Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fort Builders

Years ago I saw the Cranium Super Fort. A fantastic toy that let kids contruct their own super forts. I imagined what fun my children would have with it.  I envisioned hours and hours of independent fun. It promised to engage children in learning that was physical and creative and offered hundreds of possibilities for different structures. Look at these children, don't they look happy?

 I had purchased it in my mind already....and then I saw the price.  I thought maybe I had read it wrong.  Did that say $24.99?  No, that was $249.99.....are you kidding me?
  Plus you have to buy "booster" packs if you want to make a really fun and extra large fort...for forty dollars more. So ,my dreams of building super fort were shattered and I reentered reality where we don't spend hundreds of dollars to build a fort in the living room.

But I still had the dream.  So, I came up with my own Super Fort builder project and I must say I think it delivers just as much fun as it's pricey competitor...although it may not be as flashy.  Here's what you need:

  • 1/2 inch PVC pipe cut into 2ft and 1ft lengths(comes in 10 ft lengths)
  • PVC connectors (they have T shaped, straight, X shaped, etc.) Get a variety and buy them in a contractors pack of 10 instead of individually, it's much cheaper that way.
  • A Saw to cut your PVC
  • Pool Noodles (The smaller size not the super thick kind)
  • Some sheets, table cloths, blankets, whatever you have from home to cover your structure.
So, this morning we trecked to the local Home Depot to get the building supplies.  I was so tempted to buy the precut 2 ft lengths of PVC but they were seventy eight cents a piece and I could buy one ten foot piece for $1.30.  So,  I decided we would cut them at home ourselves and I just about speared several people and knocked down and entire shelving unit trying to push a cart that had two children and several 10 foot poles hanging out of it.  (Note to self, regular carts are approximately 4 feet long and are note equipped for large objects)
But, we made it and luckily our vehicle is exaclty ten feet long in the interior or I may have speared some pedestraians with my PVC on the drive home too.  Anyways, we got the pipes home.
We got out our manly sewing measuring tape and marked off 24 inch lengths with a Sharpie.  We also marked off some 12 inch lengths.
And then we showed our hardware know how by trying to saw them like this:

Giant bundle of PVC, girly man saw.  No deal.
So, we had to upgrade to a serious saw.

And, believe it or not, I'm actually really glad we had to do the cutting ourselves.  The thrill of using the saw was half the fun.  My little guy worked so hard and cut most of the pieces himself (with a little guidance).  He was so focused.

Once the pipes were cut we broke out the pool noodles.

And, as luck would have it 1/2 inch PVC fits perfectly into the hollow part of a pool noodle. It's a fort construction match made in heaven.

Just the noodle on a stick was fun in itself.
Soon, we were hooking pieces together with these:

And we had this!

I could really see the wheels turning as the kids decided which connectors they needed and how they wanted their "clubhouse" to look. The smaller pieces were key to making it how we liked it.  And before long it looked like this:

The kids were loving it!  We covered it in some tablecloths and it was an official clubhouse.

And we can just take it all apart and do it again next time in a whole new way.  The parts for the fort we built were about fifteen dollars. (this fort used five 10ft PVC pipes and the connectors, plus two pool noodles) But I definately think that more parts makes more fun so we may add to our collection as we go.  Luckily the "booster" pack for this set is much more in my price range.  I forsee lots of possibilites with our new building kit. It's a project that was definately worth doing.  Who doesn't love a good fort?

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