Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pioneer toys and games

I wanted to try making handkerchief dolls, using this tutorial---although I wasn't really sure if the children would like them that much---because it seemed like such a good demonstration of using what you have creatively, and being happy with it! We talked about how kids have always been able to make toys and games out of whatever they have---which the boys can definitely relate to, being the kings of stick-games and rock-games and whatever-else-they-find-games. Anyway, the dolls looked easy enough, and since I didn't have any handkerchiefs around (my Dad used handkerchiefs, though! I can still remember my mom teaching me to iron, using his handkerchiefs, when I was about Malachi's age) we used dishtowels.

We left off the lace borders on the dresses, so the only really tricky part was embroidering the faces on. I'd thought both older boys could do that, but the dishtowel fabric was woven so loosely that it was hard to get the thread to stay in. Abe sort of managed it, but I had to do the others' myself. Once we had faces, Abe wanted to make his into a bear, so we sewed little ribbon ears on. And Seb wanted his to be a man with a hat, so he picked out some brown ribbon and I sewed it in a sort of circle on top of the head. It looked very strange, but Seb liked him and named him Man-Hat immediately. 

Daisy and Ky both wanted girl dolls, but the only lace I had for a bonnet was a very wide eyelet, so they look more like brides or nuns than bonnet-wearing girls. To my surprise, Malachi fell in love most with his doll. He named her "Whitey" (!) and took her everywhere with him for the next several weeks, and cried if he didn't have her in his bed at night. He liked to fly her around with her arms in the air, like an airplane.
Daisy loved hers ("Doll") too, but then, I knew she would.

We also made those button/string "whirligigs", but no one except Abe could really figure out how to make them work. Abe enjoyed his, though.

We had tons of fun playing pioneer games. I'm happy there are enough of us to make the group games at least sort of possible! We used the following games (and I can't even remember where I got this list of rules, but they are pretty basic---I'd played most of them before). Poor Doggie and Bear in the Pit were favorites, as well as the sack races.

Bear in the Pit – The children form a circle and hold hands to create a barrier. One child is inside the circle and is designated the Bear. The Bear tries to get out of the circle anyway he/she can. Once the Bear escapes, all the children chase after him/her until one child catches him/her (tag, do not tackle!). The child that catches the Bear is the Bear in the next game. 
Hide the Thimble: One child is designated ‘It’ and hides a thimble or other small item in the schoolroom while the other children have their eyes closed (No peeking!).
After the item is hidden, the children can open their eyes and begin to wander the room seeking the object. Once a child  sees the object, he/she leaves it there and goes back to
 his/her seat and sits quietly until everyone else has found it and returned to their seats. The first child to see the object cannot help anyone else find it. As soon as everyone has found the object, the child who found it first is designated It and must hide the object again. 
A variation on Fox and Geese was Drop the Handkerchief. In this game the players would sit in a circle while one participant circled. This player would drop a handkerchief behind one of the
seated players. After dropping the handkerchief, the standing player had to run around the circle and fill the open spot in the circle (made available by the person who received the handkerchief).
Whoever did not refill the open spot became "it," charged with dropping the handkerchief in the next round. Today this game is known as "Duck, Duck, Goose." 
Poor Doggie (or Poor Kitty): The point of this game is to make a player smile. The player who is "it" is the doggie. They must try to make someone smile or laugh. The players sit in a circle
and the "Doggie" goes to each player and barks, whines, and imitates a dog. The players have to pet "Doggie" and say "Poor Doggie, Poor Doggie, Poor Doggie!"
The player must not smile while saying this or he/she will become the next Doggie. Players are allowed to laugh and smile when the "Doggie" is not visiting them. 
Races: Have a sack race or three-legged race. For a sack race you will need a burlap sack or old pillowcase. Have the players put their feet inside the sack and then race to a finish line.
In a three-legged race two people stand next to each other. The two legs next to each other are tied together. Then they have to race to a finish line. 
Who Has the Button?, the players form a circle, and the person who is “it” leaves (or closes his/her eyes) while the others pass a “button” or another object around the circle.
One person hides the object behind his/her back. All the other players put their hands behind their backs, too. Then “it” is allowed three guesses as to who is hiding the object. If “it” guesses correctly, they exchange places, and a new person is “it.”

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