Do you like to play with dolls? Of course, some of our male Wonder Friends might say, “No!” But we bet everyone likes to play with dolls from time to time. They just might not always be called dolls. Sometimes we call them “action figures.”

If you’ve ever played with dolls or action figures, you know that one of the most fun things to do with them is to create places for them to live. These might take the form of dollhouses or even more elaborate outdoor activity areas.

The charm of many toys kids enjoy is that they take real-world items and reduce them down to a manageable size to play with. We often call these smaller versions of things miniatures. In addition to dolls or action figures, you might also have played with various other types of miniatures, such as toy cars.

But how are these miniature versions of things made? Do toy companies use a shrink ray? Nope! It might sound like it should be easy to make a small version of something, but it can actually be quite difficult and take a lot of time to do correctly.

Someone making a miniature toy home — what we often call a dollhouse — must pay attention to all sorts of details. For example, scale is one important consideration.

If a door of a real house is 6 feet tall and the door on your dollhouse is 6 inches tall, you’ll need to reduce everything else according to the same scaled set of dimensions for it to look right. The most common scale for adult collectors of dollhouses is 1:12 scale, which is also called one-inch scale where 1 foot of actual size is represented by 1 inch in the miniature version.

In addition, as you make things smaller, it can be easy to lose the intricate details that can easily be seen on something in its actual size. The best dollhouse makers spend hours creating miniature versions of everything within a house while maintaining all of the details of the original items.

Miniature homes have been hand-crafted for thousands of years. Some of the oldest examples have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. More modern dollhouses date back over 400 years in Europe. The first dollhouses were all handmade, but over time they began to be made in factories and sold inexpensively in stores.

Today, making miniature dollhouses is a popular hobby for many adults. While some dollhouses are still made entirely by hand, others come in kits that can then be assembled over time. Interior decorations, such as furniture, dolls and household items, can be purchased at special hobby stores or made from scratch.

64 Join the Discussion

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    • Hi there, Wonder Friend Caylee! We love your comments today, and we’re so happy that you have been WONDERing about itty-bitty houses with us! We think Polly Pockets has a very small house! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

    • WOW, we’ve heard great things about that book, Aubrey! Some of our Wonder Friends are reading it, too! We are glad you enjoy your time here at Wonderopolis, too! :)

  1. We have done a school project using the 1:12 scale when we made replicas of the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute in Chicago!

    P.S. We are very sad that we can’t see videos on Wonderopolis anymore because our school district blocks anything from Vimeo. Please consider changing your platform so we can see the videos. Thank you!!!!

    • Hi there, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Mann’s Class! We’re so excited that you have personal connections to today’s Wonder of the Day®! Your replica project sounds WONDERful! :)

      We are sorry you can’t view our Wonder videos on vimeo! Many schools have restrictions, but perhaps you can watch them while you’re at the library or at home. We’ll keep WONDERing of other ways to share our Wonder videos with all our Friends! :)

    • Ooooh, super guesses, Wonder Friends! We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be! Have a SUPER day, Mrs. B.’s Class! :)

    • Oooh, what a great questions from our 2nd grade Wonder Friends in Mrs. Wanner’s class! :) We bet cottages, huts and even tents are considered some of the smallest homes, but we bet you can do some more WONDERing of your own! :)

      That book sounds WONDERful, we’re going to have to check it out for ourselves! Have a SUPER day! :)

  2. We made a few connections to today’s wonder. The 1:12 scale connects to our math unit on ratios! We also made a personal connection to the movie “The Borrowers” where little people live under the floor boards.

    • Hooray, we’re so glad you are enjoying today’s miniature Wonder! Our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Janke’s Grade 5/6 must be having a SUPER time working on ratios! We are glad you mentioned the Borrower family, too! We remember how handy they were… they built lots of things out of string, floss and thimbles! :)

    • How cool, Jusin! You’ve learned something new about super small houses! We bet you’ll have plenty of room for family in friends in your dream house, too! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Bryleigh! We think cottages, huts and even tents are some of the smallest places to live, but we Wonder if you can do some research of your own?! :)

  3. Today’s wonder was really cool! I really liked how that girl in the video just took a plain wooden box and turned it into a dollhouse. Me and my sister, Blakeleigh, have a dollhouse that has real doors and tile floors just like the one in the video, only it is bigger and has different colors. Thank you for today’s wonder! It was cool! :)

    • WOW, your dollhouse sounds AWESOME, Berkleigh! Thanks for describing it to us! We bet you and Blakeleigh have a lot of fun playing with your dollhouse, too! Do you each have your own rooms, or do you switch off? Have a SUPER day! :)

    • It’s one of the smallest, but we guess it depends on who is living in it, Sierra! If it’s a house for a human, it might be a tent or a hut. If it’s a house for an ant, it could be very, very tiny! :)

    • We love the SUPER guesses from today’s Wonder! Thanks for sharing your comment, Wonder Friends in Mrs. M’s Class! Have a WONDERful weekend! :)

  4. I have made a doll house before but not out of wood. I used paper. I made the house and a little pond with a duck in it. I hope maybe someday I will have enough patience and be skilled enough to make a real one.

