Blog

 A Touch of Dutch  --- the house that Anne built

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When we moved to Amsterdam in 2007 with two small children, the last thing we thought we’d come home with was a business idea. Huisje means ‘little house,’ and the idea stemmed from the iconic canal houses of our adopted city.

Space saving design

If you’ve ever taken a walk around Amsterdam’s canal district, it’s hard not to be inspired by the impressive houses that line the banks. They were built in the 17th Century and, even back then, space was at a premium. As more and more people flooded the city thanks to an economic boom, the government handed out parcels of land. And they were pretty generous, too. The thing was, starting at 5.5m wide, they were unusually narrow.

The tall, narrow design of our Huisje Kind dollhouse is a space saver, too. We know that lots of families are making due with less space than they’d like. That’s why it’s so important to us that our dollhouses pack away easily. Our Matryoshka (or ‘Russian doll’) design means that when the kids are finished playing, they can stow their dollhouse and furniture neatly away.

Unique Dutch flavour

There is nothing ordinary about the canal district in Amsterdam. Indeed, people travel from all over the world to check it out. The clean lines of the canal house, as well as Dutch minimalism, were front of mind when we came up with the first prototype.

Our focus was on sustainability when we made the first ever Huisje Design out of cardboard boxes that we collected from our local supermarket. With the prototype under our belts, we set about producing them. Made from 100% corrugated cardboard and self-adhesive vinyl that we painstakingly assembled at our kitchen table, they were gorgeous — but way too labour intensive.

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Long live local

As we worked to address the production process, we focused on supporting local businesses. We searched high and low to find different materials, joins, and laser cutting techniques.Finally; we landed on the magic combination of wood, glue, and tenon joints. We were off 

Now that we’re back in Australia, Huisje Designs are made from sustainably sourced Forest Stewardship Council poplar. Production, wherever possible, takes place in Melbourne, Australia.

We’re so proud of the result. Thanks to years of research, we now produce locally-made, sustainably built dollhouses that are durable, beautiful, and (most importantly!) so much fun to play with.

A family affair

Our daughters, Maya and Jasmine, grew up surrounded by tiny tables and chairs, scraps of fabric, cardboard and wood samples. They were helpful product consultants throughout their young lives. And we believe that the countless hours they spent playing pretend have contributed to them becoming smart, creative, driven young women

As we watched the girls play, we realised that our product was ideal in so many scenarios, including childcare centres, play therapy, and in the home. Appealing to kids of all ages and gender-neutral, we wanted kids everywhere to be able to experience the magic of Huisje.

So we created the kit home. More accessible to families, it is a blank slate. Décor and assembly are part of the fun and the kit home is ready for whatever your child ( or Mum / Dad)  throws at it. We also added the Huisje Nude, which is made of 100% recycled cardboard.

From Amsterdam to you

We have learnt so much from this design and production process. Most importantly, it made the importance of free, imaginative play for kids even more clear to us. From social and language skills to creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking, children don’t even realise all the good it’s doing them.


 

 

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 The benefits of play are well known.

Play:-

  •  boosts cognitive abilities,
  •  improves physical strength,
  •  fosters a sense of belonging,
  •  and develops problem-solving skills. 

When it comes to kids, all play is good play. But there are a few key types of play that can really get your pre-schooler’s brain and imagination firing. Let’s take a closer look.

Social play

When it comes to pre-schoolers, socialising can be a bit of a minefield. Parents worry that their child won’t share, that they’ll be aggressive, get overwhelmed, or say something rude. This anxiety can lead to play that is micro-managed by parents, which isn’t much fun for anyone.

The thing is, when kids are left to their own devices, they’ll usually work out any social kinks. And working those kinks out is really good for them. When kids play make-believe with friends or siblings, they enter a kind of social contract.

