Not only is a playhouse good for young children, it can also make a big difference to the mental and physical well-being of older children. We can all agree that many children don’t spend enough time in the fresh air away from their screens. These outdoor playhouses for older children are sure to make your backyard even more enticing for them and their friends. From simpler styles to ones with lots of bells and whistles, these seven outdoor playhouses (and one indoor playhouse) will help your kids develop their social skills, get physical activity, and get some much-needed vitamin D. And all while they’re doing it I just think they’re having fun.
A playhouse is often a place where a child can retreat and take a little break from the adult world. It’s easy to find a playhouse for a small child. Companies like Lil Tikes make all sorts of molded plastic houses that can entertain the preschool setting. However, for an older child aged six to ten or older, finding a place to retreat to can be more challenging.
What Types of Playhouses Are Most Popular for Older Children?
Some of the most exciting playhouse designs include:
The cardboard house
Back when there were coolers, it was easy to build a playhouse out of cardboard. However, as packaging has become an environmental concern, such items are becoming less available. Manufacturers and retailers have filled this gap by developing the painting playhouse. The box is already configured like a playhouse, but the decoration can be provided by the child or other interested parties. Some houses have outlines drawn on the house, while others are simply blank, waiting for a creative hand.
From bed tents to actual camping gear, there are few kids who wouldn’t love fabric walls to retreat to when siblings or parents just get too much. A tent is easy to set up and can be folded up for storage when not in use. Themed tents such as a log cabin or princess pavilion can create a place for role play.
The Jungle Gym
Many backyard playsets include a small “house” as part of their swing, slide and exercise setup. Such places offer school-age children the opportunity to role-play while stretching their muscles. The set may have a theme, but children will often incorporate their own interpretations, so the structure can become a pirate ship, a fortress or even a spaceship.
The little house
Young people approaching their teens, or even some teenagers, appreciate a rainproof building to retreat to. If equipped with appropriately sized furniture, it can be a place to store a journal, a few favorite toys, or even a craft project or two. It is the safe escape from parental supervision (at least nominally) where elaborate fantasies arise and dreams can be dreamed.
The house itself can be a log cabin, a quaint cottage, or even a converted storage building. Equipped with a folding foam couch, a table and a chair, as well as some shelves for favorite items where your child often finds refuge.
Similar to the small house, a tree house is a place of retreat. It can also be a place to play pirates or pilot a spaceship, or any number of other alternate realities that can be reenacted in an afternoon. The beauty of a treehouse is that it stands above everything, out of reach of younger siblings who don’t climb, or simply out of sight of parents and therefore hopefully out of their minds. (The wise parent knows this and allows the illusion of independence to flourish in this way.)
How do you make sure the playhouse is safe?
In addition to ensuring that the playhouse complies with national product safety standards, also ensure that the structure has no sharp corners or protruding objects, especially at head height. Watch out for gaps where your children could fall through or stick their heads in. If there are swings or climbing walls, check them regularly for safety hazards.