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Are you looking for outdoor playhouses for your kids?
Both Step 2 playhouse and a Little Tikes playhouse are common options.
Playhouses can encourage imaginative play and spark your children’s creativity.
Why is imaginative play important to child development?
Importance of imaginative play to child development
Imaginative Play (Pretend Play) is important to child development in a number of ways.
1. Social development
First of all, it has the greatest impact on the development of key skills. When your kids engage in creative play with friends, they learn to co-operate with each other. Imaginative play encourages your kids to participate in social activities and help them understand social relationships.
For example, when your kids are playing in playhouses, they play as if they are visiting their friends, cooking for guests, having a party, etc. They take up different roles in the imaginative play. This helps them understand the roles of guests, hosts, shop owners, etc.
Taking on different roles allows children the unique opportunity to learn social skills such as communication, problem solving, and empathy (Hughes, 1999).
2. Emotional development
Imaginative play can help kids express their own feelings. They are understand both negative and postitive feelings.
3. Problem solving skills
Imaginative play provides a lot of opportunities for kids to try out different new ideas, ways of thinking and solve different problems.
For example, when they are playing with a toy cashier, they may have to think about the roles. ‘Who will be the cashier?’ ‘Who will be the customer?’
When they are playing in the playhouse, they may create different roles, e.g. one kid will be the host, the other will be the neighbours, etc. Or they have to look for extra toys to use for the food in the playhouse. Or use different materials to use for a chair, etc.
4. Language development
Imaginative play encourages your kids to pick up new vocabulary quickly and practise new words. E.g. When they are playing in the playhouse, they can act in different scenarios and re-act stories they read before. Through playing with peers, they imitate others to express their feelings. This fosters their language development.
5. Developing creativity and imaginative skills
Imaginative play sparks your kids creativity and imaginative skills. During imaginative play, they have to come up with some new and fun scenarios and act them out. For example, when they are playing in the playhouse, they can create their own imaginative world and objects. Sometimes they can use different toys or materials in their playhouses to expand their play and add additional fun.
The following playhouses are some of the better options I would recommend.
1. step2 Playhouse Neat & Tidy Cottage
Suitable for 1.5 – 5 years old
If you like Step 2 playhouse, I would recommend this one and the second one. This one is the most popular Step 2 playhouse on Amazon.
With so many features, such as the door bell, the built-in kitchen area, your kids can enjoy imaginative play in different scenarios. Your kids can play with open and close the windows, pretend talking on the phone, visiting his/ her friends by ringing the door bell. They can also use the kitchen set and have an outdoor play grill.
I like the small seat (near to the sink), your kids can sit there and pretend cooking food. Also, the area is enough for 2-3 kids to play inside and move around. But it’s not too big, you can put this inside your house and teachers can put it in classroom.
Another interesting feature which I like a lot is the doorbell. It actually rings but it is not too loud.
Many parents said their kids particularly like the swinging door and shutters on the window.
The colour is gender-neutral, so it’s suitable for both boys and girls. It can also fit your backyard without looking too odd.
Dimension: 46.5 x 35 x 51.2 inches
Maximum weight on seat: 35 lbs. (15.88 kg)
- Built-In Kitchen
- Flower Box
- Play Phone
1. It’s very easy to set up. (Takes less than 1 hour)
2. It’s made of sturdy materials. It can withstand sunlight and rain.
3. There is a built-in floor. Even in the rainy days, your kids can still play in the house without getting dirty.
4. The size is big enough for 2-3 young kids to move around.
1. AA batteries are required.
2. It’s better to create a few drain holes on the floor.
3. Your kids cannot be more than 36 in high to stand up in it.
Check the price
2. Step2 Neat and Tidy II Playhouse
This is another popular Step 2 playhouse on Amazon. This one is almost the same as the previous one. But the rooftop colour is different.
Inside Dimension: 44″ wide, 26″ deep, 48″ tall (at the peak)
Maximum weight on seat: 35 lbs. (15.88 kg)
3. Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse
Suitable for Age 1.5-4
If your daughter likes pink, this playhouse can be a more suitable choice.
The Differences between the Step 2 Playhouse and this one, you can refer to the below table.
About the size, this one is smaller than the previous Step 2 playhouse.
And this Little Tikes Playhouse does not have built-in floor.
However, I like the modern design of this one, it looks like a real house.
