Homes and houses

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By Hilary Whiteeducational and craft writer

‘Home is where the heart is’ – and in keeping with this old saying, young children love exploring homes and houses.

Although the theme of homes and houses is rooted in the familiar, it offers lots of new and interesting learning opportunities. Try the following activities with your children and help them to explore both their own homes and those of other people.


Moving house

Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Making Relationships

Talk about moving house – what it means, what it involves and some different reasons for moving house. Have any of the children experienced moving house? Introduce some books on moving house, such as Shirley Hughes’ Moving Molly (Red Fox). Set up a ‘moving house’ small world play activity with the doll’s house. If possible, provide two doll’s houses, plus two separate doll’s house families and sets of furniture. Put out boxes for packing furniture and toy removal vans.

Talk about buying and selling houses and set up a role play estate agency, with brochures for different houses, an appointment book, business cards, desks, phones, a filing cabinet for storing brochures, a notice board for displaying houses for sale and lots of office stationery. Encourage the children to take it in turns to play the estate agent and the customer – and suggest that the estate agent shows the customer around the setting, or the doll’s house.

What are homes made of?

Communication and Language

Gather together pictures of different kinds of homes and houses, such as a flat, a bungalow, a terraced house, a semi-detached house, a detached house, a black-and-white thatched cottage, a houseboat, a tent, a caravan, a mansion, a castle and a palace. Look at the pictures with the children and talk about them.

Make a collection of building materials such as different coloured bricks, chunks of stone and marble, a roof tile, a bundle of straw (thatched roofs), wood, screws and nails (in sturdy zip lock bags), canvas and plastic guttering. Try to gather building materials that can be seen in your pictures. Explore the materials with the children; talk about how they are used (bricks for building walls, tiles for putting on the roof and so on) and use a magnifying glass to look closely at textures, colours and details.

Look again at the pictures of the homes and houses, see if you can spot the different materials and pair or group the homes with the building materials they are made from.

Children with toy house

Brooms, mops and dusters

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