KinderBoys: Fire Fighters and Treasure Boxes

Today was our last day in our Community Workers unit of KinderBoys.  Since we have a trip to the fire station planned for the end of the month, we focused the first part of our class on firemen.  We started by reading:

The boys each got to dress up in this simple fire fighter outfit and tell me something they remembered or learned about fire and firemen.

Then we quickly switched gears. Ever since our field trip to a local historical museum last Friday, I've been eager to show the boys what was inside the "treasure boxes" that I rented from the museum for $10.  The 4 big blue tubs in the photo above are the treasure boxes.  They were labeled toys, every day living, everyday living, and dress up/resources.  I decided it would be best to save the toy box for last.  So we started with the two everyday living boxes.  We didn't have time to explore everything in the boxes, but we did quite a bit.

The teacher manual that came with the boxes encouraged actual use of the items.  But since I knew I was going to have to pack up immediately after class to return the boxes, I wasn't going to have time to wash and dry the contents of each box.  So I decided we'd do reenactments using the items, and when ever possible, I substituted my own belongings so they could have a more realistic experience.

First off, we saw a real butter churn.  I forgot to get a photo!  Instead of using the real butter churn we used a small plastic container  filled with whipping cream and took turns shaking it all during class.  Bythe end of class we had butter!  This is how it looked after pouring off the milk:

Then we got to sift flour. Since I had my own hand-cranked sifter, I let the boys practice using it.  Sometimes I am still surprised by how much young boys enjoy this kind of activity.

 The boxes also contained a really cool old paper press that leaves a sort of seal on the paper.  Very official looking. I wish I had one to make my letters and envelopes look fancy.
 Ok, so this is where things get a little imaginative.  I let them dry-wash some rags using the basin and wash tub.
 I don't know what this thing is called, but it was also used for agitating dirty laundry in the washtub.
 Then we hung our laundry up to dry with this cool retractable clothesline that came in the boxes.  I want one of those! It was really handy.  You can set up an instant clothesline where ever you happen to be!
 Now, it just so happens that I have my own hand powered laundry agitator that I can use to wash laundry while camping or during a power outage.  So I let the boys use some soap flakes, a bucket of water, and my laundry thing to wash some dirty socks.  For real!  They loved it!
These hand laundry washers are a great item to have in your emergency preparedness stash, or your camping gear.

 Here we are beating a rug.  So glad we have vacuum cleaners these days.
 Getting some practice shaving that baby soft skin!  Don't worry. There's no blade.
 Old-time shaving mug, brush and razor (blade removed).
 Trying on the spectacles.  I actually like this look on him!

Other items they explored but didn't get pictured: old potato ricer, alarm clock, camera, hair curling irons, clothing irons, bed warmer, egg basket, wooden bowls and paddles, butter mold, egg scale, hand cranked cheese graters (think Olive Garden), manual egg beaters, and more.

By the time we got out the toy box it was time to wrap it up with snack and another story.

I read to them while they ate and played with wooden trucks, metal trucks, old penny banks, kaleidoscopes, put-the-wooden-ball-on-a-string-in-the-wooden-cup thingie, wooden propeller thing, cloth dolls, and more.
 We're pretty informal here as you can see....

I love this kind of hands-on history that puts things into perspective for us.  It helps me feel connected to those who came before, grateful for the conveniences of modern day living, and hopeful that we can learn from the past as our young ones continue to forge their way into the future.  I wonder what kind of relics the children 100 years from today will be exploring in their "treasure boxes" of history.  An old Ipod?  A mouse?   A microwave? A printer?  Books?  Plastic? Who knows?