’s flip flops.

Even a platform can be magical with the addition of cool accessories like a slide and a pulley system to bring up snacks.

Bring up the snacks!

There are some great ideas out there on Pinterest to try. Jordan has wanted one of these for a while and it just never gets to the top of our to do list (somehow I think it would be more vampire less fairy these days but even teens need a place to hide out)

Hula Hoop Canopy – Click to go to this project

I love this simple pup tent fort idea–and it involves power tools so double the fun.

Folding Pup Tent -Click to go to this project

This one is my favorite.   Totally dig this.   I don’t get milk in plastic jugs and I’m pretty sure my kids might think they are too old for such shenanigans, but I may have to convince them to try this one.

Milk Jug Igloo-click to go to project

As a last resort, you can always let your kids camp out in the chicken coop.

I promise you this was before any chickens lived in it. Even I have standards.


6 thoughts on “Fort it Up to Beat the Summer Heat

  1. Nice ideas! I don’t think anyone really grows out of forts, I’m thinking I should make the plastic bottle one and just live in that for awhile. Much less space to vacuum 😀

  2. I have always said that I don’t really care ‘where’ my kids sleep, I just care ‘that’ they sleep. It’s saved us a lot of angst and resulted in good sleep over the years.

  3. Pingback: Fort Friday

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