    • We bet with some practice, you’ll make a very cool doll house of your own, Wonder Friend Panthers! We think it’s awesome that you have already started one with paper– keep up the SUPER work! :)

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend Bananapeel81! What a SUPER guess! We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder is, either! :)

    • Hey there Danielle– you’re right, it sure is small! Isn’t it cool how much detail goes into something so tiny? Thanks for spreading the holiday cheer– Merry Christmas to you, Wonder Friend! :)

  5. Me and Blakeleigh and my older sister, Bryleigh, all share a room. And yes, we do have a lot of fun playing with it! It is very fun. :) ;)

    • Thanks for filling us in, Berkleigh! It sounds like you, Blakeleigh and Bryleigh have TONS of fun together! We think that’s just WONDERful! :)

    • Thanks for WONDERing with us, Jaedyn! We are glad you remembered those states! It’s great that you shared more information with us– how cool that you’ve been WONDERing on your own! :)

  6. Well, anyway, I really enjoyed your WONDER and I have an awkward question that you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to but I am in need of help! How can you stop acne without the oils and other stuff that you buy at the store? I tried looking for a WONDER about this but there wasn’t one :( Please help me and I will always go on Wonderopolis.org if you do!! :)
    -Chatter ;)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Chatter! We think it’s great that you are WONDERing about your body and how it changes. Sometimes, this is part of growing up. Other times, there are ways, like medicines or diet, to help clear up any acne or redness of the skin. We think you’ll learn something from Wonder #402– Do Growing Pains Hurt? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/do-growing-pains-hurt/. Talking to a family member or doctor can help– they may have some suggestions for acne issues! :)

  7. I love coming on here everyday reading your articles. You guys never have an end and you make me think about things I never thought of before. Keep up the good work!

  8. Hey I totally think I know tomorrow’s wonder! I think it’s about reindeer because since it’s winter, it goes with the theme!! Hey by the way, awesome wonder! I wish I had a mini house. AWWW! SOOOO CUTE!! ANYWAYS, happy holidays!!

    • Great question, Kori! We bet there are ways to wire a dollhouse to have sound, like a doorbell. We’re not sure, but we bet an adult can help you! :)

  9. Hey wonderopolis you still did not answer who owns the smallest house! Even my librarian, Mr.P in the library, said that Mrs. Wanner’s class is also wondering who owns the smallest house but you still did not answer! So this time please answer who owns the smallest house! Who owns the smallest house I want to know.

    • Hi there, Wonder Friend Audrey! We appreciate your comment about the smallest house! Sometimes we ask our Wonder Friends, like you, to help us Wonder by doing some research of your own. We LOVE when we can all learn new things from one another! :)

      A man who lives in Germany designed a house for himself that is just one square meter. That’s less than 11 square feet! How very cool! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

    • We are glad you’re WONDERing with us about super tiny houses, Elise! We aren’t always certain about the current owner of the house, but it’s fun to Wonder about different places people live! :)

    • That sure is a tiny house, Laila S! We bet there are lots of different, tiny animals that would like to live in a house so small! :)

    • Great point, Karaya! If you lived in a very small house and had to give away some of your belongings, what would be the one thing you would want to keep? :)

  10. Good morning Wonderopolis. we loved the wonder so much are rating we gave for the wonder was 5 stars. We learned the first doll houses made were hand made. Thanks for sharing wonderopolis. Bye

    • WONDERful, Evan and Andrew! Thank you for giving this Wonder a 5-star rating! We are so happy that you learned something new from Wonderopolis today! Keep WONDERing, Wonder Friend! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Who owns the smallest house?
  • Is it easy to make miniature versions of real things?
  • What is the most common scale used by adult collectors of dollhouses?

Wonder Gallery

MiniaturesVimeo Video

Try It Out

Ready to make your own miniature home? You don’t have to have a doll. And you don’t have to make something super tiny either. Just pick out a favorite stuffed animal or toy figurine and build a home for it.

Use whatever you have around the house. Maybe there are some cardboard boxes in the garage you could use. Perhaps there are some old shoe boxes in the closet. You can even use newspaper or construction paper.

Take what you have on hand and put your imagination to work. Decorate your miniature house in any way that you want. Feel free to use crayons or paints to make things just perfect for your stuffed animal or toy figurine.

When you’re finished, take a picture of your creation and post it to Facebook for all your Wonder Friends to see. We can’t wait to see what you make!

Still Wondering

In National Geographic Education’s Exploring Maps and Models activity, children compare miniatures to real items.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day features an animal whose name you won’t soon forget!

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.