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8 Reasons to Build an Indoor Fort in Your Classroom

Last week our school celebrated Literacy Week. Our entire school participated in a ton of fun activities including Flat Stanley, a Writers Symposium and an Inuit Storyteller.

But for my class of 6 and 7-year-olds, the hands-down favourite activity was our Friday Pajama and Fort-Building Day. After the forts were built the kids were encouraged to read their favourite books inside. Okay, stop laughing. A few determined souls actually did lie down and read.

The kids all came to school in their jammies, with slippers, stuffies, blankets and flashlights.

All day long they were asking me, “When can we build our forts?”

The happy hour finally arrived at 1:00. Armed with a few simple rules (respect other people’s forts and ask before taking something) they were set to go.





It was a noisy activity and I felt kind of sorry for the teacher next door, but the sheer excitement, happiness (I heard “This is the BEST day EVER!” more than once) and gazillion benefits that go along with such an activity, made it all worthwhile.

8 REASONS TO BUILD AN INDOOR FORT IN YOUR CLASSROOM:


1. Develops PLANNING Skills: Just what IS the best way to maximize the room and comfort of the fort? The kids had to work that out for themselves as there was very little adult assistance. Do they use the desks? The chairs? One blanket or two? 

               
2. Promotes TEAMWORK: The kids started out building their forts either alone or in small groups, but before the end of the day the magic kicked in and they made one big, beautiful, gigantic structure! A lot of negotiation and compromise was needed.


3. Develops PROBLEM-SOLVING Skills: Initially the blankets kept collapsing in the middle so the kids were trying to figure out how to fix that. Tying knots in the blankets? Masking tape? And where is the best spot for that masking tape so that you’re not wasting it all?



4. Promotes IMAGINARY Play: How can you help but NOT use your imagination when crawling through tunnels of blankets and chair legs. Jungles, animals, caves, subways, fairy forests …



5. Can Provide a CALMING Effect: Okay, to be honest, most of the kids were pretty hyped up. But there were actually 4 or 5 who just lay down in a quiet, forgotten corner of the fort and either read or closed their eyes and chilled for a bit.



6. Increases FOCUS: All these kids were extremely focussed on accomplishing their common goal. Not once did I have to remind someone to get “on task”!  Can you imagine? Haha.



7. Facilitates SPATIAL INTELLIGENCE: In order to build a fort, you need to be able to visualize it (or at least an aspect of it) before beginning. Then it helps to be able to picture the next stage in your mind’s eye. While this is going on you’re making one quick decision after another.


8. Builds SELF-CONFIDENCE: My kids were absolutely BEAMING whenever they built a new structure, or made the existing fort a little bigger or better in some way. Every change, adjustment, refinement brought a resurgence of pride.



Have you built forts in YOUR classroom? I’d love to hear about it.




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13 comments

  1. I LOVE this!! Now I want to build a fort for myself to read in! :) Sounds like the kiddos had a blast and I bet they didn't even realize they were learning all those things.

    NotJustChild'sPlay

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  2. Love your idea of everyone building forts at the same time. Think we will have an everyone build a fort time too.

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  3. What an amazing day! I will definitely be adding that to our next pj day.
    Alyce

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  4. Oh I use to do this with my own kids at least every other day and you are right it was so much fun. I love the way you have broken down the benefits Barb. It is great when we can justify good old fashion fun as an amazing learning experience. By the way...what are stuffies?
    Julie :)
    Mrs Stowe's Kinder Cottage

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  5. What a fun, fun day your students had!! Who doesn't remember building forts when they were little and how much we enjoyed them? Your students will remember this for such a long time. I bet you have won the coolest teacher ever award for sure!
    Lori
    Conversations in Literacy

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  6. What fun! This really makes me want my own classroom so I can try this out! I am sharing with colleagues who do have their own classroom:)

    Tara
    The Math Maniac

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  7. I remember at my old school, an *elderly* 5th grade teacher would *over*decorate her classroom every Halloween - she'd make it so you had to crawl under a table to get in and out of the classroom! :)

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  8. We do build forts but FORT DAY!!! That just sounds like too much fun not to do it. I can't wait to share this idea with my class, I sense a fort day in our near future. Thanks for sharing, Liz :)

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  9. How fun!!! We haven't had a PJ day in several years. Since we are a uniform school, I may not be able to do that, but I know I can plan of afternoon of fort building and reading. I have gotten completely off track with reading blogs, I have missed reading yours. I'm going to spend some time catching up on what I have missed.
    Kelly
    I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

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  10. I can just imagine it was indeed the best day ever! What fun for everyone.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

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  11. Barb, I love this idea. It does sound like the best day ever!
    Lyn

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  12. Love this! I may have to try it as a reward day. I'm always up for pajamas and reading. The forts would just get them excited about reading! :-)

    Crystal

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  13. Barb! This is brilliant! I LOVED doing this as a kid and my kids LOVED doing this when they were little... OF COURSE it's perfect for school. Totally doing it!

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