Ever since the publication of Johann David Wyss’ Swiss Family Robinson in 1812, children have been captivated by tree houses. Later, Mary Pope Osborne's popular Magic Tree House series (http://www.magictreehouse.com) made the idea even more appealing for kids. Tree houses equal fantasy and adventure, a way for kids to get out and experience nature while having some time alone away from parents and still remain safe in their own garden.
Reasons Children Like Tree Houses
I recently asked a group of 8-10 year olds why they loved tree houses and this is what they had to say:
“You can shut yourself out from the world.”
“You can create a club in it.”
“It’s high up and you can see everything around you.”
“You can get away from parents—especially if they make you angry—and still be safe in the garden.”
“It can be a hiding place.”
“It’s a quiet, peaceful place to read a book, listen music, or do yoga/meditation.”
“It’s a private place to play games with friends.”
Resources for Parents and Teachers
For those people who have large trees in their gardens, there are many websites online that sell tree house kits. These kits range from simple and affordable to sophisticated and expensive. If building a tree house isn’t an option, parents and teachers can introduce tree house stories to children and engage them in various fun and educational activities. Besides introducing them to Swiss Family Robinson and the Magic Tree House series, another resource is Rachelle Burk’s children’s story, Tree House in a Storm (http://www.rachelleburk.blogspot.com). This book includes a free teacher’s guide with various activities for kids, from K-1 to grades 2-6. Among Burk’s suggested activities are taking children outdoors to spot trees that could hold a tree house, having them draw/design their dream tree house, and/or write a story about what they would do in a tree house.