We have our teepee set up all of the time as a bit of a retreat for Ella. While it contains several emotional regulation tools (serving as a second peace corner in our home), it’s also often used in her imaginative play, as a reading nook, or even as a nap spot!
I love changing out the hanging silks every season, but I thought I’d embrace Ella’s current interest in mermaids (from reading some old Irish Fairy Tales) and create a Mermaid Teepee!
Whenever I set up an invitation to play, I try to use as many common items around the house to reinforce the idea that everyday items can be used in our play, and then I think the presence of those items around the house after the play is over reminds the children of those positive memories.
For this Mermaid Teepee set-up, I used:
- Two small trunk-like boxes for “treasure chests”
- Seashells and coral
- Throw pillows using my mermaid colour scheme of pink, blue, and grey
- Sheer fabric (homemade play silks) in pink, blue, and grey
- Soft throw rugs/bath mats
- Sea shell garland (I was going to make one by hot-gluing shells onto twine, totally forgetting that I already owned this pre-assembled one grabbed at a garage sale a couple of years ago… I have a hoarding problem)
- Two seashell bowls filled with goldfish
- Small wooden fish from a trip to Hawaii, attached with some mesh fabric
- Tortoise thumb piano
- Our teepee!
Because we did our mermaid teepee at night, I used two photography spot lights to “back light” the teepee and create an underwater feel.
I love to do special unveils when I create invitations to play, so I dressed Ella up in a Little Mermaid costume and told her we were going to go to bed and read some more mermaid stories. She thought just dressing up was pretty special and completely flipped out at her little mermaid teepee.
I also included a new book of 50 Magical Tales, which she discovered right away and insisted on reading.
I love that this mermaid teepee set-up was so simple and open-ended. I did have plans to hang some more wooden fish down the center of the teepee, but there was no room to add them after adding in four different sheets of fabric. I also love that it was done with materials we already had on hand and that those materials can be re-used in a variety of different ways. I think that sets a good example for Ella for when she goes to create her own play – we don’t need to go out to the store to create something, we can just be creative with what we already have!
We started off just reading our books and having a couple of snacks in our little mermaid fort, but Ella has since used it as a “home base” playing a game of mermaid tag with her friends, has filled the empty brown treasure trunk with various goodies (it would be fun to use it in a scavenger hunt), and made some mermaid jewelry. I also caught her combing her hair with a fork a la The Little Mermaid…
…we may have to do a full-fledged mermaid unit.
Do your children like to make forts? What kind of fort would you like to see us make?
This fort was made as part of the Fort Building Challenge over on Building Blocks and Acorns — check out the other forts in the challenge for some more inspiration!