Play House

Playing house isn’t just something you do with your stuffed animals as a kid. When you’re in a relationship, it can also mean setting up IRL tea parties or spending every moment by your SO’s side. And while it might seem like couples are just playing house for the sake of it, psychologists say there’s a deeper meaning behind the action.

A playhouse is a structure children use for make-believe activities and can be as simple as an empty cardboard box or as elaborate as an entire backyard playhouse. Parents and educators are increasingly recognizing the importance of kids’ playhouses for building social skills, encouraging outdoor activity and boosting creativity and imagination.

The concept of a playhouse can vary, but it generally includes one room and a door on each side with a window in the top. Regardless of size and solidity, it’s a perfect platform for kids to exercise their independence while exploring new worlds, role-playing and developing problem solving skills.

Getting a kids’ playhouse doesn’t have to break the bank, either. Many DIY versions can be made from repurposed materials that would otherwise clutter a home or yard, such as old boxes, crates or even a garage door. In addition to the obvious benefits of a playhouse, these types of structures can also help improve children’s language and cognitive skills. As they act out the roles of “mom,” “dad” or “sister” while pretending to do household chores, they are learning and practicing new vocabulary words and identifying emotions.

Caryn Arnold and her husband Frank decided to convert an old garden shed into a playhouse for their two kids, 10-year-old Vivi and 7-year-old Jack. It wasn’t an easy project, but the results were worth it. The playhouse has become the focal point of the family’s daily life and provides a great place for the kids to let their imaginations run wild.

Before you start on the construction, it’s important to clean and prep the shed. Take out any junk that’s clogging up the space and give it a good power wash. Add some paint or a coat of textured exterior to give the shed more visual appeal.

Once the shed is clean and ready for its big debut, decorate it to give your child a sense of ownership. Hang a banner with the family name, write a welcome message or even add a map for directions. This will let your child know that this is their space and they can decide what to do next.

Once the kids have their playhouse, it’s important to provide them with some toys and props so they can get started on their role-playing and make the experience fun for everyone. Cardboard boxes, plastic crates and old furniture are excellent choices for creating the framework of a home, while dolls, stuffed animals and art supplies offer lots of ways for kids to express their creative side. Adding small touches, such as a red rotary phone and phone book or a few simple window boxes, helps to complete the look.