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It was a wonderful day out in the country.  I woke up thinking how fun it might be to build a fort, but my parents home is overflowing with fun activities. So pulling the kids away from bikes, the pool and the trampoline can be a challenge. But when I mentioned my idea for the fort, the cousins were so excited that we went for it.

Process: We started by driving the gator into the field and back to the HUGE brush pile. Most of the downed branches are left from Hurricane Sandy. We dove in sifting for what we thought were the best. Next we ransacked Pop’s lumber. We found 2 nice pieces plywood and an old pallet.

We chose a site. We picked a cluster of trees to use as a base. The space between the trees could act as an entrance. We started with a lean-to structure using the pallets and plywood. We gave each of the kids a chance to try out the drill.

I tried to step back and let the kids make choices. They leaned and weaved the long branched which made up the sides of the fort. We found a bunch of fabric and shredded it up. From there they draped and weaved to enlose the fort.  The greatest invention was the “bundles.” A child would lay down a strip of fabric and then hand-pick a bunch of small logs from the firewood stacked behind the fort. They would lay the logs across the strip then tied them up and place them at the base of the fort. Fun– And all their invention!

A carpet of soft, grassy brush and fabric was laid down inside.  A door mat and a flag was added. The final step was to decorate the interior with drawings and graffiti.

What they learned: Working together is fun. You can make something out of “nothing.” How to rip fabric. They learned and tested some building principles and techniques like weaving, binding, and drilling. We also talked a little about site, angles, scale and proportion.

What I learned: I learned to try to step back sooner. I wonder if the process could be even slower? How do I get out of “teaching” mode and just support the kids to enact their vision? As the kids (some of whom had just met) became more comfortable with one another, their inventions seemed to come easier. It just took time.

I hope the kids might continue to expand and use the fort. Could there be bike parking, a mailbox or even an additional room? Time will tell…