If you have young children in your life, you know just how vital it is to cultivate a sense of independent play. One way to encourage tiny imaginations is with a pint-sized playhouse. A small structure instantly becomes a barber shop, fortress, diner, home or anything else your kiddo can dream up. Playhouses provide versatile shelter in just about any weather or season, and give your kids space to explore the corners of their creativity.

But what makes a great backyard playhouse? Keep reading to find out.

Made of termite resistant natural materials, and features a play kitchen and realistic looking windows and door. Amazon

When choosing a backyard playhouse, make sure you select something age appropriate. For toddlers and preschoolers, a small, simple structure will provide years of play centered around exploration and imagination.

Indoor/Outdoor Design

Lightweight resin structure has everything required to practice playing house, including hinged openings and a mail slot. Amazon

Backyard playhouses don’t have to just stay in the backyard. If you want a structure you can keep outside during nice weather and move inside to a playroom or basement during cooler seasons, look for a house that’s lightweight and easy to move and assemble.

Half-wall design allows for great airflow, while still providing protection from the elements. Amazon

If you’re concerned about the aesthetics of your backyard but want durability, opt for a playhouse made of cedar or another similar wood that resists rot and invasive pests. This ensures that your children will enjoy the structure for years to come—and that it won’t become an eyesore.