Play Stuff Blog

A Soft Spot for Blanket Forts  

You look up from your work email after hearing muffled giggles and the sounds of shuffling furniture, with a vague feeling that every single blanket in your house is being dragged to a central location. Don’t be alarmed, though—it’s just someone building a blanket fort!

During a trip to Tennessee earlier this year, my friend’s five-year-old daughter Christie and I spent a morning crafting an ultra-cozy blanket fort. We borrowed all the chairs from the kitchen, shoved aside a large coffee table, and dismantled the sofa so that we could use the cushions and pillows as building supplies. Christie knew just where to find all the perfect-sized throw blankets that we’d eventually arrange across the “frame” as our roof and siding. After some trial and error (and several promises that yes, we would put everything back where it came from!), we settled on a design that was ideal for a kindergartener and her toddler sister, yet big enough for a grown-up. We padded the floor with fuzzy blankets and throw pillows, stretched blankets across chair backs, and propped up couch cushions as walls. Once construction was complete, we crawled in through the entrance, with Christie toting along some books for us to read aloud as we lounged in our fancy blanket tent. It was a lovely morning which brought me back to building forts with my brothers many years ago.

Blanket-fort! Courtesy of Julia Novakovic, 2020. While stuck indoors on rainy summer days, my younger brothers and I would sometimes scavenge for all the sofa and chair cushions in our house to build a structure resembling a squashy, multicolored Stonehenge. We stood small square couch cushions upright on their edges and laid a longer bit of padding across the top like a lintel. We’d drape some blankets across the whole configuration, and voilà—a cozy space for watching a movie or eating secret snacks.

Practicing social distancing means lots of spare time inside, and many of my friends are constantly on the lookout for fresh, fun indoor activities for their families. So, give everyone at your residence free rein to tear sheets and blankets off beds, pile up pillows, and temporarily rearrange the furniture. Use your imagination and work together to plan your fort; if it doesn’t quite turn out right on the first try, just give it another go! (Using items around your house as “building material” makes you think of construction toys in a whole new light, right? There’s a reason why the blanket was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2011!) Let us know how building your own blanket or pillow fort went by submitting a photo to The Strong’s Play Stories page. Happy building!