Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
On emulation play and dollhouses
Supposition: Toy kitchens are killing dollhouses. Discuss.
Backstory: I saw an awesome four-story handmade dollhouse at my daughter’s friend’s home this weekend during a birthday party. The dad built the house a few years ago for his now 6-year-old daughter. She never played with it.
This monster cube of a home, perhaps 4′ x 4′ x 4′, serves as a paper weight at the entrance to their living room. The dad is a stage set designer. Rest assured, this house is something.
My daughter has a dollhouse too. It’s store bought because her dad is a blogger. She doesn’t play with the dollhouse, but she loves her toy kitchen, vacuum, swiffer, clothes washer and numerous dress up clothes.
With the advent of writing, she uses pencil, paper and tape to invent pretend scenarios to act out. Earlier this week she pulled a table into the living room and parked toys on top of it to hold a garage sale… complete with a sign denoting her pricing scheme.
Wikipedia states dollhouses have been used by children for at least 5,000 years, dating back to ancient Egypt, but Wikipedia is conspicuously silent on the topic of ancient toy vacuum cleaners and other emulation toys.
So… anyway… when I heard that the awesome 4-story dollhouse had gone unloved, I wondered if the changing nature of toys had something to do with it. In this one case, not really. The girl doesn’t have many emulation toys at all, but perhaps that explains the disinterest in dollhouses. Maybe she’s just not excited about copying adults.
But in my daughter’s case, I wonder if her toy kitchen and other home life toys are just so more engaging than a dollhouse, and so the dollhouse loses. Or maybe race has something to do with it… black and white parents who bought her an Asian doll family.
Meanwhile, my 2-year-old son loves the dollhouse. Or more precisely, he loves the furniture. I’ll try to update this post later with a photo of him squatting over the miniature wooden potty.