Family Fort Night: No, Not the Video Game!

Age Range: All Ages
Time: 1 – 1.5 hours
Program Type: Drop-In

For this month’s programming post, I wanted to share with you how easy, low-prep, and high-impact a Family Fort Night can be! We hosted this program as an unofficial kick-off for “Build a Better World” summer reading a couple of years ago, and it was a huge hit!

You may be asking “What is a Family Fort Night?” For us, the idea was to invite families to put their engineering and creative skills to the test to build a cardboard fort together in our meeting room. I’ve seen libraries that asked families to bring pillows, blankets, and traditional home fort-building materials, but we opted for more of a Cardboard Challenge feel.

Our list of supplies consisted of the following:

  • plastic tablecloths (most of these were left over from other programs; we tend to have a stash of them at any given time for table coverage)
  • a couple of rolls of white plastic and fabric (I found these shoved in a corner of our supply closet; who knows how long they had been there?)
  • some large cardboard boxes (donated by staff)
  • scissors
  • Klever Kutters (these are box cutters that are safe for children to use; we bought a pack of ten from Amazon and they have served us through multiple cardboard engineering programs)
  • tape
  • staplers
  • markers
  • tons of meeting room chairs (quite possibly the most important ingredient!)

The chairs were essential because they provided the framework for the cardboard and other materials. When the families arrived, we showed them what was available and challenged them to design as grand a fort as they desired. The results were all incredibly unique!

Finally, when the construction part of the evening was over, we encouraged the families to relax inside their forts and spend some time together, enjoying books and games that we provided.

Not all the books were fort-themed, but of course some of them had to be!

This program was a fun event for the whole family that encouraged collaboration, problem solving, and quality time, and it cost us practically nothing! It’s so easy to do! Why wait? (Although you may want to make very clear that you are not referring to Fortnite, the video game. Maybe waiting until its popularity dies down would be a good reason to wait?) =)

This family was so proud of their sweet little fort that they packed the whole thing up in their car to take home!

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