If you’ve ever watched kids play with forts, you know firsthand how captivated kids are by the work of enclosing themselves within small, cozy spaces. And for good reason- this act has positive physical, psychological and cognitive impact. A cozy hideaway can also serve as a shelter in which to hunker down and bear the elements, helping to extend outdoor play regardless of what the weather brings. All you need for this activity is a few simple materials and some family teamwork. And, once constructed, your hideaway will invite endless possibilities for imaginary play.
Transforming an everyday object like a sheet into a hideaway supports the development of divergent thinking, a skill that’s at the heart of creativity. As kids engage in the process of planning, trying new techniques and making adjustments to their design, they explore early STEM concepts and activate important skills like problem-solving, collaboration and persistence. As kids maneuver their bodies and heads in different positions to crawl in, out and around tight spaces, they activate their proprioceptive and vestibular systems, the senses that support balance, muscle coordination, attention and focus. Finally, creating this new, super special outdoor space is sure to spark hours of imaginary play.