I've been anxious to get Connor a play house from the moment we moved down here as we have a pretty big yard and I always wanted a play house growing up myself. The problem is Connor is a boy and by his "daddy's standards" most play houses are sort of girlish. From my point of view I try not to buy something gender bias if we are making a big purchase as who knows at some point we may have a little girl and the last thing I want to do is go out and buy another $300 outdoor play thing as our last one looked too boyish or girlish if its a boy.
When Step2 offered us a chance to review the Nature Station Playhouse I was pretty excited as I was confident that this would be a playhouse that both mommy and daddy would appreciate. Connor's dad has been working a lot lately with shift changes so I was a little nervous when the box arrived as I wasn't sure that it would be a project that would be too tough for me to put together alone, though I do always have my trusty helper at my heels. Regardless I could hardly contain my excitement seeing that huge box sitting in my carport so with Connor handing me the tools and parts we sat out on the task of working on our new playhouse, just me and Connor.
We started the project right after lunch and even with a few minor setbacks, one of the dogs kept stealing some of the larger screws and my power drill kept dying, it took us somewhere around an hour to finish the whole playhouse. I had to take a two hour break in between as I had to go and charge the drill but otherwise we would have been done in full an hour after we started, even less if I didn't have to hunt down those screws. Though I will warn you right now its not absolutely necessary to use a power drill to put together the house it will take you a good part of the day to screw in some of the longer screws without it if you don't have a ton of arm strength like myself.
First we put together the roof and the whole process took only a few moments with my drill. Really the only part that slowed me down was putting together the main structure as I was doing it by myself and it took a bit of maneuvering to get a good trip so I could get a good lineup of the pieces. With two people you could have done this easily and the build time would have most likely been cut in more than half. Not to mention I had a almost two year old bringing me the screws and pieces and I had to send him back several times as he would grab the wrong screw or piece. Overall though its really surprisingly simple to put together and seeing as there are no stickers to put on once your done screwing it together your done. The only thing I should note for you guys is when your building the periscope use a hand held screwdriver and gently screw it together as if you get it too tight the pieces tend to warp in on each other a bit.
Once put together it was time to play and Connor automatically knew what to do with his new Step2 Nature Station Playhouse. I made a joke that the fenced in area of the house looked a bit like a corral and if I was Connor I'd use it to herd the "cattle" aka the dogs into. Connor prefers scaling the wall like he was a ninja and running in and out of the doorway like a mad man. He also loves to find me on the periscope and its funny to hear him say "hi" to me when he is looking at me through a plastic tube. The house comes with some outdoor "lab" equipment including a play microscope, some bug hunting gear, and a working lantern. Though I did not give Connor all of the toys yet he absolutely loves playing with the plastic shovel and lantern that was included. I actually need to go out and buy him a few small plants to plant in the built in planter once the weather gets a little better.
The Nature Station Playhouse is really an affordable playhouse at around $249.00 and its gender neutral with a sort of an adventure feel to it. It has a ton of great accessories that really encourage learning and exploring the outdoors which so many kids seem to really need these days. I have to say the only drawback is if your looking for a traditional style playhouse you may be a little disappointed that it does not include an entryway door and that one side of the house totally open to the outside world.
Connor on the other hand really just seems to enjoy that he now has a place that is all his. I also love the fact that it comes in earth toned colors so it really does not stand out like a sore thumb in my backyard. I can't wait till Connor is a little bit older and we can play with the microscope and all the other lab toys that came with the set as well!
You can buy your own Nature Station Playhouse right off the Step2 website!