Wednesday, November 13, 2013

DIY Magic Tree House for your kids' Christmas

 I think this is one of those "picture says it all" posts.
 I mean, dang, that's just cool. 
When my daughter received it for Christmas last year she said, in a far-off, dreamy, blissful sort-of-way, "I didn't even know toys like this existed!"
And I can really brag about it because I didn't make it; my husband did. Double cool--cool that this kind of toy now exists and cool that my hubby made it. :) double wow. Lucky me.

 Last Christmas my then-5-year-old daughter was obsessed with those Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne. (And really, they are great little books. Great introductory to chapter books.) We were struggling to know what to get her for Christmas (besides more Magic Tree House books and audio books--that's just what she wanted) and came up with the idea to get her a tree house to play with and little toy Jack and Annie dolls (the main characters). Well, a quick internet search soon revealed that not only were the only tree house toys out there rather lame and quite expensive, but they also just didn't seem like "Magic Tree Houses."

So we made one. Like I said, my husband was the master mind and I helped a bit with sanding and drilling and gluing. That's about it. 

I love the wood-rounds staircase up the back. That's my favorite. 

My husband most likes the bucket that you can role up and down.

And to truly be THE Magic Tree House, it had to have a rope ladder. And a library of books in the house (see images above).  

The swinging bridge is pretty cool too though. 

 Anyway, such a fun present for us (I mean Santa) to give to our daughter. She loves it still, as does her younger sister and all who come over to play. It mostly houses stuffed animals, animal figurines, My Little Ponies, and the occasional Pegasus. It's been great. 

Now, if you (or someone who loves you a whole heap) is feeling so inclined to MAKE one, continue reading for a step-by-step tutorial.

 Step 1: Buy yourself a 3/4-inch thick pine board. Trace out the shapes for each floor of your tree house, cut them and then sand the edges to make them soft.

 Step 2: Cut all the posts you will use to hold up each floor. We used real tree branches for an authentic feel. 

Step 3: Drill a hole into your board where you will want the post. Drill a hole in your post as well.

Step 4: Apply wood glue to the post. Stick it onto the pine board, lining up the holes and drill a screw threw.

 Do this for all 4 posts.

Step 5: Time for the second floor. Place the floor onto the posts in the desired position and trace the location of the posts onto the board.

Step 6: Drill a hole in the center of each spot where the posts will meet the board as shown below.

Step 7: To attach each floor, you will use a 2 1/2-inch piece of wooded dowel that will span from one post, through the pine board that serves as a floor, into the post above. (Look at the series of images below and it will make sense). Use a drill bit to bore a hole into the posts and threw the floor. Use wood glue to adhere it all together well.

Clamp it together to allow it to dry well between each floor.

Step 8: Once each floor of your tree house has been attached in the method described above, it is time to embellish.
We added an actual "house" portion to the top, which is a favorite of our kids and what I would consider a "must."
We cut a small log into rounds and glued them together to make a stair case. I thought for sure the kids would break it, but now, 11 months later, it is still completely intact (with a few marker embellishments unfortunately, but c'est la vie).
We also took a trip down the artificial plants aisle to find some leaf-looking plants to put on it. We chose nice fall colors just for kicks.

We also added a swinging rope bridge and rope ladder. To do this, we used a wooden dowel cut into about 2-inch lengths, sanded smooth and drilled with holes to insert a nylon cord through. 
To drill the holes, we first made a divots with a hammer, then drilled the holes as shown below.

My husband also contrived that awesome little bucket that you can role up and down, which has been a fun addition to it, but not necessary. 

I hope this brief tutorial is useful to you! Let us know if you have any questions (I'll direct them to hubby) and successes! We'd love to see other tree houses. :)

Best wishes!



  1. Honestly I always wish I could play with it when I come over. :) Your girls are lucky to have such capable parents.

  2. Is there anyway you would be willing to post the patterns you used? That would be the hardest step for me. I just love this little Magic Treehouse!


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