Product Dimensions: 35 x 43 x 49 inches
The door was about 18-20 inches, the opening was 35-40 inches.
The measurement of the inside of the house: About three feet square
1. It’s easy to assemble.
2. It’s cheaper than Step 2 Playhouse.
3. It’s sturdy.
4. It’s easy to move.
1. Size is a big small. Better for smaller size kids.
1. How to assemble? Click this website.
4. Little Tikes Cape Cottage, Tan
Suitable for age 1.5-4
Product Dimension: 42.8 x 35 x 49 inches Inside : 38″ wide X 30″ high (48″ at center peak)
The door height opening is 38 inches.
This Little Tikes Playhouse is slightly smaller than Step 2 Playhouse. The dimension of the first Step 2 Playhouse is 46.5 x 35 x 51.2 inches.
This one is colour-neutral. So it’s suitable for both your girls and boys. The design of this one is more contemporary than Step 2 Playhouse.
Price not on Sale: $129.99
1. It’s durable and sturdy. (made of thick plastic)
2. Neutral colour.
3. Easy to assemble.
4. Relatively cheaper than Step 2 Playhouse
1. 38 – 40″ tall would be comfortable in the play house.
What are the differences among these best selling playhouses? See the below Table.
5. Step2 893199 Seaside Villa Playhouse
Product Dimension: 38 x 40.5 x 45 inches. Height: Approximately 45 “
Price: $149.99 (not on sale)
Suitable for Age 1-5
This Step 2 Playhouse is less popular than the above 4 playhouses. It is relatively smaller than other Step 2 Playhouses. This playhouse does not contain shutters on the windows. Comparing the features, this one has an extra sitting bench outside the playhouse. And it’s a bit more expensive.
If you are not a big fan of fancy, tacky colours, you may like its simple styling and soft colors.
Your kids can pretend to be the mailman and delivery packages. Or they can use the kitchen and play as if they are inside a fast food restaurant, selling food. I like its classy style.
front lamp post
1.Very easy to assemble. (Within an hour) The instructions are clear and easy.
2. It is sturdy.
3. Added feature: Sitting bench
4. It’s lightweight. Easy to move.
1. The mail slot doesn’t actually fit letter size envelopes.
1. A drilled is needed when you assemble it.
6. Step2 Sweetheart Playhouse, Pink and White
Suitable for Age 2-6
Product Dimension: 53 x 47 x 58 inches
The interior of the house is intended for children 55.5 inches at its tallest point.
The height of the full-sized door is 40.5 inches tall.
If you have daughters who love princess and pink colour. You may consider between this one and the Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse. I definitely like the fine details of this one more than Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse. And there are more features as well. But the price of Little Tikes one is more reasonable.
This Step 2 Playhouse is bigger than Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse, but it’s a lot more expensive.
Since this one is bigger than Little Tikes one, your daughters can play with this one for more years.
- a full-sized door
- working shutters
- decorative roof with skylight
- decorative heart shaped flower pot
- Convertible table top flips over to become a pretend outside barbecue grill with clicking knobs
- Clock with movable hands
- Electronic doorbell and phone
The barbecue grill outside the house, makes it really fun for outside play as well with cute play patio chairs/table set. There is a lot of space to store play dishes and other play items on the table.
1. Big enough for 3-4 kids to play inside.
2. It’s durable.
3. Cute and beautiful design
4. A lot of added features.
1, The instructions are unclear. There are no words just pictures.
1. AA and AAA batteries are needed for the phone and door bell.
A comparison Between Step2 Playhouse Neat & Tidy Cottage, Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage and Step 2 Sweetheart Playhouse.
For the other playhouses which are rated below 3 stars on Amazon, I don’t really recommend them. For example, Backyard Discovery Timberlake All Cedar Wood Playhouse and KidKraft Modern Outdoor Playhouse.
They are relatively less value for money and less durable. Also some customers found them hard to assemble.
If you are looking for a more durable playhouse and don’t mind higher price, opt for Step 2 Playhouse because your kids can play for more years.
If your girls are fond of princess style and you prefer something cheaper, Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse is the best choice.
If you are looking for cheaper options, the above 2 Little Tikes Playhouses are better choices.
If you prefer more features, Step2 893199 Seaside Villa Playhouse and Step 2 Sweetheart Playhouse are suitable for you.