If the kids agree that the floor, for example, is lava, they’ll sooner jump from couch  to couch than burn in an imaginary molten pool. This agreement gives them practice negotiating rules and guidelines as well as following them. Working together to decide on the framework for play, deciding what to do when someone ‘breaks’ the rules, and being flexible about potential future changes give kids vital practice for school and beyond.

Creative play

Creative children are most likely to grow into excellent critical thinkers, so even if you shudder at the thought of paint and glitter through the house, we recommend giving it a go. The benefits of creative play are amazing: cutting, gluing and painting have important fine motor benefits that get little hands ready to hold a pencil. But creative play also teaches kids early maths skills, like geometry, shapes and sorting.

Making decisions about materials and artistic style are beneficial as well. Mixing colours and experimenting with different mediums boosts confidence and resilience. If something doesn’t go to plan, kids learn that ‘mistakes’ are not the end of the world. In fact, they’re a necessary part of any creative project.

Imaginative play

When kids engage in imaginative play, they consolidate the skills that they’ve observed in the real world. Through role-play, kids get a boost in creativity, problem solving and self-regulation skills. Not only that, dressing dolls and setting up furniture is great for fine motor development. 

In imaginative play, the conventional rules don’t apply, so a child can pretend they’re a wizard, a dinosaur, or just about anything, really. There aren’t many things in their real life that kids are in charge of, so providing lots of time for unstructured imaginative play helps them form a sense of agency in an uncertain world. 

Socio-dramatic play

When kids play house, shops or school, they develop some important skills. Their imagination gets a workout, of course, but they also practice social and language skills. Not only that, by creating imaginary families, characters and situations, they learn how to operate in the real world. 

When children play in this way, what they’re really doing is consolidating all of the skills they’ve learned through observation. Interacting with a shopkeeper, for example, is something they’ve watched their parents do. The rituals associated with mealtimes, leaving for a holiday, getting out the door in the morning – all of these are turned into socio-dramatic play for busy-brained kiddos. So when the time comes, they’ll know just what to do in real life. 

Socio-dramatic play is considered the most advanced form of play. Using skills like storytelling, cooperation, imagination, social interaction, character development and role play, children create amazing worlds where just about anything is possible. These worlds are fluid and dynamic, honing skills like thinking ahead, conflict resolution and negotiation.

The work of childhood

Psychologist Jean Piaget described play as ‘the work of childhood,’ because it is essential to kids’ health, development and well-being. Getting stuck into all kinds of play is just what kids do. And the benefits of play stay with them through life.

At Huisje Design, our sustainable, stackable wooden play houses encourage the kind of unstructured, imaginative play that kids need each day. Kids can get creative with paints and fabrics, too — making every house truly unique. And our gender neutral, multi-functional toys grow with your kids, making the work of childhood just a little more fun.


       

 

How To Make A Draobdrac Person.

By Maya Donaldson

You will need:-

1 X Toilet roll

Stick tape

Black marker

Wool

Fabric

Thread 

Needle 

Scissors 

Glue

Materials to make Draobdrac person

Step 1. 

First you have to cut your toilet roll down one side. Then adjust its height and width to the size you want and stick it with sticky tape.

 

Toilet roll

 

Toilet roll - cut

 

Step 2. 

Secondly using your marker draw a face on the toilet roll.

 

Toilet Roll Face

Step 3. 

To make the hair you have to make a pom-pom out of any colour wool. To put the hair on, take the bottom of the pom-pom and stick it to the inside of the roll.

Toilet roll with hair

Step 4. 

Of course you will need some clothes for your Draobdrac person. To make some clothes you have to decide what type of pattern or fabric you are going to use.

Also you need to decide if you are going to make a dress or T- shirt and pants. To make it easy for you to take on and off the pants and the top you can stick them together.

Seeing that the Draobdrac people don’t have arms and hands you don’t have to make sleeves.

Draobdrac person - Toilet Roll

Step 5. 

After you have finished, you can make numerous people to put on display. 

 

Draobdrac People  - Toilet Roll

 

You can also check out my How to video on youtube as well as the Hunfkin's Holiday video below.

