From the moment of birth, kids demonstrate their wiring to explore the world and learn. Responses to voice and sound teach them to communicate. Tactile experiences of feeding and play develop their senses, components of speech and understanding of the natural world. Watching the interactions and natural occurrences around them draw their interest and engage their minds. Yet, if you ask many children today if they enjoy school, many would tell you “no.” Where did their innate passion for learning go? How can we re-ignite their natural curiosity and love of learning? Fort Magic and fort building activities!
After all, research points out the reality that fun and exuberant discovery increase learning power. Fort building offers both. If you are in doubt, simply think back to your childhood fort memories for assurance. This practical and favorite way to play invigorates fun and inspires a love of learning in kids. On We Are Teachers, blogger Erin Macpherson suggests ideas to inspire a love of learning. While she focuses on the classroom, her points transfer beyond this environment. Whether you are a parent or a teacher or both, Macpherson gives you something to think about regarding how children learn. Let’s take each of her points and see how forts fit into the equation.
1. Teach children to be critical thinkers.
A Fort Magic kit proves to be one large puzzle. Starting as a pile of pieces and parts, the kit requires kids to use their thinker to imagine and produce a fort. The adrenaline rush that accompanies this success pushes them to tear it down and create again, solve other problems and develop a love of learning along the way.
2. Meet kids in their interests and styles.
The pile of sticks and connectors, courtesy of Fort Magic, accommodates the personalities of all kinds of kids because there is no limit or preconceived idea of how the fort should be assembled or what it should look like. The kinesthetic designs, combined with a flourish of activity, might serve as an Olympic-style event for competition. Those with a penchant for art spend time painting the papered fort walls. Kids loving the adventure and escape of a good read fill their fort with pillows, quiet and books. Forts meet your kids where they are.
3. Interweave learning and play.
Does this actually require explanation? Fort building incorporates STEM skills from the moment kids pick up the first stick. Furthermore, social skills, problem-solving, creativity and more weave into every aspect of creating a design. Learning remains the single-biggest secret behind fort building.
4. Incorporate technology.
While fort building tends to move kids away from screens, creative parents can facilitate the safe and appropriate use of technology. Allow kids to discover design ideas, research the culture of Native Americans for a teepee fort, or play an educational game inside the fort on a tablet or other device. Of course, parental controls and age-appropriate guidelines accompany this freedom.
Letting your kids take the lead in fort design and assisting their build fills them with value. Plus, the conversations that take place as you create together or talk later within the fort walls prove priceless. Be sure to make time for this vital relationship building and learning time.
6. Let your kids know you love to play and learn.
Yes, put aside the unending task list, get on the level of your kids, and learn and play together. Your example powerfully demonstrates and inspires learning. Pull in other family members as role models in this as well.
7. Recognize achievements.
Watch for fort building success and applaud your kids’ efforts. You may even be able to relate an accomplishment to a learning struggle. For example, if your child struggles in math, recognize perseverance in problem-solving when the fort collapses or the mental capacities of erecting a fort design.
8. Involve others.
Neighborhood fort parties magnify the fun and the learning. Invite friends, Dad or a favorite aunt to encourage new ideas and activities. Fort Magic Play Ideas, or various bloggers, also offer inspiration for inspiring the love of learning with forts. There is no need to go it alone.
9. Change up the routine.
The possibilities to mix it up are endless with forts, from group versus solo fort building, indoor and outdoor forts, a castle for imaginative play or an art studio fort for creative masterpieces. You can even build several smaller forts and turn them into learning centers. For example, one structure becomes a cozy fort for reading, another houses a sand or water table for science play, a third offers math activities of counting or sorting and so much more.
10. Sum it up.
Wrapping things up verbally at the end of play helps kids retain learning. Take a few minutes as you clean up the fort or before you settle your little one to bed at night to talk about his fort building adventures and what he learned. What your youngster reveals just might surprise you!
How do you use fort building to encourage your child’s love for learning? Do you have any other tips to make learning more fun? Share them with us below!
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The Artful Parent Blog: One of our absolute favorite creative blogs for children and families. The Artful Parent blog is filled with simple ideas to fill your family’s life with art and creativity. A must see blog for sure.
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