Thursday, August 9, 2018

Little House & The Farm, Part 7: Handcrafted and Homemade

It is always a little sad when good things come to an end. Stores smell of fresh school supplies this time of year and even though the summer is in full heat and harvest, its end is just around the corner. This summer, moving with the rhythm of my boys' interests felt like such a freedom. And as such, we did not get to everything we originally planned in the Sprout Scouts Playcamp--which is totally OK! With that in mind, we have a few more themes we do want to squeeze into these last long days of summertime and it's time to wrap up our time in the past with our Little House & the Farm theme. We will surely be continuing to read aloud from the series, especially during long summer Shabbats and many of the activities we did over these past couple of weeks will return for repeat visits and time goes on.

We had one of those "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Days" here earlier this week when I set out a simple button and pipe cleaner craft at our Morning Work table. Both boys loved it! S mastered the fine motor skill of stringing buttons onto his pipe cleaner and Y mastered the fine motor skill of using his pincer grasp to select one button at a time for me to string on his pipe cleaner.

Well, using these buttons reminded S of sewing and he wanted to sew from there! So when Y was taking his morning nap, I put together a small plastic canvas and sewing kit for S. He worked with the plastic canvas and embroidery thread for a bit and then wanted to sew some buttons on. That reminded him of his needlepoint that we started over the winter. He decided to use that to sew on some buttons with regular thread and a needle (and his Mommy's help) and from there, he decided to use his ruler to measure how big it was. This is when he decided it was all finished and that he wanted to turn it into a pillow!

His Mommy helped finish the last bit of sewing after he chose a fabric for the back and now his dolls have a brand new pillow to sleep on!
Well, after we finished working on that, he admired the buttons on his finished needlepoint and that reminded him he wanted more buttons! So it was off to the craft supply store with a gift card I had for stored up rewards points and both boys started their own button collections. It is so much fun to watch them appreciate the small notions that brought such joy to Laura and Mary in Little House in the Big Woods and quite nostalgic to remember my own bead and button collections as a little girl. My older sister taught me all about "bartering" and "negotiating" through collected beads and buttons and now I can share these same hands on lessons with the boys.

Watching them observe, trade and design with their collected buttons and beads gave me the inspiration for this Morning Work activity to design with loose parts on mirrors using their special collections. S enjoyed arranging designs around his mirror and Y got a real kick out of placing fruit shaped buttons upside down and looking at their reflections!

As our weeks draw to a close, the boys get increasingly excited for Shabbos here. Shabbos, among other things, means tasty home-baked treats and challah! S loves to help me bake and even takes great pride in deciding what we will make for Shabbos dessert. Y loves to help shape challah just as much as his older brother and both boys enjoy the eating part.

I remember as a young girl in Hebrew school we once made "challah babies" out of stuffed stockings braided like challahs and decorated to look like babies. An amazing teacher in S's school actually used this method to teach her students to braid challah and I combined the ideas this morning with a laminated visual aid for each boy to explore at his own level. Y is years away from braiding and had a lot of fun playing with the "dough" nonetheless, but S actually got the hang of it with my help!

S asked me to sew the challahs together as a permanent braid. I gave him the option to leave them as "play challahs" for our Shabbos toy set that we take out each week or to turn them into challah baby dolls. He wanted to keep them as toy challahs! Tomorrow morning the boys will get to shape their own loaves of challah to bake fresh for Shabbos. Baking was such an integral part of the Ingalls home and I am so glad it is an integral part of ours as well. With Rosh Chodesh Elul just upon us, it's time to start stocking up on baked goods and challah for the yom tovim! There are so many valuable lessons to take from the Little House books. The Ingalls family must always use what they have and to its greatest possible potential. There's no running to Walmart every time the whim strikes and more and more, I try to live this way and convey it to the boys as well. This morning we used that washboard again to make music while we sang songs from our Ever-changing Book!
The second great lesson I take from reading the Little House books is to slow down. Summer days are long lasting but short lived. But for now, there is nothing urgently calling upon me (even if it often feels that there is). We can slow down, smell the challah baking and taste the sweetness of each day as it comes. Next week we will be back to explore a favorite theme of ours--rocks! And I'll even throw in a bonus post on our Grow Your Own Green Thumb theme that will take you from Garden to Table (and even the Farmers' Market). Until then...
Happy Playing!

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