Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Small World

I'm super sad that I have not been able to find the Safari Ltd. Jamestown Settlers toob or a turkey at our local Michael's Arts and Crafts store, which normally has them in stock, but of course it's when I'm there specifically looking for them that they don't have them. Go figure! So you'll have to forgive us for making do with the Wild West people instead! We also included the Powhatan Indians toob as well as various animals from other toobs, like the North American Wildlife toob and Arctic toob. And a couple larger figures as well, because the kids insisted on playing with them too. We already played with a felt turkey earlier as well as ate turkey for lunch and dinner, so we'll just excuse the turkey from being absent from this small world. :)

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Originally when we started this Native American themed sensory play activity it was in a bin. But as you can see, it's not now. When my kids are playing with such tiny people, they have trouble moving them around in a bin, even when it's a pretty big one. So we decided to expand the territory and I laid out a fluffy tan blanket for them to play on. I also gave them a few of our homemade felt boards, which was perfect for different kinds of land (water, dirt and grass). We also included our fake vines which was used for the forest, since we only have palm trees. 

Slowly this set-up evolved every time we played with it. First it was in a bin and we used brown rice as a filler and homemade tepees made out of felt and popsicle sticks. The next time we used our Lego's table to create small dwellings for the Pilgrims. And eventually we ended up testing out the felt boards to see how they held up as small world landscapes. They were perfect! They are sturdy and because the surface is relatively flat, the figures are much easier to stand up and not worry about them falling over (although a few of them are still top-heavy, so we just prop them up on something). 

Here are the bigger animals we explored. Foxes and moose are pretty common in New England (provided you live in the woods!). Horses became a huge part of Native American culture and elk were hunted for food in the north. 

The Native American figures are definitely the kids favourite of the "people" toobs. They love their clothes and weapons (Bean adores bows and arrows) and find them fascinating, as I did as a child as well. We have Native American relatives, although they sadly live on the other side of the country, and I really hope my children are able to meet them someday. It will be very exciting to explore Native American culture with my children as they grow older!

Munchkin really enjoys setting up the people while Bean explains what they are doing or where they are going. "She is cooking corn." "He is going hunting!" "This guys bow is wicked awesome!" Occasionally she would ask questions like, "Is this a deer or elk?" or "What's a tepee?" The idea of a tepee is amazing to them, so usually this activity ended with building a blanket fort to play in. :)

Little tea lights are perfect for fires, "because the light flickers like a real fire." And since it becomes dark out quite early around here, we were even able to turn off the light and observe the late-night dinner these guys were having around a fire. Apparently corn, pumpkins and deer was on the menu. 

Over here the Pilgrims are "plowing fields for the corn," even though there is no plow. :) They are settling in fine, because it's just raining and now snowing... Granted, they are still planting during the wrong season, so I don't know how much food they expect to harvest! haha. 

Over here the Native American's are having a yummy feast and tanning some leather hides in preparation for winter. It's going to be a cold one!

Howdy ladies!

Mmm, cinnamon wood! This fire smells super yummy.

Eventually we put away the felt boards because the kids began to just play on the blankets. They still huddled around the fire though! It's raining out, so everyone was chilly.

Yum, roasted corn! While the kids played, I talked about how important it is to share and be kind to your neighbors.

Finally the Pilgrims have made a few friends.. They have discovered fire and roasted corn, as well. Such a fun small world to play in!

Meanwhile the animals roamed free.. The big animals formed a "pack" of their own.

Meanwhile Bean sorted all the little animals together and said these ones were a family that lived in the woods. Notice how the turtles are keeping up? She remembers that part from when we read Aesop's Fables! Though the hare is currently a little faster... She moved these guys around several times and Munchkin raided them with the Native American hunters to find dinner.

If you're American, I hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving tomorrow!! Everyone else have a fantastic day too! :)

Please always stay within arms reach of your child(ren) when they are playing. Some sensory materials may not be age suitable for every child. Please use your own judgement when creating sensory activities for your child(ren). 

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