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It’s snow fort season—here’s everything you need to do it right

Winter has never been so much fun

An illustration of four children building a snow fort out of snow bricks Credit: Reviewed / Pete Ryan

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Whether you’re in Massachusetts or Minnesota, winter is upon us. Sure, it’s your annual right (and rite) to bemoan the icy roads and negative temperatures, but, this year, you can put a more positive spin on Mother Nature’s frosty demeanor by jumping knee-deep in the snow.

Yes, we mean this literally. It’s snow fort season! Have you built one recently with your kids? Maybe you remember building one as a kid yourself? It’s a fantastically fun activity—much better than snow shoveling—no matter your age, and it gets you moving on days when it’s nigh impossible to go for a run or get to a gym.

Follow along for our tips on how to build a snow fort and what types of tools you’ll need!

How to build a snow fort

At left, a girl in a blue coat stands in front of a wall made of snow bricks; at right, a boy and a girl peek out of a cave made of snow
Credit: Getty Images / Mkovalevskaya / naumoid

There are a few ways to create the walls of your snow fort: Use snow bricks or oversized snow balls, or you can dig a cave in piled snow.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve built a snow fort yourself, or you have little ones who need direction, here are the basics on how to build a snow fort.

Make a plan and map it out

First off, it’s best if you have heavy, wet snow, rather than the dry flaky stuff. Just like sand, the stuff that’s more wet, stays put better.

Find a flat area in your yard and map out a space for the fort. It can be big, small, rectangular, round—whatever you want. The important thing here is to use a stick or a pointy object to trace an outline in the snow.

Start building

Once you know where your snow fort is going to go, you can start building. There are a few ways to create your walls: snow bricks, oversized snow balls, piled snow.

To create snow bricks, you can use a form—anything from old Tupperware to an actual snow brick maker. Alternatively, to make snowballs, roll snow in a path to create large-size snow balls, like you would if you were making a snowman. Lastly, if you already have a huge pile of plowed snow at the top of your driveway or elsewhere in the yard (though not near the street) you can just start digging it out to create more of a snow cave than a fort.

Then, you’ll want to start stacking the snow bricks or snow balls in rows, alternating where they break, like you would using real bricks, or, maybe, Legos. Depending on how detail-oriented you are, you can sculpt, smooth, or flatten your snow-brick walls using a spade or trowel.

Make a roof—or not

Consider whether you want an open or closed roof to your snow fort. If you want a roof that’s closed over, you may want to take the digging-a-snow-cave or igloo approach. But, if you have your heart set on building with snow bricks, you can always just throw a tarp over your structure when done.

Apply finishing touches

Finally, if you have plans to keep your snow fort around for a while, spray it down with a mist setting on your garden hose to really ice up the walls. The water will melt the snow a bit and then refreeze, creating an impenetrable snow fortress!

What you need to build a snow fort

Now that you’re prepared to let the good times roll as the flakes fall, you’ve got to stock up on the tools that will make it all happen.

If you have zero snow tools on hand at home, you can consider investing in a snow fort building kit. While these vary by maker, most include the essentials that you’ll need.

We love The Ultimate Snow Kit from Unplugged Explorers. For just about $30, it includes a brick maker and a snow claw for digging, as well as two snowball makers for having fun after your fort is built. There’s also a scoot sled that you can sit on to keep your tush off the cold ground.

Flexible Flyer also boasts a snow fort building kit, and this one is entirely focused on brick making. The kiddos will have three options to choose from: a large block, a medium brick, and a castle tower to add medieval flair. If your kids would rather the King Arthur era full-on, the Create a Castle Pro Tower Kit features three large sizes of split tower molds, as well as a few tool accessories for adding details.

If you’d rather piecemeal a kit together or you have some snow fort tools but not others, no worries. You can buy items individually based on your need and whim. Of course, you’ll want a brick maker mold or a set of many, depending on how big your brood is, trowels, shovels for scooping and claws for pulling snow.

At the end of the day, it can’t be all work and no play. Personalize that fort with graffiti or cave drawings with colorful snow markers, and then create a snowball arsenal for any impending invaders (i.e. Dad). Once the kids have their ammunition, an absolute must is a snowball slingshot—if you dare. And you should!

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