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Play Houses & Pop Up Tents

All little girls and boys enjoy role play and having their own little house in which to act out their scenarios makes the role play all the more realistic. However, with so many different types of playhouses on the market, it can be difficult to decide what to buy.

 Children's playhouses range from small pop up tents, often character-based, to large wooden playhouses that can become a long standing feature of the back garden. Which type to choose can depend on the age of the child, the amount of money to be spent, how long it needs to last and where it is going to go. There is little point in buying a pop-up play palace for a six-year-old girl who will outgrow it quickly and similarly, parents may not want to spend hundreds of pounds on a large wooden house that may take up a lot of space in the garden and will need regular maintenance. 

Placeholder imageThe cheapest options are pop-up tents, fabric tents or Wendy houses. Pop-up tents do just that – once they are taken out of their packaging they pop up into shape. They come in all sorts of shapes, such as castles, wigwams and cars and are ideal for toddlers. They are often based on popular children's TV or film characters, which can help to fire the child's imagination. They are very lightweight and portable, although it can take practice to pop them down again and they need to be treated with some care, as the fabric can tear. 

 Fabric tents and Wendy houses are also great for small children and can be used indoors or outdoors. They have a basic frame made from aluminium poles and are usually easily constructed and deconstructed. They can be more elaborate and larger than the pop-up tents but again, care needs to be taken that the fabric does not get torn. 

There are many shapes and sizes of plastic playhouses for both boys and girls. These are usually brightly coloured and have many internal and external features, making them ideal for role play and games. They are usually intended for outdoor use and are targeted at toddlers and small children. They are much more robust than the fabric tents and are consequently more expensive and may take some construction.

Grey Castle Playhouse with Turrets and Arched Windows and orange Slide At the top end of the children's playhouse range are the wooden playhouses. These can range from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds in price, but are generally larger and more attractive than the plastic playhouses and can last a child for years. There are different styles, such as cottages for girls, army playhouses for boys and playhouses on stilts and they come in many different sizes. The cheaper models may need constructing and painting, whereas the more expensive playhouses will tend to be already painted and are often constructed on site by the supplier. Wooden playhouses can become an attractive feature of a garden for many years, but they need care and regular maintenance to prevent the wood from rotting.

On the other end of the scale a large sheet, some pegs and the back of the sofa, chairs or large clothes airer can become the best 'play house' or den that your kids can enjoy - throw in some cushions, a few soft toys and finger food and you won't see them for some time.