Ideas for Building Forts

Kids love to hide in cubbies, caves, dens, and forts, and today I’m sharing 6 Fort Building Ideas to get your little builders inspired.

3 Fort Building Ideas

In case you’re just checking in, I’m sharing some of my favorite kid-related ideas from the Bay Area Maker Faire, and today I’d like to share two creative ideas for building forts. These aren’t your quick and simple throw-a-sheet-over-the-dining-table sort of forts. These actually take some time. But the pay-off may be worth it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

1. Milk Jug Igloo

ideas for building forts

I met up with second grade teacher Katy Arrillaga, who was busy assembling a milk jug igloo. Or, I should say, “reassembling,” because she deconstructed the igloo that stood in her classroom, somehow managed to cart 400 milk jugs to the Maker Faire, and proceeded to reattach the bottles together. Katy explained that this was a popular reading area in her classroom and the jugs were mostly donated by her students.

ideas for building forts

This is how it looked about an hour later, moving along more quickly with all of those hot-glue-gun helpers.

ideas for building forts

This picture was taken the next day. I’m not sure how long it took to complete, but the result is stunning and children flocked to this. There’s something magical about seeing so many familiar jugs on such a scale.

Image: Daniel Shiao

2. Woven Willow Huts

The Palo Alto Art Center set up two weaving tee-pees, inspired by environmental sculptor Patrick Doughtery’s incredible willow-dogwood-pin huts. Here’s the inspiration:

ideas for building forts

This picture was taken about a month ago when we visited the Dougherty sculpture. The scale is striking. My daughter loved it, and spent about an hour playing in and out of this hobbit-like hidey hole.

3. Branch and Yarn Tee-pee

ideas for building forts

Referencing the Dougherty sculpture, kids and grown-ups weaved long strips of fabric, yarn, and ribbon through the slats of the teepee.

ideas for building forts

Not only were there children engaged on the outside, but they were also weaving from the inside. To give you a sense of the time involved, these teepees had been up for about three hours at this point. So again, these forts take some time.

Have you or your kids built a fort?

What materials did you use? Feel free to add a link or a photo in the comments.

Related Inspiration

The Role of Cubbies in Outdoor Spaces from Let the Children Play

Milk Jug Igloo

A quick image search on “Milk Jug Igloo” turns out all of these igloos!

TeePee Forts

TeePee Art and Weaving Ribbons from The Artful Parent

Gorgeous photos of the Patrick Dougherty sculpture by Mamen Saura



  1. OH WOW that milk jug igloo is SO CREATIVE! and what stunning weaving tee-pees !so cool!!

    I agree! Thanks for the comment, Daniela!

  2. these are so creative!!! the other day i was just saying to my childhood friend (on my paintcutpaste fb wall actually) that i should post about fort building because she and i used to make some huge indoor forts out of sheets and random props. i remember bringing a boom box & popcorn popper into our fort during one sleepover where we slept in the fort in sleeping bags and felt oh-so-cool! my N saw your N in the woven branch fort on the computer screen and said, “N is in a tree-pee! it’s like a tee-pee made out of a tree!” 😉 hope you ladies are having a beautiful day!

    Oh my goodness, Jen, a Tree-Pee! Seriously, could your daughter get any cuter or more creative?! I’ve been thinking about forts forever, too, and would love to have one or more in our little scrappy yard 🙂

  3. Thanks for letting us see Maker Faire vicariously. Those willow forts are amazing. I’m wondering if we can’t rig up some branches for some outdoor weaving this summer…

    Glad you’re enjoying it, Amy. I’d love a Willow Fort too. Anna at the Imagination Tree recently wrote a post on this that would be worth reading if you’re planning to build one.

  4. The milk jug igloo is so cool. I wish I had somewhere to store milk jugs until I reached 400. Wow, that is a lot of milk jugs.

    I know, Amber, isn’t it a lot of jugs?!! Katy had to cart them in on a truck! It’s perfect for a classroom with a little extra space, like a reading rug.

  5. These are all wonderful! Now I’m going to have to figure out a cool fort for my kids this year – I like the weaving one the best. It sure would keep them busy!

    • I want to weave one this sumer, too! Keep me posted on your progress if you and the kids decide to make one!

  6. I’m obsessed with the milk jug igloo. After doing a search for more, I found one that they made fake snow on the edges and the bottom and made it a reading nook for a classroom. I absolutely adore that idea! 400 milkjugs, though, that’s a tall order… hmmm….

    • Hi Heather! I know, 400 jugs is quite a lot!! I like the idea of painting the jugs — I bet that looks cool. Oh, the puns…I can’t resist sometimes!

    • Oh, me too! I’ve been drooling over this idea and keep coming back to it. Time to commit, I suppose 🙂

  7. Wonderful idea to create a fort from jugs!  How do you weave these jugs together?  Massive project but I’m sure its loads of fun.  Tks for sharing this lovely post.

    • Isn’t that cool? She attached them with a hot glue gun.

  8. We’ve done a similar thing in our classroom – only we used our old arrowhead water bottles (the 1/2 liter) My students bring in their own each day (we have no water fountain, and very few of them had their own ‘water bottles’), and I kept seeing them pile up in the trashcan… I saw this idea a year ago, and thought how fun it would be, but with my small classroom, getting that many milk jugs would take forever – then the idea bulb went off – and we started collecting the smaller water bottles 
    We weren’t able to build an entire igloo, however, the kids were very content with their ‘igloo fort’… very fun, and we included a science, math, and social studies lesson into the mix.. They loved it! (and now they all want to meet an eskimo)

  9. My kids made a fort using used plastic taperolls and put soda bottle caps in the hole in the center.:)

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