January 25, 2012

Colonists and Natives

We've been working on Colonial America FOREVER!!!  Tomorrow is culture club and there's still so much we wanted to do that we haven't yet.  But I'm confident that we'll move on to the Revolutionary War when CC is done rather than back tracking in order to cover more random details.  CC seems like a good crowning occasion on which to wrap things up.  So today we hurried through a few last minute things we wanted to make and got down to business organizing our thoughts for presentation day. So here's a quick overview of some of the things we've made along the way as we've learned about life in colonial America!  Most people would have made this 5 separate posts, but not this momma!  Grab a cup of tea, because we're going to be here a while!

The kids took turns trying their hand at covering a pickle jar in needle hitching.  You know when you go to seafood restaurants and they have those giant glass balls wrapped in woven rope?  That's needle hitching!  And the native Americans taught the colonists how to do it!  They would needle hitch around the oars of their boats so that the whales wouldn't hear them coming.  I had no idea whales were a part of colonial life!

Still in jammies, building a wigwam in mom's bed!
We set out just to study the colonists, found that their story was inseparable from the story of the native people, and ended up spending a ton of time on Native American culture too.  You know how one idea leads to another, one fact leads to a question, which leads to another fact?  Yeah, well after watching the Song of Hiawatha, we decided that we needed to build a wigwam.  Then as we looked up wigwam construction facts, we found all sorts of other types of native dwellings and soon we had decided to construct an entire village of native housing from all around North America.  We didn't do a long house because we figured it was pretty much just a giant wigwam, and we didn't do an igloo because we made one back during our igloo unit.  But the rest that we found got built!

Here's Hannah Jane giving a guided tour of our housing complex!  We found all of this information at this great site!  If you're ever in need of native housing information, this is a one stop shop! 

Hannah Jane tried her hand at writing with a quill pen.  Apparently she loved it because she's been using it ever since to write notes to people and draw pictures.  Instead of following the directions for making messy berry ink, I diluted some acrylic paints.  We made berry ink to paint our hieroglyphs back in Oregon when we were studying Egypt.  It was a mess!  Granted, the kids were a solid 4 years younger than they are now.  But still been there, done that, no need to go back!

We made our own butter by shaking a baby food jar full of whipping cream like crazy until it made a nice thick spread.  I will admit that it tasted like fluffy cardboard.  And maybe colonial food really did all taste like cardboard, but my kids aren't real colonial kids so we want to make something with an actual taste. That said, because we made it in a baby food jar, Haven called it "baby butter" and had it on bread about 4 times today.  So one of my kids can eat cardboard!

I knew I had seen something on a blog last year with a variety of recipe ideas for this small scale butter making.  I went to find it and - you're going to love me for this! - it was a Valentines post for making adorable Valentines butters!  So stinking cute!  I remember now that this was on my to-dolist last year and I just never found the time!  But now that we can call it school work?  Oh, yeah!  We're making some butter!  Tomorrow at Culture Club we'll be making a better butter than we made today. 

 We also made trenchers by carving soap bars.  Apparently plates were not a thing yet, so they had these wooden blocks that had been hollowed out and they slopped all of their food right in the one hole and got down to business!  Parent's would share a trencher, 2 siblings would share a trencher.  If you were rich, your table had trenchers carved right in and every night you'd just wash down the entire table!  And apparently Harvard would buy trenchers by the dozen-dozen.  I guess if you get into Harvard, you no longer have to share a trencher!  Talk about motivation to get an education.  I can't imagine eating with my hands from the same hole of food as Joe!  Sorry, Joe.  It's not you.  You know I have only child issues with sharing!

Okay, before I show you this last video, I some explaining to do.  We always dress up for culture club and I feel like I always end up doing more talking than I should, so I asked the boys to write a play that could be their contribution to CC.  That way I don't talk too much during their part and it's totally their own thoughts on the time.  Well, Haven developed a funny obsession with Radcliff's dog in Pocahontas, so his character had to have a "prissy dog."  And Hunter liked that the rich men who came looking for gold weren't going to work at all (don't worry.  we covered John Smith's "No work, no food" law).  So the play they wrote is all about these 2 rich guys in wigs that refuse to work and have a prissy dog.  It was really important to Haven for us to know that his prissy dog wasn't going to work either!  LOL!  "My dog is too prissy to dig for gold!"

Once they wrote the play, I typed it out in a big font without changing any of their words unless they picked a word I knew they wouldn't be able to read, in which case we consulted on an alternate word that was more phonetically kind.  So, again, this is their interpretation of snooty, rich colonists.  Haven gets more than a little hung up looking at his script towards the end, but he makes a fine recover after a few  a ton of hints from mom.  This is agonizingly adorable to watch.  So enjoy!

Tomorrow's the big day!   Hannah Jane is going dressed as Minnehaha (sounds like mini - haha and means laughing waters) who was Hiawatha's wife.  The boys are obviously going as rich prospectors.  We're taking corn bread and supplies to let everyone make some butter.  Should be serious fun!

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