Cubbyhouses: why they’re good for children
Cubbyhouses are a great way for children to enjoy imaginative play and role play. For example, a simple cubbyhouse can turn into all sorts of places – a shop, hospital, school, castle and much more.
Also, making or building a simple cubbyhouse encourages children to think creatively and solve problems.
And a cubbyhouse can be a safe place for children to spend quiet time alone with their thoughts.
What you need to make a cubbyhouse
You can build a cubbyhouse using things around your home. Here are ideas:
- Build a tent using chairs placed back to back, 1-2 metres apart, with a sheet or blanket hung over the top. You can use pillows to hold the edges to the floor so the cubbyhouse doesn’t collapse.
- Hang a blanket over a table.
- Tie a rope between 2 very stable objects, with a sheet draped over the rope, to make a tent. You can set up this type of cubbyhouse between 2 trees or across the corner of a balcony that’s safe for your child to play on.
- Use a big cardboard box with holes cut out for doors and windows. Your child can paint or decorate it.
If you’re using ropes and furniture to make a cubbyhouse, be aware of strangulation and suffocation risks, as well as the risk of furniture toppling over.
How to play with cubbyhouses
- Decide what sort of cubbyhouse to make and then build it with your child. Be led by your child’s ideas. For example, ask your child where to put the cubbyhouse. Or if you’re cutting out windows from a cardboard box, see whether your child can mark where they want the windows.
- When the cubbyhouse is ready, encourage your child to set it up the way they want it. Your child might like to bring some pillows, toys and books into the cubbyhouse.
- Encourage your child to make the cubbyhouse into an imaginary place, like a fort, ship, office and so on. You could help your child to find supplies and equipment from the toy box or the kitchen.
- Have fun together. A cubbyhouse is a good place for having imaginary adventures or sharing a quiet story.
- Give your child time to play in the cubbyhouse alone, if that’s what they want. Some children really enjoy having a special private space that’s just for them.
Some children might be more interested in playing with the cubbyhouse than building it, and that’s OK.
Adapting cubbyhouse play for children of different ages or children with diverse abilities
Your younger child might enjoy crawling in and out of the cubbyhouse and peeking out at everybody. It’s best to follow your child’s lead and enjoy the play.
Your older child might want something more complicated than a simple sheet over a table. Your child can also take an active role in designing and constructing the cubbyhouse. For example, you could work together to join a few large boxes.
All children learn and develop through play. Our articles on play and autistic children and play and children with disability are great starting points for adapting this activity guide for children with diverse abilities. You might also like to explore our activity guides for children with diverse abilities.