Who doesn’t love a good fort-building session? Whether you used to take cushions off of Mom’s couch or throw blankets over oddly constructed pillars and crawl around trying not to knock it all over, forts have long been a part of the childhood experience. And let’s be honest: there are plenty of adults out there who love to construct a good little hideout with the young ones too.
Besides, creative play is important for kids of all ages, so why not encourage it? Building a fort definitely fosters that creativity, but the act can also inspire critical thinking and problem-solving skills, not to mention teamwork and imaginative play. Fort-building kits just take those concepts to the next level. With the stick-and-ball structure children unknowingly develop STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), while other kits offer a sturdier base that will keep the fun going for hours.
Many of these kits are great for a wide range of ages, but because sometimes parents want a chance to unwind and just watch their children (especially the younger ones) play independently, there are a few hands-free options too. Whichever one you go for these fancy forts are sure to offer another way to expound some of that endless kid-energy while creating lasting memories for the whole family.
1. The Original TOTE-A-FORT
Looking for that perfect kit for your kid to take to their next sleepover or playdate? The Tote-A-Fort is a pretty nifty pick. It comes with three lightweight, polyester blankets and bean-bag-inspired weights that stop a fort from collapsing in the center. Plus the blankets come with Velcro fasteners so that they easily adhere to one another, making it easier for little kids to build. The best part is that you can throw it all into the cinch sack and easily tuck it away or take it on the go.
2. Obuby Kids Construction Fort Building Kit 120-Pieces Ultimate Forts Builder
Why build a regular old fort when you can construct an igloo, a rocket or a castle instead? The sky is, as they say, the limit with this 120-piece fort construction set. It comes loaded with 75 sticks and 45 balls that can be connected to build a variety of structures, secretly helping your little ones develop STEM skills while they play. Once your fort is in place (perhaps with a little adult supervision), it’s sturdy enough that you can throw a regular old blanket or bedsheet overtop for extra fort goodness.
3. Power Your Fun Glow in the Dark Fort | 81pc STEM Building Set
How many kids build a fort in their bedroom and then ask if they can sleep in it? Well here’s the perfect kit for sleepovers of any fort builders dreams. This STEM-building set is designed for ages three to 14, and is customizable to a variety of shapes. But the most exciting part is that once you’ve constructed your fort, you can turn off the lights and watch it come to life in that neon, glow-in-the-dark kind of way.
4. Crazy Forts
GREAT GIFT IDEA
This award-winning sticks-and-balls set has definitely redefined the way kids build forts, all while engaging young minds and sparking creativity. The 69-piece kit comes with everything you need to build a solid foundation indoors or out, and you can fancy it up with a bedsheet or blanket. Tunnels, domes and all other creations are at your fingertips with the accompanying instruction manual, but if you really want to get crazy invest in two sets and try out some of the double-build suggestions, too. This fort building kit is one of our favorites, and it’s also one of the best toys to give kids if you’re looking for a birthday or Christmas gift.
5. Fort Boards: Fort Building Kit | Jumbo Blocks
Tunnels, castles, boats and even submarines are possible with these award-winning fort boards, which can be tilted to all kinds of angles for endless creative play. The kit comes with 44 boards and 46 connectors that can be used indoors or out to build more than 20 square feet of surface area. Plus the durable plastic material means that this kit should hold up quite well for any younger siblings, cousins or friends who may want to make use of the boards a few years down the line.
6. Easy Playhouse Fairy Tale Castle
BEST FOR YOUNGER KIDS
Smaller hands may have a harder time piecing together extravagant forts, which is where this playhouse castle comes in handy. Kids can still customize the fort and make it their own with markers, crayons, stickers and other crafting supplies, while tired parents can watch all the action go down from the comfort of their seat, a hot beverage in-hand.
7. Straw Constructor Building Toy
BEST FOR STEM
Who says a fort has to be larger-than-life, especially when you’re a younger kid? If you’re looking for something fun to build with the kids that will spark their creativity and develop their STEM skills, this colorful set is a great addition to the toy room. There are 1000 pieces to help you build a variety of forts and other fun creations, plus the BPA-free material cleans up easily with soapy water or wipes. The set is designed for ages three and up, but parents should be aware that the connectors are on the smaller side, so definitely keep an eye out if you’ve got a kid who likes to put things in their mouth.
8. EagleStone 3 in 1 Kids Play Tent, Play Tunnel, Ball Pit with Basketball Hoop for Toddlers
BEST FOR TODDLERS
Toddlers don’t always have the patience to build a fort (or to color one), but they definitely have energy that they need to get out in other exploratory ways. Enter this play tent, fort-building kit, which comes with a rocket ship main area, a tunnel for crawling through, and a ball pit with a basketball net for extra fun. It’s easy to set up and comes with a lightweight carrying bag, which means you can bring it to the grandparents’ house or easily tuck it away when not in use.
9. Nature Bound Camouflage Net for Kids
BEST OUTDOOR FORT KIT
If your kid is totally into nature but too young for a blind, this portable camouflage net may be the next best thing. In terms of outdoor forts it’s one of the coolest around because you can set it up anywhere (over another fort-building structure, draped over a tree or even over a picnic table), but it can also be used indoors as well. The giant net comes with a drawstring sac that makes it easy to tuck away or bring camping, or just hang the net from the ceiling to add even more outdoorsy ambiance to your playroom.
10. Kizi Haus Fort Building kit covers
BEST CUSTOM COVERS
If your family is looking for a more creative fort-cover solution, Kizi Haus makes customized covers that fit directly onto its fort-building kit. The result is a customizable fort with a secure cover that won’t fall down during play, which keeps the fun going for longer—especially if you’ve got younger children running around the thing without actually paying attention to what they’re doing.