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The Best Play Tents, Forts & Teepees: Take Back Your Dining Room Table.

Jun19

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My dining room table is rarely a dining room table during the heat of the summer and the coldest part of winter. I have these two kids and these two kids believe they live in the most urban city center possible. Never mind the fact that we have a side yard, a back yard and a front yard and miles and miles of sidewalks and not a single crack addict (so far!). They prefer indoor play and my dining room table is the perfect place to create a fort.
Which is fine except sometimes one gets tired of pulling all the blankets out of the linen closet and then refolding them after the kids attempt to ‘help’ by putting them away in a big wadded ball. It’s at that point you start looking around for alternatives to the table as fort. Maybe, if you make a cool enough fort they’ll be happy to play outside and you can drink wine in the house and watch from the window.
fortamajig.jpgFortamajig is an ingenious single piece of fabric which can be twisted and folded and clipped into tent, a teepee, a tunnel or as the site claims, “Just About Anything”. Which, Fortamajic, I think you’re cool and everything but let’s not get crazy okay? The built in stretchy loops can be attached to branches, chair backs, stairways…..even the dining room table. Wait, we’re trying to get them out of the house. When they’re done there’s just one piece of fabric to fold up and store in it’s own little carrying case. Perfect.
superfort.jpgCranium Super Fort is another build-it-themselves set. Flexible foam tubes, magnetic connectors, clips and fabric panels can be formed into all sorts of imaginary structures. Forts, a boat, a castle or maybe a puppet show theater. In the description Cranium mentions “Keeps Furniture In Place” as a key selling feature. Cranium, you are speaking my language here.
teepee.jpgMy husband is nearly 39 years old and still dreams of having a large yard with an enormous teepee. I don’t have the heart to tell him I will never have a gigantic teepee in my backyard. Maybe I can distract him with a cute little teepee. “Look honey! It comes in dozens of fabrics.” I love this play tent, I can see the kids playing with it outside but I also see it in their bedrooms making a cozy little reading nook. Fun and educational.
velocity.jpgMy friend’s dad made her a playhouse in their backyard after years and years of procrastination. It was a lovely little structure but guess what we did? We made a fort inside the damn thing which gave her father an aneurysm. Kids are funny! But if you have your heart set on a more permanent structure with a modern aesthetic and you also have $3000 burning a hole in your pocket you can snatch up this very cool Modern Playshed from Velocity. For about half that you can get this more affordable cozy cottage from Costco. Just don’t forget to include the blankets for the forts your kids will make inside.
I fear everyday my absolute irresponsibility with the amount of television viewing going on at this house has killed all my kid’s imagination brain cells. It’s because of this I love the cardboard box playhouse. Buy it or make it yourself but I am always comforted by the fact that even with hours of television and computer time, my kids can still be entertained with a simple box.
paperpod.jpgBy Nature has several ready to go playhouse boxes in many different styles, like the traditional house, the rocket ship, the pod and the teepee all made of recycled paper. I would love to show you each of these styles individually but By Nature has a phobia of permalinks and makes it impossible to link directly to their products. So here’s the caveman’s permalink for you. Go to the home page, click toys….scroll until you see brown paper. There they are!
familyfunfort.jpgLet’s say your kids watch even more television than mine and a simple box won’t catch their imaginative spirit. You’ve got to do more, like build your own imaginative fort out of cardboard. Family Fun offers up a tutorial for building the Perfect Fort using cardboard boxes, grass and leaves, rope, markers and even rocks. With this project you might even get a full hour of summer daylight burned.
painted_castle_11k.jpgFor an even sturdier fort, check out McGroovy’s cardboard rivets and the rest of the site for inspiration, plans and ideas for locating free boxes. Which you’ll need, unless you’re planning on buying five or six full size refrigerators sometime soon.
I’m thinking this is the key to getting my kids outside like normal children. I’m going to make suburbanites out of them one way or another.

About the author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa's Buzz Off.


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3 Responses to “The Best Play Tents, Forts & Teepees: Take Back Your Dining Room Table.”

  1. Angel Jun 20 at 3:15 am Reply

    OMG I have to save my pennies for that Fort. My kids would love it! And more importantly, keep them *outside* longer ;)

  2. Belinda Jun 21 at 9:59 am Reply

    Yeah, gotta get one of these. Also, will anyone who has $3,000 burning a hole in their pocket please come be my friend?

  3. Sherry Artemenko Jan 03 at 9:05 am Reply

    I love all of your fort ideas! I grew up making forts with my brother and transforming our family room couch regularly.
    Another great option is the Circo Frog Tent from Target that is around $29, or cheaper if on sale. I am a speech language pathologist and blog on great toys and books to build language and creative play. I know first hand that this frog tent is a winner.

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