Today’s summer activity for kids, #14 in our 51 Easy Summer Family Fun Activities series, is to create a secret hideaway, tree house, or fort with for your kids. Did you have a secret place when you were a kid? I did. I went there when I was sad, if I just wanted to get away from everyone, if I wanted to read comic books in peace, or even have make-believe, secret club meetings. (My stuffed animals were the best club members ever – they agreed with everything I wanted to do!) This can be a hidden place for him or her to read a book, play, and imagine. For me, I remember it was a great place to quiet the mind.
Here’s an excerpt from David Sobel’s book, Children’s Special Places, so you don’t think I’m just making this stuff up.
An examination of the secret world of children that shows how important special places are to a child’s development. From the ages of five to twelve, the middle years of childhood, young people explore their surroundings and find or construct private spaces. In these secret places, children develop and control environments of their own and enjoy freedom from the rules of the adult world.
Working with your kids to discover or create a secret hideaway is perfect low-tech, summer fun because not only do you spend time together creating, your kids will spend HOURS having summer fun in their own private space. You can also turn it into a project that Dad works on with the kids. Not only will they be spending time together outside, Dad can show them the basics of woodworking or gardening.
Here are some ideas for how to help your child find or create a secret hideaway
1. Explore and discover. If you are lucky, you might find someplace in the yard, neighborhood, local park, or nearby forest preserve that is naturally secluded and safe – a nook in the garden, a small cove, a grove of trees. Go on a hunt together to see if you can find one. If so, help your kids make sure the area is clean and then help your kids “personalize” it. Bury some secret treasures in the ground. Plant some pretty flowers or mark the area with large rocks. Leave a waterproof box with a flashlight, some comic books, and some toys.
2. Create a Secret Garden. Have your kids read the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett? This book is over 100 years old but still holds appeal because a secret garden is magical. Fairies might appear, cute creatures might visit, or your best friend might whisper an important secret. Psst: You can download The Secret Garden ebook for free from Project Gutenberg, if you want to read it with it with your kids.
Here’s a great article on how to create a Secret Garden for your child, if you don’t have a natural nook in your garden or backyard already. My daughter likes to build fairy houses and furniture in her secret gardens. If you need some toy fairies or a fairy house, check out our Schleich Fairy toys which enchant girls of all ages.
A secret garden doesn’t have to be all flowers and fairies. For boys, create a dragon cave or troll yard for his secret space.
At the SimplyHeathltyFamily blog, they created an awesome Dragon Cave indoors that you can use for inspiration and adapt for outdoors. Check out her site for instructions on how to paint it and see how much fun the kids had making it.
3. Build a fort. There are so many cool ways to build a fort. Pick your material – boxes, wood, blankets, tent, etc. If you have toddlers, a box with a door cut out is all you need for a good time. As your kids get older, give them some materials and tell them to have at it. Watch their imagination take over and create the perfect playspace. Familyfun.com had a some good and easy instructions on how to build the perfect fort.
4. Treehouse. My kids are too old now for the climber we have in the backyard, however, once we put some blankets around the “treehouse” part of the climber, they suddenly started spending more time out there. We put some pillows out there and the kids take their iPod boom boxes out there to jam to their favorite music. If you want to work with your kids to build a treehouse, here are some instructions and planning tips from FamilyFun.com again to get you going this summer.
Did you have a secret hideaway when you were a kid? What was it?
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