Crafts for Better Reading
For some reason when I was a child I had no interest in the Little House series. My sister read it and loved it but me? No thanks. I stuck with my beloved Nancy Drew, thank you very much.
However, I ended up with the first book in my hand at the used book store while the kids were looking for something to read and decided I’d read it to Lillian. She was game and soon we were eating up a chapter before bedtime each night.
I found myself completely drawn into the story and loving it as much as Lily–probably because life back in the 1870s was so darn interesting! They made cheese, they built log cabins, they even butchered pigs (every gory detail) and it’s all hugely entertaining and enriching (if that doesn’t sound too weird).
So I came up with a fun idea for a bit of a Little House obsession. . . .
I dug out felt and wooden pieces and glue from my craft closet and we made our own Little House dolls (the idea came from our Quiet Family craft a year or two ago). We made Ma and Pa, Mary, Laura and Baby Carrie, complete with their names burned on their bottoms:
and then a wooden bird house ($4 at Michaels) worked as a little log cabin in the Wisconsin woods. The top was attached with little craft nails and was easy to remove so that you could take off the top and play with the pieces or store them inside. Then Lily painted the house, inside and out, and painted the bottom green. We cut out felt flowers and glued them around the base of the house.
Here’s a close up of the felt pond with lily pads and the horse and cow (also at Michaels) with little peg-leg Laura.
Once we made the house and family we made a batch of salt dough (1 cup salt, 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup water) to make furniture, baking it for a couple hours at 250 degrees to harden it.
two beds . . .
five chairs and a table . . .
five teeny-tiny bowls . . .
and a bathtub/washtub for Ma’s washing or Saturday night baths . . .
But here’s the absolute cutest thing, the one that could turn anyone to jelly and will assure my place in history. A wagon made from popsicle sticks and wood glue:
Obviously we spray-painted everything once it was hardened or glued together, here ‘s a layout of the cart pieces using a dozen or so popsicle sticks, a skinny piece of dowl and two turned wooden wheels (you could use anything round as a substitute–even milk jug caps). We tied a piece of string to each front piece to drape over the horse’s back as a harness.
Lillian has a great time playing with her new friends and there have already been many new adventures, usually including Baby Carrie getting lost and Laura saving her (Baby Carrie is her favorite).
You could do similar activities with other great children’s books–Charlie and the Chocolate Factory could inspire an entire world of candy creations that the little people could explore, Little Women could have a similar set up to what you see here. The Chronicles of Narnia would be beautiful with salt dough lions and wolves and beavers, and the White Queen would be the best as a peg doll. King Arthur and his knights, fairy tales, the Beverly Cleary books, Winnie the Pooh, the Jungle Books, there are plenty of worlds you could create.
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