When I revealed the teepee Beka and I made during our study of the Plains Indians, I also revealed something unusual about myself ~
I LEARN BY PLAYING and
I TEACH BY PLAYING.
It started out innocently enough when I began to homeschool. Since I learn by seeing and doing, that was the way I taught. I bought more games and manipulatives at garage sales and thrift stores than we use.
We had many dress-ups on hand to make history come alive with costumes and props.
It’s more fun to read when you can play along, so when I found Berenstain Bear Puppets at a thrift store they had to come home with us. Any character toy from our books were snatched up for our reading units. It can add a little excitement to reading, can help kids sit still and can help them understand the story better when they are playing along.
When Curious George got a paper route, I sewed a teeny, tiny yellow shoulder bag for our 4 inch friend. My kindergarten son and I cut and folded our newspaper into tiny newspapers for the bag. While I read, he acted out all the mischief with the stuffed monkey. For once, my son was allowed to make a mess by flinging newspapers around the room.
I purchased a colonial cardboard dollhouse and one for the Underground Railroad. Duplos, Barbies and Skipper were brought into the living room for math lessons. (click on links to read previous posts from my previous homeschool blog.)
So, with no Ingalls family dolls to be purchased anywhere, we had to get creative. My favorite childhood dolls are the Sunshine Family, a 1970’s hippie family that threw clay pots and sewed leather purses and sold them out of their pickup camper. Steve and Stephie eventually opened a craft store and moved to a farm. They had an adorable baby in a lace-trimmed yellow sleeper named ”Baby Sweets.” Later on, she grew up and a son was added to the family.
At the beginning of the year, the Sunshine Family took on a new persona in our home, Ma and Pa Ingalls. We added a dark-haired Kelly doll as Laura, and a small American Girl doll as Mary. Baby Sweets became Baby Carrie.
They moved into an apple crate, and as we read about their different adventures, we scour the house and yard for the appropriate props.
Didja’ notice the little blue and white figurine on the mantle? It’s a little wooden figure I found in Amsterdam for €.50, which is close to $.50. Yea, I’m a big spender when I travel.
We found a violin for Pa in the Barbie stuff and a family Bible.
Ma’s knitting needles are two stick pins with white heads, poked into a tiny ball of thin yarn I rolled up.
I still have the pattern my Mom bought to sew the Sunshine Family new clothes, so our family will look even more like the Ingalls family after we sew prairie clothes.
Trying to fit five dolls into a crate emphasized the tightness of quarters the Ingalls family always lived in. The girls never had their own rooms, they had only a few books, one doll each, and until Mr. Edwards met Santa Claus, they shared a drinking cup. As we peer into the little dollhouse we marvel that they were happy and content with their sparse lives.
But there is so much work to do for a homesteading family, so Beka and I still need to cut stumps for chairs, stack up firewood for the winter, make a red and white tablecloth, make some fake food, cut out paper dolls and craft to our hearts content to fill up the Little House on the Prairie.
Meanwhile, the Ingalls family has moved ton the banks of Plum Creek, and I am racking my brains about building a dugout home.
Should I use clay, paper mache’, (spell check says this should be macho!) or create a mud/glue recipe? If it weren’t the rainy season, I might dig one out in our yard. Should I make it for the Sunshine Family or make something smaller and create a clothespin family? Any ideas from you creative people out there? Anyone? Anyone?
But, what a better way to really imagine life for the Ingalls family in their new home in Minnesota, than to have dirt under our fingernails.
‘Cuz ya’ know by now, in our homeschool, we’re gunna’ PLAY TO LEARN.