Monday, April 18, 2011

Where is the dollhouse?

I have always loved dolls. I had a dollhouse as a young girl, but I had to give it away when I turned 13 to a White Elephant Sale - my mother explained I was too big to play with dolls.

My mother was wrong.

I am still very partial to dolls.

I missed that dollhouse for many years.

One year when the boys were young, my husband bought me a dollhouse for my birthday, much to my delight. I painted it the same colors as our real house. I made furniture for it.

I kept the dollhouse in our family room and the boys played and played at it. I provided toy furniture and toy people, near at hand, freely tossed into accessible bins...but the children brought many other treasures to the dollhouse.
Sometimes Thomas the Tank Engine was in the dollhouse.
Sometimes it was simply zoo animals, particularly elephant families.
Sometimes we built enormous cities, with roads that led right to the dollhouse.
Sometimes it was just one doll figure, over and over again, using the toy toilet.
(Sometimes that one doll figure was Han Solo.)

When the boys entered elementary school and I had my own preschool class, I brought my dollhouse to my classroom...and watched lots of the same play again.

Yes, I find dollhouse play to be an extraordinary window into what is on a child's mind.

I don't think I am alone in this thinking. All of the classes at my private, cooperative preschool had dollhouses. My colleagues and I would frequently write down the conversations we overheard in the dollhouse and share them with the child's family. Sometimes we would continue discussions at circle time that had begun in the dollhouse - discussions about sharing or missing Mommy or other social-emotional concerns.

It dawned on me recently that I have yet to see a dollhouse in any of the public (city) preschool classes that I have visited this year.


What does this mean?

Is this important?

Where is the dollhouse?

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