Saturday, February 07, 2009

18th Century Toys and Games

My summer job begins now as I am getting my calendar together for this season. I have some gigs set from last summer, so I just need to finalize the contracts. There are several workshops I offer to historic sites, schools and groups.

My favorite and most often requested workshop is 18th century toys and games. I have a great collection of them and can entertain a crowd of 100 or a small scout troop. The pictures above were taken by my friend Laurie who works with Fort Johnson on their programs. The two games we're playing here are Jinglings and Sack Races. Jinglings was a game documented in a memoir by John Ennys at Fort Niagara. It's rather like Blind Man's Bluff in reverse... the "it" holds a string of bells and those trying to catch "it" are blindfolded and must use their hearing to find the bells. My favorite rendition of this is when men play it... they think they are so clever! It is as fun to watch as it is to play.

I have about 40 different period toys and games to share! It is great fun to see the whole family trying out stilts or helping tots wash doll clothes in a bucket. In the meantime, people see the homey, practical side of history and can jump over to other important aspects of history. It's a great hook.

Other workshops offered include Laundry and Dress-up, Open-fire Cooking and English Country Dance for Kids.

I also have done an immersion program where 10 or 12 kids came every morning for two weeks for a day camp. The premise was that we were traveling as a family from Albany to Schoharie during the Revolutionary War. I and my 12 children were being escorted by the brother of my recently deceased soldier husband. We made a shelter, cooked over a fire, collected firewood and herbs, played period games and explored the woods. The kids made their own outfits with a needle and thread, took care of my goat, Sam, and learned how to work together and help each other. The kids were incredible; even going by their more 'period correct' middle names or a chosen name. Very cool when they wrote their email's and IM names in my journal with feather pens and walnut ink!

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