The one thing that really stands out in my memories as a little girl, is that of making a fort with my sisters. Our fort was made from the chairs in the lounge, three or four blankets and all our pillows… it was absolutely magical. We would play for hours on end, each game being completely different from the next as our imaginations would run wild.
Now as a mommy, the one thing I find myself building so often for my little daughter, Bailey, is a ‘Kitty house’. Her kitty house is a tent made up of all the cushions on the couch, with a blanket thrown over the top making the roof. She spends ages in her kitty house, making up her own games, including all her dolls and teddy bears. The best part for her is that her little brother cannot get in easily and she uses it as an escape. It is quite a tight fit inside her Kitty house and she has to climb over the edge of the couch to get in. While she is in it, she has to be aware of her movements as if they are too large she will destroy her happy place. Thus she is promoting her body space awareness, as well as her visual skills.
My mother in law made our little ones a table cloth tent. Very simply, it fits the dining room table exactly like a snug table cloth yet it has a door and windows. This is where Benn (1-year-old) loves to play. He enjoys the fact that it is big enough for him to move around freely, as well as it lets in enough light for him to be comfortable. On the odd occasion, he likes to invite our two golden retrievers in to join their game… this creates lots of giggling as well as tail wagging. The one thing that Benn has to watch out for is standing up under the table as he has gotten too tall and he bumps his head. It has been lovely to watch him become very conscious of his body space awareness and now you can see his motor planning as he gets on all fours to crawl through the door to the tent as opposed to bumping his head, time and time again.
We also have a tepee, that is made from material and large dowel sticks and this is fantastic for the children to play in. The entrance to the tepee is very small and so they both need to crawl to get inside. This promotes their special awareness as well as their depth perception. The part I like most is that it is open at the bottom and so you can expose the children to many different surfaces, bringing in some tactile input as well. You can put it on the grass (dry or damp), in sand, in leaves etc. Benn loves the sand and if I peek in the door to the tepee, he is happily keeping himself busy, covered head to toe in sand… typical little boy.
The last type of tent we make, is a simple sheet thrown over our outdoor patio chairs. This is a lovely tent as the sides are slightly open, letting in the hot summer breezes. We also make it more interesting by creating a tunnel with one or two chairs that they have to crawl through to get to the tented play area. Creating this tunnel makes the little ones go down to the crawling position and promotes strengthening their shoulder, back and neck muscles as well as their core muscles. It works on their visual skills as it promotes depth perception. This is where Bailey is often found having a ‘Tea party’ with all her teddies.
It is often the simple things in life that we forget about in our fast paced lives. We are so often busy running around, thinking our children need the best of the best and the most expensive toys, however… these tents are so simple to create and the best memories are made while playing in them, memories that will be passed on to the next generation.
While all the table and couch tents can easily be made with items you (or your mother in law) has at home, if you would like your very own Jog the Frog tee pee, these can be purchased directly from Clamber Club. Simply contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get yours.