Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Little House at Shepherd University - 1928

Photograph by Walter Meayers Edwards 
Photographed August, 1948 

This adorable little stone house was built on the campus of Shepherd College during the summers of 1928 and 1929.  The origional purpose of the class project was to encourage children to attend summer school at the college where student teachers could then observe and work with the children.  The project quickly evolved into a miniature one acre farm including a barn and garden created and maintained by children.  The idea was for children to learn as they played - a concept I am fond of!

The entire farm was modeled after typical farms in the Shenandoah Valley.  The children were involved with the initial research to determine what the style the house should be and even what type of furniture should go in it.  They also determined what types of crops should be planted and where.



 Image via Shepherd University 

The "Little House" is a 10' high two-story, Dutch Colonial Revival style house. Constructed of native limestone with a gambrel style roof, the "Little House" has a living room, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms and a working fireplace. A copper box was placed in the cornerstone of the little house containing a "Statement of Purpose." The "Statement of Purpose" was a document stating the purpose of the miniature farm and was signed by all the workers of the project. 
- Shepherd University


 
 Image via Shepherd University
"Through the planning and construction of the miniature farm the twelve and thirteen-year old children learned mathematics, English, history, geography, art home economics, architecture and agriculture."
-Shepherd University




 Image via Shepherd University

The "Statement of Purpose" reads:
"In order that children may have a laboratory in which they may learn to work together, faithfully laying the foundation for useful lives, we have built this little house as a unifying center of a miniature farm."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring and storybook style at its finest!

The Monet Playhouse  at the Dallas Arboretum - 2012 
Image via: Boomer Brief
I ran across this gorgeous image and thought, Wow what a perfect example of a storybook style playhouse!  This tiny house fits seamlessly into its landscape as if it had always been there.  (The wow thought was immediately followed by the sinking feeling that my own yard is in dire need of a complete overhaul).  While we may not all be able to pull this off as well as the Dallas Arboretum (I mean hey they are landscape professionals), we could enjoy the beautiful weather and plant a few flowers with our children. 

We just bought sunflower seeds.  I cannot wait to see the look of wonder on my children's face when they see the 1 foot wide blooms!  Gardening is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy nature with your kids.  Playhouse fun doesn't have to stop with the house itself! 

I keep thinking about the little bridge in the photo above...how many kids have walked over it and entered into another world.  How many imagined the troll under the bridge guarding the cottage beyond?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Can spring cleaning be fun?


Do you have an amazing playhouse that your kids just don't play in?  Maybe they loved it at first but lost interest?  There may be a very simple reason.  It may just need a good Spring cleaning.  No one wants to play in a dusty little room full of creepy crawleys, not even kids.  Cleaning the playhouse is often a project that is overlooked...with good reason.  Trust me, as a busy mom the last thing I want is one more thing to clean or maintain.  Don't think of this as a dreaded task to check off your list, but as a way to get the kids outside and taking ownership of their space.  It may even be easier to get your kids to help clean out the playhouse than it is to get them to clean their rooms.  I mean what kid wouldn't love to drag all of the furniture and toys out into the yard?  Sometimes you have to make a mess to clean up right?  So how do you go about tackling this project?  

It's really basic, but I broke it down into a few steps:
1.  Gather supplies:
     wasp/bug spray
     broom
     bucket of water & rags
     mild soap (kid safe)
    shop vac is handy if you have one
2.  Check for bugs such as wasp and spiders and remove them.  Don't forget to check under the roof eaves.
3.  Also check for mold or mildew, splinters and loose or protruding nails.
4.  Get the kids to help move everything (furniture & toys) out.
5.  Wipe down all of the furniture.  It's amazing how dusty everything can get!
6.  Use a broom to knock down cobwebs.
7.  Wipe down all surfaces - walls, windows & floors.
8.  Before you move everything back in, make sure you still need it all.  If your children have outgrown some of the toys/furniture don't put it back in.  The playhouse should not be a storage area for unused toys (unless your are just using it for storage).  Age appropriate furnishings will encourage your kids to use the space.
9.  This would be a good time to check out the local flea market for some new fun decorations or maybe frame the kids artwork and hang it on the walls.
10.  This step goes a bit beyond cleaning, buy you may also want to add a fresh coat of paint or repair any rotten wood.  Playhouses require the same maintenance as you home does, just on a smaller scale.  
11.  Oh, don't forget landscaping.  Something as simple as a potted plant by the front door can make the playhouse more inviting.  (Great opportunity to teach the kids about gardening).
*  If you have a play structure with a bridge or tower that the kids climb on, make sure the ground below is free of debris and properly padded with mulch.  More on safety here.


The images above, both from Mari of SaimaaLife brought back childhood memories of cleaning our playhouse.  Fond memories...probably the only fond memories I have of cleaning.