How To Make A Draobdrac Person - Video

Italy - Draobdrac. -- "Positano we have a problem"

What are Dolls Houses?

Dolls houses are miniature homes for dolls and have been around for millennia. Where did dollhouses come from? - nobody really knows. There are, however, reports that Egyptians built them to represent all the valued possessions attained through their lives. The prevailing expert opinion suggests that these miniature homes were made for religious reasons.

Today’s modern dolls houses date back to 16th century Europe. These dolls houses were built by wealthy individuals as cherished replicas of their family home. An excellent novel, "The Miniaturist" by Jessie Burton, was inspired by Petronella Oortman's doll's house, which is on display at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. A fantastic read I can highly recommend.

It was in the 18th century that the modern concept of dolls houses as toys became fashionable. These early dolls houses were handmade - essentially do-it-yourself dolls houses, but with the advent of the industrial revolution they become mass produced, making them more affordable for the average person

The major benefit of mass production was that they were no longer only for the wealthy or collectors - they became toys for children. Dolls houses can now be found in children’s playrooms, kindergartens & crèches around the world, along with doll’s house furniture and miniature toys.

A dolls house allows children to mimic real life and is a form of symbolic play that allows for control, exploration and gradual understanding of life in a safe environment.

 

box room montage

 

What is the Right Age for a Doll house?

Dolls houses provide children the opportunity to have fun, be creative and enjoy imaginative role-play. They are an excellent resource to aid in developing social, language and fine motor skills. Children should be encouraged to develop their creativity & imagination.

The Swiss psychologist, Jean Piagot, was famed for his pioneering research into childhood development. His theory of cognitive development is based on the concept of stages that describe development as a sequence of four stages.

pgchollet piaget stages of development

Source: Haartfelt

According to Piaget’s theory, children at the age of two start to use props and other objects to further enhance their playing experiences and their understanding of the world. But remember, any dolls houses provided at that age will need to be unbreakable and have no small parts that could be a choking hazard.

At around 3 to 4 years of age children begin imaginative play and making friends with other children. They start to play more cooperatively in small groups. Dolls houses are great way to encourage sharing and collaboration at this age.

Some would say that school age (6 to 12 years) and upwards is the ideal age for a dolls house, as children have started to transition away from their egocentric way of thinking - where everything prior to school was about them - to a more mature, perceptive, and imaginative and social way of thinking. At school age a dolls house helps a child to fully develop their cognitive and motor skills, their communication and language skills, and their nurturing and caring skills. In turn, this helps them better manage their perspective of the world around them and helps makes them more socially and emotionally balanced.

But let’s not forget that doll houses are not just for children. Building dolls houses is a popular hobby for adults too; it can be a challenging and creative activity that allows for total freedom of creative expression. Dolls houses are perfect for people who love craft and interior design – anything is possible when creating a beautiful original home on a miniature scale.

Whatever is your style, whatever is your age, fun, creativity and imaginative expression are just around the corner for you - in miniature form at least!  The only limit to what you can create is your own imagination!

 

 

 

 

 Choosing a toy isn’t just a simple thing, you need to find the right toys for your child.  

Read the Huisje guide 

 

find out here

Testimonials

Kinder

Thanks for all the thought that you have put into designing and creating this doll house. We have found that it is durable and easy to extend children's play and imagination. It is compact and easy ...

Kinder , Manager,

Steiner School

Our house from Huisje design is a wonderfully convenient toy that our kids love to play with. The stackable parts make it so easy to store, and assemble in all kinds of ways. It supports a child’s a ...

Steiner School, Teacher,

Lyla

I liked playing with the doll house ...

Lyla, Aged 4,

Annika

I liked the table and chairs ...

Annika, Aged 3,

Annie

I liked the doll house because it has wooden things that don't break easily and you can make things to go on the doll house. ...

Annie, Aged 4,

Olive

I liked it because there's dolls that can play in it ...

Olive, Aged 3,