Teaching children about Colonial America gives them a glimpse into the past and helps to stimulate their imaginations about what life would have been like in the 18th century. It may be hard for some kids to grasp the fact there once were no video games, TVs, computers, high-tech toys, or even electricity. Making colonial crafts can be a fun and eye-opening project where they’ll gain a new perspective on play. With proper planning and supplies, the kids will be on their way--to the past.
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Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, dolls weren’t made of plastic, but they were still beloved toys of many children of the era. For children who didn’t have money for fancy dolls to be shipped from England, making dolls from cornhusks was common. This craft can be replicated today with dried corn husks, scissors, wool and ribbon. Corn husks can be dried from grocery-store-bought corn or found at craft stores.
Soak corn husks in water until they are soft. Place four corn husks together and tie about 1 inch below their tops. Turn upside-down and pull the long ends of the four husks over the short ends. This will form a ball at the top which will be the head. Tie a string again, around the neck area. Take another corn husk and roll it up into a straight line. Tie on either end to form the arms. Slide the arms under the body area just under the head. Once the arms are in place, tie another string below the arms to form the waist. Decorate the face and add hair and you’ll have a doll.
Marbles was a popular game with colonial children and were often home-made. To make the marbles, give each child a lump of air-drying red clay. Break off several lumps of clay about the size of a quarter and roll into a ball.
Try to make the marbles approximately the same size. Make one of the marbles about double the size of the others for the shooter, the one that is used to hit the smaller ones. Once the marbles are dry, paint them in colors such as dark green, yellow or dark red for an authentic period feel.
Kids in the present time may enjoy learning about how colonial children wrote by making a quill pen. As a knife is involved in the project, it’s best to have older children working on this project. Obtain large goose, swan or turkey feathers from a craft store. Using a penknife, cut 1/4 inch off the back of the quill. Then cut approximately 1/2 inch off the front, forming a point. It may take some adjusting to get the writing point perfect. Pour some washable ink into a container and have the kids test out their new pens. They may be surprised as to what a challenge it can be. Practice writing letters and once they get the feel, have them draw some pictures.