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Dollhouses to Grow Up With
A Toy For Stretching the Imagination
I finished constructing Chelsea's dollhouse this past spring, but the process of furnishing and finishing it may take years. I look forward to sharing this hobby with my small niece. There is something to be said for sharing a hobby -- almost any hobby -- across generations. There's an additional reason, though, that I think the dollhouse is worth the hours it took to build. I believe a dollhouse is an especially appropriate toy for stretching a child's imagination.
Walking into a Toys R Us can be an unsettling experience: aisle after aisle of toys and gadgets intended to capitalize on some trademark or another. Besides encouraging materialism and a "Keep up with (or play like) the Joneses" attitude, I suspect some of these toys actually stifle creativity. One of the problems with them is they're not open-ended enough - they're designed to be played with in only one way.
I view dollhouses, along with blocks and dress-up clothes and model towns, as real toys. By this, I mean not so much that they're traditional as that they're open-ended, the direction coming primarily from the child's own budding imagination, and not from Disney or Nickelodeon. What's more, these toys grow with the child, nurturing artistic skills as well as storytelling. My own childhood dollhouse was a tin contraption inherited from a much older cousin, and, while I sometimes longed for something fancier, I sure did get a lot of play out of it -- enacting stories and furnishing it as best I could. (I remember turning a refrigerator magnet right side to make a pan of brownies.)
Dollhouses For All Age Groups
Choosing an Appropriate Dollhouse for your Child
For a toddler or preschooler, I recommend a sturdy dollhouse, either wood or plastic, with chunky easy-to-handle furniture and accessories. If the child is in at least kindergarten -- and if the buyer wants the house as well as the hobby to grow with the child -- then I recommend that they go ahead and invest in a realistic dollhouse. However, they should look for one that's made of a durable material like medium density fiberboard or solid wood. (Punchout pywood is more likely to break with play, and may splinter a bit.)
Remember to check the age recommendations, especially if you have young kids. Toys with small parts -- or toys that could break and become small parts -- are not appropriate for the under three set. With this age group, durability is crucial in more ways than one.
Meet a Doll House Building Dad
This dollhouse building dad describes his hobby -- and his hope that someday his grandchildren too will play with his creations.
There are many fun freebies on the internet -- some for children, some appropriate for the serious collector.
This is a very popular site -- there are many printouts for kids, casual collectors. Look for movie posters, foldable crayon boxes, more.
- Jean Day Miniatures
You'll find a few stunningly realistic miniatures on this blog -- as well as instructions for fun projects.
- Jennifer's Wallpapers
Lovely printable wallpapers -- this page links directly to some vintage finds.
- Printable Furniture From Tripod
Fun for the elementary or middle grade child, these printable, foldable projects may also appeal to the casual collector.
- About.com Miniatures
Another source of well-designed printables, as well as project ideas.
Memory: Those Old Metal Dollhouses
Cousin Barbara is twelve years older than me, so that dollhouse I inherited probably dates back to the 60's. I entered "dollhouse 1960's" -- and the first picture I found... Well, it's been years since I saw its face, but I think I remember its features. This dollhouse is identical to the one I grew up with.
Something from your Childhood... in Miniature!
Miniature Betsy McCall paper dolls!
At 2, Callee Wants to Join Us... - But needs a lot of supervision!
The girls have candy bracelets.
Building A MDF Dollhouse
This MDF dollhouse is similar to Chelsea's. Watch it go up (way) faster than real time and (way, way) faster than hers did -- and see another smiling little girl..
Another Take on the Dollhouse
Here's another take on the dollhouse: a puzzle that your child (an older one!) somehow manages to piece together.
- Metal Dollhouse
Linking to the eBay ad!
Did you grow up with a dollhouse? Do your kids have one?