May 20, 2005

Colonial Days

For Snoo's 5th grade colonial days project, they made bread, butter, and lemonade. They also made candles, running stitches, and strawberry ink. And a big sticky mess.

Strawberry ink forever
Snoo thought it was unholy to waste strawberries to make ink. I sort of agree.

As a volunteer I was scheduled to help supervise the cooking project on Thursday. Then lunch and games on Friday. I had the marble station. This is year 2005 people. I think only one kid had ever played marbles before. They were flinging, not flicking. There was lots of thumb cramping.

Jump the creek and sack racing was by far the favorite. For a 5th grader, anything that allows them to be loud, hyper, and smash into other people must be fun. We had to pack the kids a colonial style lunch. My degree in food anthropology is a distant memory. I have no idea what a colonial mom would pack their child. Bread, dried fist, and something to ward off Indian atacks?

I packed her an apple, carrots, grapes, and a boiled potato. I'm sure she had the most authentic lunch, what with raffia-handled coffee can pail. Hey, it seemed logical at the time and her teacher got a big kick out of it. They also got to feast on their bread, butter, and lemonade.

Of course, of all the station options, I get the messiest one of all. Every single group rotation there was at least one child that had a butter castoprophe. Warm, sticky, smelly cream flew everywhere. And on everyone at the table. Amazingly it never hit me. But was a room full of girls and boys with cream filled hair and clothes. And they even managed to make some real butter the left over cream not splattered everywhere.

Classroom butter
Note the duct tape on the margarine tub. A vain attempt, I know. I hear you chuckle.

The problem was in reusing margarine tubs to shake the heavy cream in. The gasses would make the seal leak and out came the cream, whizzing through the air. I suggested using a round modular mate which has a tight seal and then stopping to let the air out every few minutes. It was a common sense sort of idea that went over everyone's head.

If the kiddies want to make their own butter, use two small clean marbles, fill the container half- way with cream, then shake it, baby shake it. And then shake it some more. Until your arm hurts and your shoulders look like an olympic swimmers.

The kids were singing, 'come on, come on, come on, shake your butter, shake your butter'. Catchy. It was fun enough though and I've decided to study colonial times with the kids this summer. I found a great book:

Colonial Days : Discover the Past with Fun Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes (American Kids in History Series)

Some of the more resourceful parents helped the kids sew skirts and bonnets. I was not one of those resourceful parents. Me? Sew? Yeah, right. Those women make me look bad and it's getting hard to assure Snoo that moms who know how to sew cute things in 2007 are like fairies and unicorns. The Stuff of Fairy Tales. My friend Kathy is one of those mythical women. Y'all need to stop with the adorable quilts and homemade frilly swirly-dos. I can barely keep my toilet seats clean.

I do have an eye for a bargain though so Snoo borrowed Mooch's Little House bonnet that I scored, along with a dress, for a dollar. Wrong time period, generally the same look. Caps so big you can't see where you're going and whether you're about to step in cow poop.

Colonial girls
Snoo is on the far right (notice their "pails" formerly known as coffee cans)

The morning rain cleared up and it was a beautiful day. I spent most of it serving refreshing beverages and food to a bunch of starved, impatient kids. Anotherwords, it was just like home.