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Thread: Brainstorm with me? Ideas for "Colonial Crafts" project for 4-H

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    Brainstorm with me? Ideas for "Colonial Crafts" project for 4-H

    Parents, especially those of you with boys (or anyone at all, actually!), can you help me? Our third son is 8, and my husband is not the boyscout leader type, and thinks that the boyscouts are some sort of ultra-conservative organization anyway. (He's born and raised in Manhattan--very bookish, which suits me fine, but presents some challenges as we were blessed with three boys). So, in my desperation to find an activity that will afford our young one the opportunity to be part of a group, build community, and allow me to make some new friends as well, I signed us up for 4-H, which offers a huge variety of projects, and is for both boys and girls. And I signed up to be a project leader for the fall. My son's interested in blacksmithing and many colonial craft activities; but I'm not sure too many other boys are, so I need some help thinking of things that might sound interesting to both boys and girls. So far, I've got hearth cooking, candle making, gravestone rubbings (I won't even go into the elaborate preparations I've made for this to work at my home kitchen table), making a horn book using wood cut out by my next door neighbor, parchments I got at Sturbridge, and quills and ink I got there too; also perhaps soap carving, making pincushions of old spools, a bit of cloth, batting and yarn (the boys could stick two pins in the top for antennae, draw a face on the spool, and call it an alien??), pomander making around Christmas time, and, and, and....well, I think that's it so far. And I don't know the first thing about soap carving; what kind of soap do you use?? If I had a daughter, and only girls signed up, we'd make clothespin dolls and a whole lot of other stuff. But I have a boy, and since the whole point of this is for him to widen his circle of friends (ideally, boys, since he already has enough girl friends), I want to attract some boys to this project! So there it is. Has anyone here--how about you homeschoolers?--done 4-H, or done a lot of projects at home that might be considered "Colonial"? I really don't care if it's the 1600's or the 1800's. Just "back in olden times" -ish.

    Help! Please!

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    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    Maybe making some of the game pieces that were used in the children's games at OSV? I'm thinking of that hoop and stick game. Then the boys could run around with their new projects? Or maybe making things like a reflector oven that would have been used to bake treats? If there's a campout type event, they could use the oven for a snack.

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    punched tin..........and what about making some "blue dye?"

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    Senior Member treehugger's Avatar
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    Do you have time to rent the PBS series Colonial House? I don't mean to watch with the kids, but to review before-hand, for ideas. Also maybe look at Colonial Williamsburg's website. And I bet your library has Colonial crafts books.

    Have fun, no matter what you decide on. I was a 4-Her from age 9 to 18 and have so many treasured memories, especially from my teen years when I got into leadership and running the summer camp.

    Personally, one of the things I liked best about 4-H was that it was co-ed. I was a tomboy who had older brothers, and I wasn't really interested in most traditionally girly things. So, definitely embrace that aspect of it, even though you only have sons. It's so beneficial for kids to have positive non-school experiences with the opposite sex throughout childhood.

    Kara

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    I am sure the resident artists at the John C. Campbell Folk Art School would help as would some of the curators at various colonial museums. See class ideas for folkschool.org.

    http://www.abookintime.com/crafts/projectsamer1700.html

    http://kids.librarypoint.org/colonial_crafts

    Google had a lot of ideas under colonial crafts kids

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    Senior Member Mrs. Hermit's Avatar
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    I lead a 4H club that teaches 1700's skills to kids 6-19. We dress in costume, perform the skills, and do living history in conjunction with the National Park Service. Our boys (or girls) have to be 14 before they can blacksmith. At 14, they have the muscles to actually make the metal move, and the sense (we hope) to work around a fire. Until then, they can whittle (use Ivory soap to teach them how to carve), they can do tin punch (kits are available on the Web), hearth cooking with original recipes (again, they have to be of age to directly handle the fire)-- (gutenbergproject.org is good for looking up recipes from old books), they can leather work (wallets are popular crafts that are available as kits), they can play games (dice, cards, hoops, graces, lawn bowling and of course variations of tag were all popular in the 1700"s). Weaving, pottery making, basket making, rope making were all crafts that boys were indentured for during the 1700's that could be taught today. There are instructions on the web, and some videos available, particularly from Williamsburg.


    AN AMERICAN BOYS HANDBOOK is a good book for a lot of old-timey crafts and games if you aren't targeting a specific time period.


    Try googling information about baseball as it was played during the Civil War. The rules were quite different! My family tried one game the "old fashioned" way, then went back to modern rules. But it was a fun learning experience.
    Mrs. Hermit

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    Hey, thanks everyone! And thanks for the suggestions about Williamsburg, and the links! I forgot about the punched tin thing, how did I forget?; now I remember using foil pans cut out, punched with a thick nail, and rolled into a cylinder, with the edges turned under, for tin lanterns, when I was trying to amuse my other two boys when they were little. I don't remember what we used under the "tin" for poking the nails through without poking your table full of holes, but maybe some cork board stuff would do, or an old boogie board. We had the American Boys Handy Book, or whatever it was called, a while back, but it fell apart long ago. I'll have to buy another copy. Treehugger, I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the co-ed aspect of 4-H; I really like that too. But there are definitely more girls than boys in the club we're in. I'm trying to recruit with flyers, but so many kids here are already in boy scouts or girl scouts that many parents just don't want to add on another activity. Mrs. Hermit, I hadn't thought of rope-making; I'm going to look into that. And all the other suggestions, too!

    Now, to check out some more links. This is fun! ( :

  8. #8
    rodeosweetheart
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    We live by the ocean, and an art that is dying is net-making by hand--not quite sure how you do it, but maybe you could knit a net with large wooden needles and light rope, then use it to skein fish?

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    Senior Member Selah's Avatar
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    Hi ke3. I grew up in Michigan, and we'd often have field trips to a place called Greenfield Village in Dearborn. It was a GIANT museum of all things Americana, funded initially, I think, by Henry Ford. They also had a Colonial section with a blacksmithing place and other places where they made soap, some sort of candy, candles, and thread and cloth. It sounds like the other posters have given you great leads to a million ideas, but you could also Google Greenfield Village for even more ideas if you want to. If anyone out there will be going by Dearborn (in Southeast Michigan, near Detroit), it is DEFINITELY worth a trip...it is beautiful and fascinating, and has a GIANT collection of historic cars, planes, a steam engine train, a full replica of Edison's lab, a beautiful church, and all sorts of other things.

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