President’s Day is Feb. 21. Encourage children to honor the lives of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and help them learn how the lives of children growing up in colonial times were very different than today. For example, children spent part of their day with schooling and the other half doing chores (as early as age 3), and boys did different things than girls. The days were long, but home life was filled with love and there was still enough time for fun and laughter.
Here are some activities to help recreate colonial life for kids.
Fun and Games
Kids’ had crude games, toys and dolls involved materials found around the house and outdoors. Dolls were made from cloth, rags and cornhusks. Animal figures were whittled from soft wood. Marbles were played in the dirt.
Marbles — To play the game “taw,” a line is drawn in the dirt. Players shoot a marble from behind the taw line into a circle that holds other marbles. The object is to knock the other marbles out of the circle. Marbles are an easy find today at toy stores, so let kids take a shot at this traditional game.
Blindman’s Buff — All the players stand in a circle. One player is chosen to be “Buff” and is blindfolded and led to the center of the room. Buff is spun around three times and then tries to capture someone. When Buff does and names the person caught, that player becomes “Buff” and the game continues. This rhyme is recited throughout the game:
How many horses has your father got?
Three (Buff answers)
What color are they?
Black, white and gray (Buff answers)
Turn about and turn about and catch whom you can!
Stitching — Women and girls frequently worked on samplers. Make a replica of a sampler using graph paper. Reproduce cross-stitch alphabet letters on graph paper. Have kids color the X’s with fine tip markers or colored pencils. Finished samplers can be framed with colored construction paper and hung on the walls. There are many books that contain cross-stitch alphabet charts or get one from AllFreeCrafts.com.
Quilting — There is nothing more homey than a quilt. Explain to children how, in the past, quilts were made from scraps and even material from old clothing. Making a quilt might have been a group activity, with friends and family sewing together. To make a fun craft replica, provide fabric scraps for the children to cut. A basic quilt can be fabric squares glued onto construction paper. Try to incorporate a pattern using colors or prints. This is an activity of recycling at its best!
Quilling — The art of quilling is the techniques of creating designs with narrow strips of paper that have been rolled, shaped, arranged and then affixed onto a background. Draw a shape on a piece of cardboard or poster board. Take narrow strips of colored construction paper and roll these around a pencil or toothpick. Glue these coils inside the drawn shape until the area is full.
Churning Butter — The colonists made their butter by churning heavy cream. Invite the kids to make butter the old-fashioned way, by filling a baby food jar half full of heavy cream. Add a glass marble to help do the mixing, and be sure to screw the lid on tight. Have kids shake the jar vigorously. Shaking at least five minutes or more, the cream will be whipped and you will begin to see lumps of yellow butter forming. Rinse off the liquid whey and add a little salt if desired. Spread the butter on crackers for a taste.
Tania Cowling is a freelance writer, published author, mother and grandmother in Florida. Her career started in early childhood education and branched into writing about parenting and children.