Hi! I'm Kellie, the owner of Castle & Cubby, I'm also mum to 2 boys who were both the inspiration for starting Castle & Cubby back in 2012. Over the years I've played in cubbies more times that I would like to count, I've drunk 1000 pretend cups of coffee, have been fleeced of hundreds of 'pretend' dollars for overpriced ice-creams, and have entertained thousands of kids of all ages at our hosted cubby events.
By now I definitely classify myself as a Cubby House Matter Expert - a moniker I hold in high esteem.
I wanted to share with you the top 10 questions we get asked by families about purchasing a cubby house. I hope these help you decide if a cubby house is the right purchase for your family.
What is the best age for a cubby house?
The best time to buy an outdoor cubby house for your child is anytime from around 2 years of age.
Depending on the size you get and the way you set it up there is really no age limit to a cubby house. If a cubby house can be transformed into a tween or teenager hang out and the decor is updated with their current vibe, then your cubby house days are not numbered (maybe just don't call it a cubby house when they're tweens ; )
A cubby house provides the perfect environment for a child to achieve their physical, social, emotional, cognitive and language development milestones needed to lay the foundation of life between the ages of 1-5. A cubby house is a safe space where a child can act and mimick the world they see around them, have conversations with themselves and others to develop their language skills, socialise with play mates to develop care, empathy and respect, and to ultimately develop their sense of identity.
You can read more about the Development Milestones through the Early Learning Framework here.
With the financial investment and to maximise the opportunity for play-based learning in those early years we think the sooner the better is the best time to buy a cubby house!
How old are kids when they outgrow their cubby years?
We think kids outgrow their childhood cubby house by age 10. But that doesn't mean they've outgrown their hideway space years by any stretch. Kids, and adults alike, LOVE a small space to hunker down, to decorate, to fill with their treasures. We don't stop being social creatures, in fact we become more and more social, and so for tweens and teenagers the need to have a space to call their own and to have private space for friendships is really important.
For this reason it is worth considering purchasing a cubby house that will last and that can be redecorated, revamped and re-loved into a new space for your 10+ year old to enjoy with their friends for years to come.
Our very 1st Castle & Cubby cubby house. Built for our 2 year old who loved this little space, hanging out in it with friends and opening and closing the window, a thousand times.
3-5 year olds live their best life in a cubby house
10 year olds definitely still love cubby houses, as long as they are bigger and comfier to 'hang' in insted of have play dates in. "Cringe Mum! "
Where is the best position for a cubby house?
Young kids want to be close to YOU! You are the centre of their world and they want to be seen by you (as much as you'd love to hide from them - I know!)
So if you're thinking the back corner of the yard which hasn't seen much love for a while is perfect spot for a cubby house, perhaps think again. Close to the house where they know you can see them, where they can shout out 'Mum' or 'Dad', 'look at me' or 'can you play with me?', will ensure your cubby house gets the most amount of use!. Trust us on this one.
Do all kids like playing in cubby houses?
Well the short factual answer is no, however, your child's personality will determine just how into cubby house play they'll get and your approach to facilitating cubby house play will also. See the next question below for tips on how to ensure your kids play in their cubby house!
Toddlers 12-24 months old love a cubby!
How do I ensure my kids will play in their cubby house?
If you think cubby house play needs to always be imagination based, and you have a practical realist child like me, you might be dissappointed with the lack of imagination play. But if you understand that a cubby house can just be a private and contained space for all manner of activities then you'll tap into their needs and provide the science kit, the puzzles, the books and the comfort for it to meet their needs, Then they'll be a cubby kid!
Make sure you give your cubby house attention! Keep it clean and fresh and rotate the toys and decorations. It really is no different to how we enjoy our own homes, remember they are mimicking your world.
Make sure you add soft furnishings, somewhere to sit or lounge and a table or bench to do activities at. Keep the vibes high and your cubby house will give back to you for yers to come!
Will my kids go off and play on their own in their cubby house?
Depending on your child's personality and how engaging you've made your cubby house you will find kids after the age of 4 will go and play in their cubby house on their own. If the cubby house is positioned close to the house and they can see you from there it is more likely also. When kids get a bit older after 5 they defintiely will play on their own in their cubby house with their friends. Once again making it appealing with a good rotation of books and activities will also ensure that.
What do kids do in cubby houses?
From my experience;
Between the ages of 1-3 cubby house play involves a LOT of movement in and out of their cubby house door, opening and closing them and through the cubby windows popping up to play shops. This play matches the developmental milestones of learning about cause and action.
We recommend for all ages extending your cubby house play to incude garden beds, sandpits, slides or other interesting elements which will help facilitate that movement in and ouit and around the cubby house space.
Between the ages of 3-5 play becomes more purposeful with outcomes and tasks completed and time spent in the cubby house more fulfilling. This is definitely the funnest age to play cubbies! This is the time to make sure your inside stylign is on point and you have lots of engaging toys and activities to keep achieving those wonderful play-based learning outcomes of social, emotional, cognitive and language development.
How much space do I need for a cubby house?
You can have as little or as much as you like! When it comes to kids and space they really don't care. Most kids will have fun in a cardboard box, we know that, so if you only have a small space or a small budget don't sweat the size, just keep making it engaging. If you happen to have bigger spaces or bigget budgets then you'll have a few more opportunities for acitivity stations like a play kitchen or workbench and space to host more friends.
What are the must have items inside our cubby house?
Ohh this is where you get to have fun! The beauty of a cubby house is you don't have to worry so much about what it looks like on the inside, you can be a bit more eclectic and outrageous in your design, in fact kids love and need this creative haphazardness.
I always suggest shelving so you can store the toys and trinkets and personal items to ensure play lasts for longer and they are inspired to visit their cubby house daily.
Bench seating or some kind of table and chairs to suit your space size. You'll also want this for the long tea parties.
If space permits a work bench with or without kitchen components for creative projects and cooking up lotions and potions!
A blackboard for drawings and the days specials.
Cushions and rugs, artwork, boxes, dress ups to finish it off and bring it to life!
What do I do with my cubby house when they don't play in it anymore?
There is definitely an aftermarket for cubby houses especially good quality wooden cubby houses that offer a better base for renovation and sustainability. Castle & Cubby cubby houses generallly have a pretty good re-sale value and we've worked with a lot of 2nd owners to asssist with removal and reinstallation as well as upgrading accessories.
Alternatively, we have a donate back program for families in Melbourne (beta) where we pick them up, refurbish them and pass them on to kids and charities who work with families and children. You can read more about our donate back program here.
From our family to yours, we hope this has helped you!
Kel & Jono Stones
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