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If you’re stuck inside because of the weather, and you’ve got young kids with way too much energy, and your kids (or you) are about to flip a table, consider stashing them away.

In a corner.

By themselves.

One way to encourage your kids to entertain themselves is to create a cozy corner for them, a space where they can use their imagination and play. Here are three easy ways to make one:

The Ultimate Fort Builder, $50
Photo: Lakeshore Learning

Let your kids create a winter hideaway with The Ultimate Fort Builder. Gone are the days of sacrificing your furniture: This set comes with 45 poles and 25 connectors that snap together and can be assembled in a variety of configurations. Think of this as an exercise in developing their spatial awareness. Seriously — they’re not just building a fort; they’re also building the skills to excel in science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM). Once they’ve pieced together their structure, drape a blanket over it and — voila! — your kids can be transported to their own special world.

To keep the fun going, you can also level up: A solar-powered light like the Luci Original can make it feel like they’re camping outdoors. The lamp needs to be charged in the sun for 7 hours, but it means that you don’t have to worry that the kids will drain the battery of a flashlight.

Or weave a string of LED lights around the poles of the fort. These star string lights add a twinkling ambiance to the fort while these rainbow lights can make it feel like you’re in a fairy world.

My Very Own Cottage, $47
Photo: Amazon

Channel your kid’s artistic energy and have them decorate a cardboard playhouse such as My Very Own Cottage or a cardboard spaceship like the Fun Express Rocket Ship.

Best for preschool-aged kids, the cardboard house is essentially an enormous blank canvas, on which they can paint, color, scribble, add stickers, glue on sparkles — they can keep tweaking it and adding on to it whenever they feel the urge. Made of sturdy cardboard with cutouts for windows and doors, it is also perfect for indoor pretend play, from playing house to blasting off to the moon in the spaceship.


Best of all, once your kids have outgrown it or get tired of it, it doesn’t have to go in the landfill. The cardboard can be recycled (or repurposed).

Kiddie Play Fire Truck, $28
Photo: Amazon

If you’re short on space, a popup tent such as this firetruck or this castle can be stashed in the closet or under the bed when not in use. (Note that some popups are easier to put away than others. The castle, for instance, comes with poles that you’ll need to remove first).


Like the fort builder and the cardboard house, a popup tent creates an ideal space for imagination. They can be a firefighter in a firetruck, or a princess in a castle, or a princess in a firetruck — whatever floats their boat and keeps them busy.

Ellen Lee is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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