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Summer break is the perfect time to break out your fort building skills! Kids love secret spots, and they’ll love it even more if they help you make it themselves. You can go the treehouse route, use free plans for a wooden playhouse, string up some blankets or bust out the cardboard boxes! There are a ton of options for forts, depending on how permanent or portable you want it to be, how big or small, inside or outdoors, and available materials. If a fort is on your summer bucket list, we’ve got all the inspiration you need. Here are 25 DIY forts you and your kids will love to build.
1. No need for a tree for this small outdoor fort! In just about 3 hours you can be finished with this easy wood build. It uses fencing sections as the walls and includes a hinged door with peephole, flagpole and flag and built-in seating.
2. Here’s a little outdoor nook that’s got high-style! The framework and floor of this fort are wooden and come together in a snap with the right tools. Add 2 drop cloths for the roof and side curtains and you’ve got a breezy little spot to hideaway.
3. This DIY fort kit is amazing. It includes everything you need to create your own fort – in a variety of ways – PVC pipes cut to different lengths and connectors, clamps and drop cloths. You can use the kit inside or outside and create whatever your imagination can dream up! This is a great one for the kids to use alone!
4. Use some left over decking wood to create a cute little tree fort. This fort has two tiers with multiple entrances of ladders and climbing ropes to make for interesting imaginative play.
5. With some rope, sheets, blankets and a little imagination you can create a huge fort that will fit all the kids! Just use structures already in your backyard as the main framework – fences, decks, railings, swing sets, etc. Stretch and tie ropes and lay your blankets over them.
6. Turn an entire room into your fort space! Want a fort feeling without being cramped? Use the whole room and create the tent-like feeling by hanging and draping sheets all along the walls and maybe even overhead. You’ll get lots of space with the same vibe. This is ideal for a porch or sunroom area!
7. Ask any kids and they’ll tell you: cardboard is the best material to use for fort building! But what if you want to take that fort outside and the weather is a bit iffy? Use this tutorial for creating a water-proof cardboard fort! The kids can definitely help create this one with boxes and duct tape.
8. This adorable canopy fort is made from flat sheets and a hula hoop! It’s small enough to use inside, but great for outdoor play too. All you need is a high enough spot to hang it from. Plus, you can fold it all up, making it highly portable.
9. You won’t believe it, but this ridiculously cute little backyard teepee can be constructed in about 5 minutes. You just need some bamboo sticks, sheets, rope and clamps! It’s sturdy enough to withstand child’s play, but easy to take down and whip up as well.
10. Don’t underestimate the power of a good old platform in a tree! If it’s not too high and your kids are older, you might not even need railings! Not only is this economical and a time-saver, but it’ll allow the kids to turn it into whatever they like, whenever they like!
11. This two-story tree fort will likely blow your mind. It’s built entirely around a tree, with usable upper and lower levels that boast real windows, a porch and balcony. Plus it’s got real electric lights for nighttime use. Check out all the little details – like the upper railing that mimics tree branches and the rope and pulley for the bucket. You’ll need a lot of building materials, time, tools and know-how to recreate something like this, but it just might be worth it.
12. If you’ve got a tree stump handy, you can create an amazing fort. Made out of wood, this playhouse styled fort is basically a platform resting on a stump. It has adorable details, like an open staircase, real wood shutters and a large curtained doorway that can be closed for privacy. Loaded with kid-friendly color and charm, a tree stump fort is a great fort alternative.
13. By now, you’ve probably seen pictures of air forts, which are a super easy, no fuss, no mess way to create a secret hiding spot. All you need is a super large sheet, packing tape and a fan! If you’ve got this one on your bucket list, check out the tutorial for instructions. The kids will love it.
14. Here’s a clever and unique idea for creating a fort for the kids – try roller shades on your table! It’s perfect for play time, and rolls out of the way and out of sight when eating or entertaining. You can use this idea indoors or outdoors, all you need are shades, permanent markers and a table tall enough!
15. This super cute foolproof fort uses a wooden A-frame and curtain panels to create the shape of a tent. It’s highly portable though, as the curtains are situated on a wooden stick and velcro-d on the bottom. This is a great play tent for a little person, and can be moved inside or out on whim.
16. Here’s a collapsible A-frame tent fort that uses a wooden dowel, a sheet and some elastic to create the cover. It’s a little less build intensive, and more impermanent, but just as adorable and fort-like.
17. In a stroke of genius, this blogger used the wooden frames and heavyweight fabric from Ikea, along with some ribbon and velcro, to create an eye-catching fort area for her little girl. The wooden frames are usually used upright as room dividers. The pops of neon are so fun.
18. This little fort combines hideaway fun, shady practicality and sandbox play all in one! For a treeless backyard, a little teepee like this one creates a fun cover that kids will love. But this teepee steps it up a notch with a sandbox inside – making imaginative play a must.
19. Make a super easy fort from PVC pipe and fabric. You can take it down when needed, or move it around and build it wherever you’d like. It’s small enough to be easy and unobtrusive, but big enough for more than one kid to play or read inside.
20. Create a fort from found materials around the yard! This stick fort is amazing. It’s in the shape of a teepee, and boasts tables and seats made of stumps and logs. Around the fort this family planted runner beans, so there will be lots of shady vines that grow up the sides. This is a great idea for using nature, being innovative and creating something permanent WITH your kids that they’ll love to play with.
21. This pieced together fort was built in a garden over many years. They began with some stumps and partially dead trees and built a low platform. They added a gate and lower play area, and over time created the walls, the top frame and finally a roof! It’s a rustic look and a labor of love that the whole family took part in.
22. Did you know you can create a living fort? It’s true! Willow is an ideal material because it is pliable and will grow from shoots stuck in the dirt! This living willow fort is formed by weaving stripped willow branches around a domed PVC pipe frame. They then planted some willow branches all around the fort, which have since grown up and over the fort, clinging to the willow dome. It’s a great experiment in nature science, engineering, botany, and so forth!
23. Here’s an awesome and easy to make stick fort kit your kiddos can have hours of fun with – over and over! All you need to make the kit is some dowels, connectors, styrofoam balls and some non-stick clay. By sticking the dowels in the balls at different angles, you can form 3-dimensional geometrical shapes, or fun forts! The forts are non-permeant, can be as big or small as you like and are only limited by your child’s imagination! Store them easily, then put them up wherever you want, and they’re different every time!
24. This cardboard castle fort was built for a birthday party adventure, but any kid would love to play king or queen here, for any reason! It’s a spacious place to play make-believe with a soft blanket floor and duct tape brick details.
25. Just to show how incredibly awesome cardboard can be, here’s an amazing multi-room cardboard box fort. There are nooks and crannies, secret spots, back doors, window boxes with flowers, real curtains, a locking front door and a SKY LIGHT! It’s all hand-painted – and any kids dream. It was made by two little girls with killer imaginations and a crazy amount of boxes.
Check out these other DIY’s for Kids:
Kimberly Mueller is the “me” over at bugaboo, mini, mr & me, a blog that highlights her creative endeavors. She especially likes to share kid crafts, sewing attempts, recipes, upcycled projects, photography and free printable gift tags/cards. When she’s not enjoying being married to her best friend, chasing after the natives (AKA her three kids) and attempting to keep the house in one piece, you can find her with a glue gun in one hand and spray paint in the other. Aside from DIY pursuits, she also enjoys writing, reading, music, singing (mostly in the shower) and the color yellow. Kimberly recently published a craft book entitled Modern Mod Podge. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest,Bloglovin’ and Instagram. Email her at: bugabooblog(at)yahoo.com