Saturday, August 16, 2014

Colonial Small World {Safari Ltd. Review}

As you may know, Safari Ltd. is a company that we simply love! They make carefully sculptured replicas that are hand-painted and the details on the figures are amazing! They offer a huge line of TOOBS that include prehistoric dinosaurs, wild animals, farm animals, historical figures and even mythical creatures, just to name a few! 

Disclosure: I received a free product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not swayed by the free product. We simply love Safari Ltd.'s educational products!
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Safari Ltd. TOOBS are used daily for our homeschool activities, especially for sensory bins and small worlds! Today I'm sharing a sensory bin and small world that we created for the Jamestown Settlers TOOB to learn about the Early Settlers. They only took a few minutes to set up and did not need any special supplies. We used materials we had on hand, along with the houses and teepees I made for our unit studies.

Our new unit study is on the Early Settlers! We have had lots of fun playing with our Colonial Small World and read lots of books on early explorer's and the settlers! To begin, I started by talking to my children about what America was like before the settlers arrived. Since we had just finished our unit on Native Americans, they had a good idea of who the settlers would meet when they arrived. 

Here's a look at what is included in the Jamestown Settlers TOOB: A ship, cannon, fire, chicken, pig, John Smith, a blacksmith, sailor with a navigational device, settler workman with an ax, settler with a musket, a female settler cooking and a female settler gardener. 

If you use this TOOB to create a small world to learn about this period of history, you can also add animals and people from the Farm, North American Wildlife, Powhatan Indians, River, Ocean and Sea Life TOOBS to interact with the Jamestown Settlers. The North American Wildlife, Powhatan Indians and River TOOBS were used the most to bring the settlement to life!

For our first small world, we set up the Jamestown Settlers in a sensory bin with barely any materials for the settlers to work with. We used a sheet of green construction paper to represent grass and dried tea leaves to represent soil. We had originally used a moss mat for the grass, but the figures stand more easily on a flat surface. We did make a fence out of sticks, but it stood better on the moss mat, so we switched it out for this free-standing small wooden fence. We used a handful of play food to set up a garden and added some wild animals from other TOOBS for hunting. The blue glass stone was to represent a small spring they had found. 

It took the settlers two to three months to build each house, because they had to build them by hand. But one big priority was keeping out wild animals, so they also built a fence around the area they planned to build houses. In those days, there was no convenient shopping center nearby to buy food, so they had to grow, gather and hunt their own food. 

The kids gathered twigs while we were taking a nature walk earlier that day and brought them inside to add to the settlement. The settler with the ax needed plenty of wood so he could chop them into pieces to build a house. Snapping twigs added a fine motor activity to this sensory bin. 

Bean loved tending to the garden by raking the earth. We used dried tea leaves, which has a lovely earthy scent and is perfect for sensory bins and small worlds. We read a couple books on gardening and farming the old fashioned way.

It took them some time, but the settlers were finally growing enough food to feed everyone in the village! A woman and child from the Wild West TOOB stopped by, because the Settlers TOOB lacked children and Bean insisted that one needed to be there.

Eventually the Jamestown Settlement grew and they had some neighbors... The Powhatan Indians.

The felt teepees are from our Native American unit study. We did have paper mache wigwams and popsicle stick longhouses, but Bean likes the teepees best, so that is what she requested to use in this village. While we do try to remain historically correct, sometimes it's okay to just let the kids decide and play. Pocahontas is from the Powhatan tribe and you can see her standing by the yellow teepee. Her father, Chief Wahunsonacock, is seen standing in front of the plain teepee. Buffalo wouldn't normally be living in Virginia, but they came to play. And they wouldn't have normally used a row of rocks, but Munchkin set them up before I even got out the wooden fence.

We set up the Mayflower and a canoe in the water area with some beavers and a bald eagle from the River TOOB. Pocahontas' raccoon also came to join the fun! The navigator is hard at work making a map of the New World. Afterwards we watched a video on navigation and set up a small exploration table that had navigational tools (compass, magnetic compass, ruler), different world maps, star charts, a constellation globe, and paper and art supplies to create their own maps.

Meanwhile in the village, the settlers are hard at work building up their settlement. The settler women were tending to the garden and cooking, while the men were out working on chopping wood and hunting.

The colonial homes were a fantastic addition to this small world! They were the perfect size for the Safari Ltd. figures, can stand on their own and are pretty durable. They have survived many hours of play and we take them out every time we set up this small colonial settlement.

My kids love this colonial small world and is has been one that they request often. They love learning about how the settlers arrived and what their roles were when they arrived. The lives of men, women and children were quite different back then. We used the figures in the TOOB to learn about these roles, along with some of the items they carry, such as the musket, ax, navigational device, cooking pot, and gardening tools. This was a great way to explore jobs and the kids took turns pretending to play these roles. 

Munchkin was especially fascinated with the cannon and pretended to set it off by destroying the rock wall every so often. We managed to find a few neat videos online of cannons being used and read a book about parts of a ship that explored cannons.

The garden is coming along well! We only have a handful of small veggies, but we made it work. And there was plenty to go around. Bean loved counting the food and handing them out to the different settlers. We ate food bought at a farmer's market that day for lunch and talked about the importance of eating locally and learned about which foods were in season.

Life wasn't too easy for the Settlers or the Native Americans back in the day, but the kids made it work and they kept the peace.

While they played, I read books to them about the Mayflower and the Plymouth settlement, and the Jamestown settlers and the Powhatan tribe. We also read books that described the journey the pilgrim's took to get to The New World. The kids have a large pirate ship that they used in a different set up that fit all of the settlers and were able to pretend they were sailing across the Atlantic Ocean (a raw silk blanket that we use for small world play). Bean noted that the food would run out and made sure to remove food from their stores. She also loaded plenty of animals on the ship to make the journey with the settlers (from our Farm TOOB).

The "little old lady" also feeds the chickens, when she's not feeding the settlers.

Bean loved rearranging the houses and filling them with small dollhouse furniture and deciding where each of the settlers lived.

These were just two ways that we learned with the Jamestown Settlers TOOB! We have moved this set-up to our train table so that they can continue to play with the Jamestown Settlers during our unit study on Early Settlers. There are so many options when it comes to playing with the TOOBS and we definitely suggest them for fun learning! The possibilities are endless, and many times the kids create their own set-ups with their TOOB animals and people. We will continue learning about American history using Safari Ltd.'s TOOBs throughout the year! Look forward to seeing more of our small worlds and reviews!

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