My family recently had the chance to visit the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, which is a breath of fresh air in the world of children’s museums. Among the many great exhibits was a room so special I want to recreate it at home. Called “Building Big,” it is a space designed to help kids build some amazing forts.
The classic fort is made with couch cushions, chair backs, maybe a pillow or two, and blankets that serve as a roof, which often loses its fight against gravity. But, I learned in the Building Big exhibit you can give your kids the tools to explore gravity-defying shapes and structures, without compromising their industrious fort-building spirit.
The Building Big exhibit lined the walls with recycled doors, ladders, and headboards, attached to which were all kinds of hooks and handles. Scattered around the room were large pieces of fabric with ribbons sewn intermittently around the sides. To hook a piece of fabric to the wall, kids just slide a ribbon on a hook or tie it to a handle.
Forts really grow in scale by tying multiple pieces of fabric together and hooking them to opposite sides of the room. Crates, planters, and clamps rounded out the building tool set. My 2-year-old and 8-year-old were equally entertained.
Back home, I saw my own Building Big exhibit taking shape. My kids share a bedroom that doubles as their playroom, and my daughter is in a loft bed that nearly reaches the ceiling. I’m envisioning hooks and handles both on the loft bed and on the nearby surrounding walls, and recycling all of the old sheets that are in the closet. It’s truly an idea worth stealing and I can’t wait to see what the kids will build.