Build a fort with your kids

By glblguy


We’re almost half way through summer break and I don’t know about you but our kids are getting bored to death already. We’re constantly on the lookout for frugal or fairly frugal things we can do with our kids. We’ve been hiking, visited the library, visited historical areas and a number of other things. My wife had a great idea a few weeks ago: build the kids a fort.

She gathered up all of the scrap lumber I had around the house (which seems to be a lot for some reason), all of the nails and screws I had and got the kids together to start building a fort/play set for our younger kids. The design was simple: just a small deck with railing and a slide. I didn’t help much, as she wanted this to be something that her and the kids did, so I stayed out of it the best I could.

The kids had a blast and the project kept them busy for a few days. I was in the house working most of the time, but constantly heard the sounds of little hammers, saws and my cordless screw driver. Every so often my wife or one of my kids would come in and ask me question about how to do something and then head back out to build some more.

As it turned out, their wasn’t enough supplies here at the house, so in the end she ended up putting about $100 or so into it to cover the cost of the plastic slide and the additional wood that was needed. Worthwhile investment though, as our kids learned a ton from doing it:

  • Since they went with Mom to buy the supplies, they very quickly learned how much wood, nails, screws and brackets cost. They were shocked that wood cost that much.
  • They learned how important it is for something to “square” which leads into the next learning…
  • They now understand that when building something if you don’t do things correctly the first time, what seems like a little mistake slowly becomes a very big mistake later as you build onto it. As a result, the platform is a little crooked. It’s solid though, so big deal.
  • I think the most important thing they learned was they’re mother is far more knowledgeable about stuff than they thought. Until this project, they had always only seen me build things, never my wife. My wife is pretty handy though and while not perfect, overall I think her and the kids did an awesome job.

So, looking for something to do with your kids over the summer that will help teach them about money, construction, team work, and doing things right the first time? Build a simple “fort”. It will keep them busy for days AND give them a great reward at the end.

4 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Build a fort with your kids”

  1. Dramon Says:

    What a great idea. I think there is always a sense of satisfaction in looking at something you built! Which is another worthwhile lesson.

    One thing I was taught is measure twice, cut once.

  2. Stew Says:

    Good to hear that you are having fun in your retirement, glblguy. ;)

  3. Tim Says:

    Great point about building the fort. Something else that is a great purchase is a box of legos. :) We’ve also been taking the kids swimming at the river a ton this summer. Last, road trips, although a fuel investment, can be great family time because dad isn’t on the computer. :)

  4. Kevin Says:

    Making memories with our children… I like your post on training them for life – that is wife’s motto. Plant a garden and assign them the chore of weeding and watering – the rewards are eye opening. Do significant events like building a fort, zip line, etc. Our kids enjoy bike rides – pack a snack or lunch. Enjoy the years of laying the foundation for our children’s life.