why dollhouses?

Think dollhouses are just playing with dolls? Little did I know that playing with a dollhouse was actually building essential life skills, including the highly esteemed STEM skills!

Assembling (albeit poorly at first) my own dollhouse kit, ‘building’ some furniture, ‘laying’ shingles, laying my own carpet, flooring and wallpaper, to name a few things – was actually teaching me about architecture, math and design, fostered creativity, and helped build my confidence.

Women are nearly half of the US workforce but only 27% of stem workers

United States Census Bureau

Since then I have moved on to activities bit more real-life scale – but the common thread is that I’m willing to try things I’ve never done before. From baking a souffle for the first time, re-wiring a light, mixing concrete, refinishing an antique desk or sewing a dress, it all started with trying to make my own things in miniature.

My dollhouse also seemed to live in an unusually high disaster zone: tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes often struck my poor long suffering dollhouse family, but they were a plucky bunch and enjoyed frequent remodeling updates!

A properly chosen dollhouse provides:

  • An outlet for future engineers
  • Opportunity to explore circuitry and construction
  • Introduction to architecture and design
  • Develop fine motor skills
  • Expand social skills and emotional intelligence
  • Encourages imaginative play
  • All this learning and it’s still FUN!

Growing up there were so many building style toys for boys, but not so much for enticing girls to the world of STEM. Although, all kids love miniatures!

“…science and technology occupations, particularly in engineering and computer science, are among the highest-paying and fastest-growing occupations”

STATS Canada

I loved my dollhouse. It was a Victorian, assemble yourself, wood dollhouse with window casings, stairs, and shingles. I spent hours making my own flooring, painting, wallpapering, assembling stairs and making my own furniture (lots of fails but it was fun), sewing curtains and making clay kitchen ware.

Skill Development Expanded


Build your own style dollhouses provide the platform for introducing these skills to any kid. It’s not just about playing with dolls.

Age-appropriate dollhouse kits allow for creativity with design and construction (like assembling wood parts) and the painting or wallpapering or flooring; there are basic to mid-level very low voltage wiring kits.

You learn about design and architecture as you see the pieces fit together – some things must be put together a certain way for the building to be solid, but other things (like what shingles to use) can offer creativity with some art and design.

There are endless possibilities – build the framework of a basic dollhouse, and you can add window casings, fences, gates, gardens, counters, flooring – these things often require math for measurements, and so forth.

Emotional Development

Playing offers children opportunities to explore real-life situations, emotions and dynamics in a way they feel safe. Acting out everyday situations like arguments and cooking helps children rehearse and understand life in the world.

Issues and problems encountered in real life can be processed and acted out through a dollhouse family, where emotions and difficulties can be explored and discovered on a small scale.

Social Skills

Learning to play and share with your siblings, other children (and even their parents sometimes), is an essential skill for life in getting along with people. Cooperating, sharing, playing side by side and interacting area all ways kids learn through playing with a dollhouse.

A free flow of conversation, idea exchanges and different perspectives (like offering opinions on how to decorate or settle doll-family disagreements) all occur through this fun play.

Spatial Awareness and Fine Motor Skills

Learning where to place furniture so that the door of the fridge doesn’t hit the table, or the toilet is placed where you can reach the toilet paper, helps children to understand the position of things in space.

Moving parts (like opening little doors) or placing people and items around the house (like setting a tiny table), requires delicate hand-eye coordination, and muscle control.

How to Choose?

There are many dollhouses available, and much depends on your child’s age, interest and aptitude, as well as your budget and intent (temporary interest or long term goals)

We sorted through some easily obtainable options, from toddlers to older kids, for suggestions on how to choose, why certain features are beneficial, and what to look for when selecting a house for your,

See the article Dollhouses and Miniatures

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