Saimaalife.com is a blog about natural wellbeing. Wellbeing that comes from simplicity and is inspired by nature. 


    

Thursday, March 20, 2014

8'x8' Playhouse with Loft



Spring is in the air, and it's time to get outside and make something!  I just added another set of playhouse plans to my website.  The 8'x8' plan and straight forward design makes it the perfect DIY project.  Want to customize your playhouse?  Try downloading the free coloring sheet, and let your children help you with the color scheme.  The little upper loft window is anther place your could customize your house...maybe a salvaged stain glass window.  Have fun with the design process and get your kids involved.  The possibilities are endless!


Here's a bonus sneak peek at one of the sheets included in the set of plans:


This set is available HERE for $18.00.  After purchasing the plans, you will be redirected to an instant download.  You will also receive an email with the download link.  The plans can be printed on standard 8.5 x 11 paper.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Traditional Playhouse Plans



New playhouse plans just added to the A Place Imagined website!  (Order plans and instantly download the pdf file to start building today).  I love this classic playhouse cottage!  It has a small 5' tall kids door at the front porch, and a standard adult size door on the side.  This feature makes it super easy to convert to a studio or garden shed once the kids are grown.  You'll get your money's worth out of a playhouse that can grow with your family.  Another cool feature is the back porch.  The ceiling of the back porch is higher than the front porch.  This allows adults to comfortably use it as a potting bench area.  Oh, did I mention it also has a storage room?  That's right!  You can store anything from garden tools to toys in it.



And what playhouse is complete without a loft?   Get ready for camp-outs, because this loft is large enough for a twin mattress!  The loft takes advantage of the space above the storage room.  The plans below show the location of the loft just above the front door.



This set of plans even comes with a couple options...check out the website to learn more.  There's also a free downloadable coloring sheet available on the website - great way to get the kids involved.  Let me know in the comments how you would customize this playhouse to reflect your family's needs and style.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lucy's Queen Anne Style Playhouse


Lucy Haskell's playhouse was a gift to her for fifth birthday from her grandfather, John E. Hayner.  The Queen Anne style playhouse, built in 1885, was designed by architect Lucas Pfeiffenberger.  Detailing on the exterior of the house includes stained glass windows, gingerbread woodwork, fish scale shingles at the gable ends and ornamental iron work on the roof.  The playhouse has two porches, one on the front and a smaller one on the side.  Unfortunately I don't have any interior pictures to share, but the interior is made up of one large room, fourteen by sixteen feet.

Sadly, Lucy died at the age of nine of diphtheria.  The estate was given to the city of Alton, and is now a National Register Historical Landmark.  Currently the playhouse is available for parties.  What a perfect place to celebrate a birthday!

Haskell playhouse is in need of restoration.  More information on the restoration efforts can be found through Friends of Haskell Park.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lego Playhouse: Build Big!

Photos - Adrian Walton 

I'm reaching back with this one, but couldn't resist.  With the release of the new Lego Movie, my kids have been Lego crazy!  They constantly run through the house singing "Everything is Awesome!" 

A crew with Make-A-Wish Foundation spent five weekends constructing a playhouse made of legos for 6 year old, Alexander.  The 20 volunteers used 50 large gray plates (for siding) and an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 blocks to create the playhouse.  Would you have the patience to pull this off?

Thinking this would be a fun project...




Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Life Size Gingerbread Houses


 James Farley Post Office in New York 
in honor of it's limited-edition Gingerbread House Forever Stamps 
 Image:  Wusa9 

Last year I did a post on gingerbread houses, so I thought I'd see what I could dig up this year.  Some very talented (and patient) people have been busy designing and building these amazing life size gingerbread houses. Hope this inspires you to make something tasty!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Spooky Spider Web


Sometimes I like to leave a little surprise for my boys.   This morning is was a SPOOKY SPIDER WEB.  I know it's "their" playhouse, but why can't mom have a little fun too!  There's something  relaxing about drawing with chalk...maybe it's the no pressure, who cares if I make a mistake factor.  Happy Halloween!

If you decorated your playhouse for Halloween, send me pics!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Did I mention It's Easy to Put Together?

                          

The Chalkboard Playhouse is Available HERE
video and image by Light + Glass

These playhouses aren't just for the playroom (although that's not a bad idea).   Children like to play where the action is, and sometimes that means the middle of the living room.  The flat-packed design and slotted panels make assembly and storage easy.  When it's time to clean up, simply slide the playhouse under a bed.  Did I mention they are perfect for grandparents house too.


The Chalkboard Playhouse can now be purchased on my website!  Two sizes are available.  Both the Large and Mini are handcrafted in the United States from sustainable and locally sourced birch plywood.  They feature a chalkboard roof made from high pressure laminate that is easy to erase and clean. It is our goal to provide heirloom quality playhouses that can be passed down for generations.