ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Kids Safe Rainy Day Play: "Houseboats"

Updated on March 19, 2020
Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren has taught pre-school through college. She loves the wonder of learning.


The pretend activity of "Houseboats" is totally free and safe inside your home.

It involves using furniture, blankets, and toys to create a new world and role play.

As with so many activities for preschoolers and early elementary age children, much of the time will be spent in organizing the structure and deciding rules, limits, and power hierarchy. This type of playing is safe, relatively quiet, and powered by the imagination.

If you "listen in" to your children from another room, your heart will be warmed by what they create and how they do it.


An ordinary couch with removable pillows
An ordinary couch with removable pillows

Simple Supplies

You may already have one of these around the house: a sofa which is not super fancy and not "just for company."

In the photo above, all eight cushions are removable. If you have a couch with some cushions permanently attached to the frame, bed pillows or cushions from a chair could be used to supplement the supply.

The idea is to use the cushions as building blocks for walls, ceilings, doors, and decks. In many ways, it is like LegosTM. Pillows can also be flagstaffs or telescopes or anything imaginable.

The floor is the pretend water - ocean, sea, river, rapids - whatever the children decide.

So, much of the fun is figuring out how to move about without touching the floor.

One Example of a Houseboat

One possible creation
One possible creation | Source

A Place to Hide and Dream and Play

One the absolute charms of this activity is that the child creates a secret space of her own.

This is magical!

A couch-made houseboat has

"hide-ability" behind its walls and

is KID-sized.

A five-year-old can curl up completely behind a single cushion, whereas an adult will stick out.

There is ultimate flexibility in what can be made and the cushions are light enough that no help from adults is needed. However, children may need a "kid buddy" to help hold one cushion in place while trying to put a roof piece on top. And this fosters cooperation, one of those skills we want our progeny to learn!

Also, as the children are manipulating the cushions, they learn how much of one block will need to rest on another to prevent falling. They learn about gravity, mass, and domino effect.

In college, they call this "physics."

Another Houseboat Idea

A few extra building materials
A few extra building materials | Source


How more beautiful can it get? If a cushion falls on a child, it is soft and light enough that no one is the least bit injured. Cushions falling onto each other, the couch frame, or the floor will not cause property damage.

Make sure your children clearly understand what rules you have about

jumping or not jumping and

where and how each is permitted.

With those rules and as long as the floor is clean (enough) and nothing is being thrown, no one is being wrapped up over nose and mouth, etc., this is safe, safe, safe.

Of course, check in as frequently as you must to keep it safe!

A Special and Secret Place

Peaceful reflection
Peaceful reflection | Source

Kids Need to Create

Children need to create.

It is so strong a need within them, that they may spend their entire playtime building and then undoing their houseboat to redesign a new one.

This is a wonderful a type of play. Even if they never get around to using the houseboat to act out a story.

Generation Tested

Playing houseboats with my sister and brothers whiled away many an enjoyable afternoon for me in my childhood.

I passed it along to my sons and it was equally great for them.

Now I try to teach my nieces and any others how to transform a sofa into an adventure.

I hope it will be a special activity for your children, too.

Wouldn't it be nice to be a child again, just to play houseboats?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Maren Elizabeth Morgan


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)