Build & Imagine: STEAM-Powered Dollhouses

Here at GeekMom we definitely love STEM toys, but when you add art into the mix to make STEAM, the result is a well-rounded toy built for imaginative, unending play. Laurie Peterson of Build & Imagine had this idea in mind when creating the StoryWalls dollhouses.

The vibrant playsets combine construction pieces with magnetic dolls that can be dressed up and accessorized. With bright colors—but very little pink!—and detailed, lively illustrations, the Build & Imagine sets encourage girls ages 4+ to be both builders and storytellers.

Photo: Kelly Knox
Photo: Kelly Knox

Malia’s Beach House (retail $59.99) is a large set that includes 16 double-sided building panels, two dolls, and over 40 accessories. My six-year-old spent a rainy afternoon playing with the set, and I foresee many more hours of playtime in her future.

My daughter reconfigured the walls and floors several times, and the magnets work very well to hold the structure together, although there is a slight learning curve to how forcefully they can be placed without knocking the entire house down.

Photo: Kelly Knox

Each panel features a room full of details to discover, from a sink in need of repair to cupcakes waiting to be frosted. The accessory magnets can also be used to decorate the “interior” walls, which are fantastic prompts for even the most reluctant storyteller. My daughter, who often feels self-conscious when playing pretend, happily launched into a scenario in which a karaoke machine caught on fire during Malia’s sleepover. Interesting, but I’ll take it.

Courtesy © Build & Imagine
Courtesy © Build & Imagine

Pet Portrait Studio (retail $49.99) is a set with fewer pieces if you’re looking to start smaller, with 10 building panels, two dolls, and four pets. Put together the local animal shelter and get the pets ready for adoption day by accessorizing and decorating. The silly pups and cats inspired some giggles as they got ready for their close-ups.

The dollhouses can easily be disassembled and placed back into the original packaging for storage when playtime is over. (In fact, you can even store all of the pieces of Malia’s Beach House in a gallon storage bag if you prefer to save even more space.)

The StoryWalls sets from Build & Imagine are innovative toys that put a STEM twist on dollhouses. Like most STEM toys, the sets can be pricey. If your daughter isn’t into building with LEGO quite yet, this might be the toy that sparks an interest in building and engineering.

GeekMom received sample sets for review purposes.

Top image courtesy © Build & Imagine.

Kelly Knox is a freelance writer in Seattle, WA, where she contributes to local parenting magazines. She also writes for StarWars.com, Geek & Sundry, Forever Young Adult, and more. You can find crafts and art projects for geeky families at her blog The St{art} Button.