Teacher Favorites: Dollhouses

Today I wanted to share my favorite “dollhouses” for encouraging creative play. I wanted to create a few posts in case you are a parent or grown up in a child’s life and are looking for gift ideas. These lists are also great for teachers who are looking to add more play into their curriculum and day.

Sometimes I let my daughter choose her toys…we go to a store or check out a website and let her chose something she’s drawn to. I will say, though, most of the time she chooses toys she plays with for a few minutes or a few days. The toys she comes back to are the ones I researched, and found toys that are well loved by kids and parents.

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What are the benefits of dollhouses?

Dollhouses are such a classic toy, and children have been playing with them for generations. It’s important to remember a “dollhouse” can look so many different ways. You definitely don’t need a fancy heirloom dollhouse to encourage your child to play. A cardboard box they painted can be just as effective!

Dollhouses encourage kids to

  • act out familiar or stressful scenarios
  • develop empathy
  • label feelings
  • use expressive language
  • strengthen creativity and imagination

There are so many benefits of having some sort of house for your child or students to play with! I wanted to share some of my favorites, but this is definitely NOT all of the great houses available. I encourage you to find one that works for your budget, size needs, and child’s interests.

Before I share my favorite dollhouses, I wanted to share some of my favorite dolls. The toys that we offer our students and children are a great way to start conversations around ethnicity and race, as well as body shapes and sizes, and family structures.

Little People

My daughter is only 3.5, but I’ve seen many 5 and 6 year olds still play with Little People. They’re sturdy enough to stand on their own, and are just really easy for kids to use. They come in many different races, ages, and professions too.

Peg Dolls

I absolutely love collecting wooden peg dolls. We use them in sensory bins, with magnetic blocks, and with dollhouses. Peg dolls stand up on their own, so kids don’t have to worry about posing them. Because they’re so simple, they lead to a lot of open ended play!

This is a beautiful set from Etsy, but there are lots of options. I really encourage you to seek out multi skin tones, and consider mixing them up as you’re building “families” for your dollhouses.

Peg dolls Set of 6 Bright Pastel Rainbow 2 3/8 height Peg image 1

You can find a lot of other types of dollhouse people. In my experience, some of them can be kind of tricky to “pose” and kids can get frustrated. For example, if they want their doll to ride on the bike the dollhouse comes with, but they keep falling over, they might get frustrated and move on. There’s NOTHING wrong with frustration, and it can often lead to some great thinking. But sometimes things are just annoying, and it makes the play more complicated than it needs to be. When you’re choosing dolls and accessories, I like to think about:

  • usability (will they be easy to move around the house?)
  • flexibility (are they very clearly dressed for a certain career, or could they be played with in multiple ways?)
  • diversity (do they show different races, genders, and family structures?

Classic Wooden Dollhouse

We’ve all seen a dollhouse like this! They’re classic, include multi levels, and encourage so many pretend and creative play.

I love this dollhouse from Hape, because it’s gender neutral. It’s expensive, but you can often find it for sale on Facebook. It’s also big enough for multiple children to play together at one time. The furniture and accessories are simple, and not too complicated. I also really love the stairs, and your child will love having their characters climb up to the next floor.

Dollhouse Bookcase

This is such a cool way to have a dollhouse for your child that functions as storage. For this, you’d just need to get some basic furniture. When they want to play with it as a house, have their furniture and dolls ready beside it. When they aren’t playing with it, it’s a great bookcase and storage unit.

For The Animal Lover

If your child or students are very interested in animals, you might consider a barn, stable or another type of “animal house.” They still offer the same type of play, but are presented in a different way.

I got this barn for my daughter, and it is well loved. Every child that comes over for a play date has so much fun with it. If you open the roof, it has the same sort of rooms that a more traditional dollhouse would offer.

I also really love the Timber Tots house from FatBrain. It’s compact, so great for small spaces and might be more appealing to younger kids.

Fold and Go Dollhouse

Not only are these dollhouses a great option for small spaces, they’re perfect for travel, restaurants, and more. You can bring your play outside with you, to the park, or more. They’re a wonderful option!

Firehouse

I really love these options, especially if a traditional dollhouse doesn’t grab your kiddo’s attention. They encourage the same type of play, just presented a little bit differently.

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