Get Inspired Mondays, Writing

Building Castles With Threadbare Sheets



Last week the kids were on Spring Break, so we celebrated by packing our non-existent bags, and setting off for a grand Staycation.  

Save for the plague of stomach flu that kicked in for the final few days, we had a great time.  We went out for over-priced-but worth-it-for-the-ambience hamburgers and shakes. We decorated plates, and seahorses, and dogs, and vases at one of the trendy paint-your-own-pottery spots. We saw some friends, played an epic, four-day-long game of Monopoly, and enjoyed more than one lazy, pajama-clad afternoon.

But my favorite thing from our week of tomfoolery was when my kids built a gigantic fort — a castle, really — sprawled across the basement floor. My architect-in-training daughter sketched out the plans, and meticulous, methodical (and cooperative!) construction ensued.

Using card tables, cushions, chairs, a soccer goal, a nap mat, hockey sticks, and every one of my old blankets and sheets that could be found, they created an intricate empire — complete with secret passages, a reading room, turrets, and a balcony. This baby was a massive 14′ by 16′ kingdom, where the only thing missing was a crocodile in the moat.

When I came down to see the finished structure, I was amazed. Eyes shining, they crawled me through the grand tour, pointing out the finer details. I saw the nooks and crannies. The best places to hide. And the cozy spots to curl up and dream.

As I lounged on a bean bag in the “Cubs Room” (resplendent with blue and red interior, no castle is complete without one), images of my own fort-building days came to mind. None was as elaborate at this one, but I can remember draping a blanket from couch to chair, ducking inside, and truly believing that behind the almost see-through barrier, I had entered a different world.

A world where I was a princess.

A spy.

A pirate.

A writer.

Or, just a kid who needed some space to lie back with a flashlight and a good book.

In your fort, you could be wherever and whatever you wanted to be.  All that was needed was a little change in perspective.

It pleased me to no end to see my kids finding this same bit of a magic in a heap of old blankets, and I confess to spending some time in that castle during the break even when they weren’t around.

I looked at their patchwork creation of hodge-podgery and saw this:

They built a castle with my old Holly Hobby sheets.

It’s all about perspective.

A stack of blankets.

Some notes on a page.

An impossible project.

What will you build today?


For an extra dollop of inspiration, parents, teachers, and word-loving folks may want to check out this great link for creating book spine poetry.

This post was part of Get Inspired Monday! — a series created to help you dig into your week and find inspiration in unexpected places.

*Find me on Twitter @amandahoving


36 thoughts on “Building Castles With Threadbare Sheets”

  1. I love forts. I’m just gonna throw that out there. I could seriously continue building them save for the social constraints that say I’m a weirdy if I do. Maybe I’ll just have to watch that movie Toys again. It’s been, um, 20 years. Thanks for the inspiration!


  2. Amanda, thank you for a wonderful memory from my childhood. My little brother and I would play cowboys and indians with our fort, knights and ladies, cops and robbers. We could spend a whole Saturday with our imaginations, some blankets, and a couple of chairs.


  3. Great post! Great memories of watching my kids build and play in forts; so much fun!! I’m with you — this is a wonderful creative activity. Everyone needs to duck inside a blanket fort or even pull a blanket over their head once in a while to think, read, or pretend. Thanks for a great idea of how to escape this afternoon 🙂


  4. I LOVE THIS! I love doing things like this! I am starting to initiate my 21 month old grandson into the joys of creating tunnels and castles and forts and anything that requires chairs and blankets and rampant imagination.


  5. This brought me straight back to my youth. When I look back at memories of the school playground, it’s not a playground, but a whole fantasy world of my own. Today I need to create a language. A little different, but still requires imagination 🙂


  6. My play world is one where I have the discipline to clean my house, yet play with the kids, make a good meal, yet not have to do the shopping, not run out of clean bras, yet have someone do the fine lingerie laundry.

    Yes, castles made out of blanekts, to cover the clutter and dust and all that hasn’t been done.

    In the real world.

    I want to go hide in your kids’ fort.


  7. It’s roomy–we’ll be right over!

    There is nothing–NOTHING–so special as watching kiddos build their worlds, is there? That desire to build worlds never really leaves us writers, either. I think so much of what drives me to write is that desire to create, not just characters, but their environment–architecturally, emotionally, you name it.

    So glad you guys had a great staycation–despite the uninvited guest Mr. Flu!


    1. Thanks, Erika! Yes, overall it was lovely, and you’re also welcome anytime you’re in the area 😉

      I agree — writing is taking all of that creative energy and making something entirely different and new. I love that feeling.


  8. Great post and thanks for the walk down memory lane. I loved building and hiding in forts as a child and watching my daughter and her friends do the same is one of my greatest joys. A great reminder that with a dash of imagination we can be anything, anyone and anywhere.


  9. Thanks for the memories, Amanda…my brother and I used our card table with a blanket or two thrown over as a fort. Later, we built snow forts. My dad built us playhouses and treehouses too. We even played in an old VW minibus, and our tent trailer.



  10. Wonderful post! I remember making versions of the same thing as a child. I loved the thrill of imagination and the feeling of accomplishment, despite it not being recognized as anything special by others.


  11. This dredges wonderful memories. I remember draping blankets and sheets over chairs. I felt like I was in an actual tent, castle, or wherever it was I pretended I was at.


  12. Such a great post, Amanda. It’s a great reminder that there are so many different ways to help kids build their imaginations. I’ll bet your days of fort building will be something your kids will always remember about you.


  13. Love this post. You’ve brought back so many memories. My own “tents” that my sister and I used to build with a card table and a blanket. My kids “forts” that resembled the ones in your pictures. Disney World too. Thanks for the memory boost, and thanks for the encouragement to get busy writing. Love you, Amanda!


  14. Awesome! We did the same thing on our spring break. Her cousins, 14 and 11, were happy as clams with their 5 yr old cousin building a ‘crazy fort’ ! Have you heard of ? You just add blankets! The old way is awesome too – we just got this as a gift and loved trying it out, though you definitely need a parent to help so it doesn’t fall down. We made one the size of the living room, too. Glad you posted about this…such fun.


    1. Just checked out that site — very cool! Still, my old-fashioned self thinks that shoving cushions, chairs, and whatever else you can find around is part of the fun.

      Thanks for reading, Heather!


  15. I have so many fond memories connected to forts made from blankets. Today a friend and I went on an adventure in the woods and decided to pretend to be children again. It was so refreshing and afterwards life seemed far more peaceful.


  16. This may be one of those things kids are naturally wired for. They seem to do it even if no one teaches them how. Thanks for some great memories, and some great writing, too.



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