Timeless Fun at Home and in Nature!!

Published on October 09, 2020 - Updated on October 16, 2020

Amore Learning, Georgetown Events and happyly join forces for a four-week series designed to inspire wonderful memories for your family! In week two, let’s build forts!

Part One: Create With Amore Learning!

It is easy to see our surroundings the same way day after day, especially under the present circumstances. Our home has become both our office and our kids’ school, and might not feel like the sanctuary it once was. Some of my favorite memories from childhood include building forts, not only because of the enjoyment that comes from recreating a space but also because it provided me with a new hideaway where my imagination could flourish. As you may have seen on social media, we created a printable two-page PDF of this activity - click for Part One (at Home) and Part Two (in Nature).

This week, spend an hour with your children building forts - not just for them, for you too! 

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Creating your special, individual sanctuaries is a group activity enabling each person to practice being both leader and team member. If you are working on your child’s fort, they are the boss and you are on their team! What colors do they want adorning their new walls? What corner of the house or their room do they choose? What treasures and snacks do they want in the fort? 

When it’s time for your fort, they are a team member, and you can express your needs. Maybe Mommy wants a cool sign that says “Privacy Please” to display during important meetings or a suggestion box for dinner ideas. Perhaps Daddy wants a mailbox to pass notes when he is on a call or a strategically placed light that is illuminated when his home office is open for kiddo business. 

Get creative with your spaces! They don’t have to be the usual pillow/blanket forts of yore, (although they do the trick!). Make the space cozy and inviting. Think battery operated lights, textures and colors that soothe or inspire, noise machines or music, mini-whiteboards for signs, and shoeboxes for sending and receiving inter-family mail. 

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During a very snowy winter, my younger brother and father built a simple pulley system using a yo-yo, fishing wire, and shoe strings to deliver toys from his room upstairs to his new fort in the downstairs closet. The time spent building the pulley and fort together was half the fun, and my brother was entertained for days playing with the new invention. 

The shared time building these special spaces is a fun opportunity to bond with your children while nurturing their leadership and teamwork skills. It also helps define personal space and establishes a clear way to signal when it is necessary. Your child has a place to read their school work, Facetime a friend, or practice Solitaire, and a greater understanding of what it means to respect your space when you require full concentration.

I’ll be back next week to share an idea inspired by my classical acting training, so stay tuned, and please take pictures of those forts and share them with us!

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Classically trained actress, published illustrator, fine artist, personal trainer and Amore Learning Instructional Coach McLean Fletcher has some fun ideas for you and your kids this fall. McLean encourages you to practice seeing like an artist, or better yet, like a child - with curiosity, imagination, and hope. 

Part Two: Explore With Happyly!

After working together to design “creativity corners” for each member of your family, it’s time for some fresh air!! Building a fort is one activity that is equally fun indoors and out, so take your newly honed fort building skills to an amazing outdoor venue where you can exercise them further. Bring your camera to commemorate your adventure, as this special day of family time deserves a place in the memory books.

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Head north this week for a few hours in nature, and grab a picnic lunch at Jetties Bethesda on your way. Jetties is a member of the popular local family of restaurants, Georgetown Events, which specializes in concepts that parents are as eager to choose for their next meal as their kids are. I’m a huge fan of the Nobadeer (Thanksgiving in sandwich form) but there are so many amazing options for both adults and kids - check out the menu here.

Once you have your lunch in tow, continue less than fifteen minutes further to Locust Grove Nature Center. While the small Nature Center is closed due to Covid-19, the draw for my family has always been the outdoor Nature Exploration Area, which is open! This place is truly a gem, with a variety of creative outdoor activities, including a small stage for performing, jumping stumps, a frog pond, musical features, and of course, a place to build your own fort! 

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After getting your fort photo opp, jump on the trail beyond the pollinator garden and follow it through the woods to the Dinosaur Excavation Site, where you can follow instructions to hunt for buried fossils! There are miles of trails ahead, and you can continue your outdoor adventure on foot (there’s even a stream with a small sandy beach to wade through if the weather permits).. 

If time is limited or little legs are tired, just head back to the car and drive over to check out one of our favorite playgrounds in the DC area, located at Cabin John Regional Park. This park is way too cool to skip and it’s also an ideal place to break out your delicious lunch from Jetties!


Please tag your family's highlights on Instagram @gethappyly, @amorelearning, @georgetownevents, @duesouthdc and #gethappyly! We love hearing from you! 

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Enjoying our content? Please download the free happyly app, the country’s only mobile-first family activity planning app, for fast access to all of our frequent blog content, favorite activities, and expertly designed curated days, both locally and in many communities and travel destinations across the country.

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Amore Learning is a boutique education business offering creative enrichment programs, personalized tutoring, and consulting. Founded by fourth-generation Washingtonian Chloe Kaplan, the Amore team continues to grow and is now made up of fourteen teachers and curriculum coaches, and participates in over a dozen DC schools - half public and half private. In addition, Amore recently launched a non-profit component, A4A (Amore For All), which serves children who are distance learning from Title I schools.

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From its humble beginnings, Georgetown Events was built from the ground up, and has blossomed over the years with the help of the local community. Each establishment, with its unrivaled charm, captivates city natives and travelers alike with local cuisine and welcoming faces. No matter the destination, guests escape to a place where the drinks are cold, the food is fresh and new friends become family. While these flavors, faces and places may take you away in the moment, they will always bring you back.

Thoughtfully captured by:
Randi Banks
Randi (Betts) Banks grew up in New York and graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She moved to Washington, D.C. more than thirteen years ago with her husband, Eaghmon, and they love to explore the area and seek out adventure, now with their two young children along for the ride. Growing up right near the beach, they are happiest when on or near the water, so exploring the rivers, lakes, and streams in the greater DC area is a favorite pastime for their family. In addition to serving as one of the Washington, DC area ambassadors, Randi is also the Editor in Chief and Co-founder of happyly.
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