There is nothing more satisfying for a child than being in nature and digging in the soil. As we see a little more sun in the sky, I know that I have wanted to get outside and get my hands in the dirt. This is a great activity for you and your child to feel more relaxed, productive and connect with history.
People in our town have been gardening for a long time. Long ago people needed gardens to grow food for their families to eat all year long. People today are still growing gardens for food and for beauty. Let's make our own garden to plant something today.
Whether you start seeds on the window sill, start working a garden bed, or just make a mess in the dirt, talk with your child about your gardening history. Did you garden as a child, did your grandparents? What gardens around town are important to you? Fostering a love of history begins with you. The things you talk about become important to your child. If you reflect on history and pose open-ended questions (e.g. I wonder what kinds of tools farmers used in the olden days?) you develop that habit in your child. The more we think, imagine, question, and tell stories about history, the more they will too. An added bonus, it supports crucial cognitive skills and encourages reflection, empathy, critical thinking, compare/contrast, and creativity.
On May 23rd, BCHS plans to host a plant sale to raise funds for the Museum, and to highlight the history of some of our local gardens and gardeners. Please join in by coming to the sale, or help donate plants and garden gear for us to sell (it is a Museum fundraiser). Also, if you know anyone with a great garden and a history to share, please send them our way!
Share your kid's garden pics at #athomewithBCHS or in the comments!
Finding things to do as a family during the Stay-Home order has lead to some creative ideas in our community. Bonner County resident Theresa Carlson took a beautiful family portrait that captures a moment with her family during isolation. Last week I wrote about using photos as a way to create a personal historical document and Theresa's project is a great example of a family doing just that. Below you can read about Theresa's experience, and her suggestions on how to make if work for you. What a great way to remember who you were with, where you were living, and how old you (and your kids) were during the 2020 Pandemic .
Theresa, can you tell us a little bit about what inspired your idea to do a family portrait? How was the experience for your family?
We were having one of those weekends where we didn’t know what to do, and nothing sounded fun. The weather wasn’t great so being outside was less appealing. I suggested we get dressed up and take some family photos. Since we have been isolating at home for a few weeks now, it felt good to think about the clothes we would put on. This simple activity actually managed to turn our weekend around.
Do you plan to keep the portrait as a personal historical record? What will it feel like to look back at the portrait in ten or twenty years?
The photos are digital and though we don’t have many printed photos in our home, we do make a photo book every couple of years so that we have something physical to look back on. I think most of us have probably spent time sorting through photos of our own childhood, or of our parents and grandparents. I love referring back to Instagram as a photo record of sorts, but in ten or twenty years it may be obsolete, and really it is no comparison to holding a photo in your hand. Likely these will be printed for grandparents, if not for ourselves, and it will certainly be a good reminder of this time in our lives.
What are some tips and tricks for families who want to take a portrait at home? (Did you use a camera and a tripod?)
We used a digital SLR camera and tripod, but if you do not have any equipment, just use your phone! Prop it up in a place where you know your family will be in frame and set the self timer, works great in a pinch. Some good natural light will always improve your photo.
If the idea of taking traditional family photos doesn’t appeal to you, get creative! Dress up in costume, recreate an old photo, set up a scene inside or outside. Just have fun! If the photos don’t turn out, at the very least you spent some time doing something creative with your family.
Let us know in the comments or on Instagram if you take your own Stay-Home self-portrait. #athomewithBCHS
Lots of people use writing, photographs, and drawings to record important things that are going on in their lives. Many years from now, people could look at those records and learn a little about what our life is like right now.
Last week we invited older kids on our At Home Historians blog to begin keeping a pandemic journal. If this is an age appropriate option for your little one, go for it! Otherwise, I want to introduce a few ideas on how to capture and record the current historical moment for (and with) our children. Life has certainly changed in some ways for most kids, and letting them share their views can be empowering for them.
For this activity, have children think about roughly 10 items that are most important to them right now while staying at home. If they fit, they can gather them all in "at home survival pack". Have your child show and tell you what they collected. You could record or write some notes to accompany the photo. Then have your child arrange the items on the floor and lay down among them for a photo. (In the style of Gregg Segal's series Daily Bread). If they are more aware of what is going on, and more sensitive to the changes, talking about things they like doing right now can be calming.
Some other ways to create a personal record with little ones:
Be sure to save your record somewhere safe for the future, and be sure to share with us too! #athomewithBCHS
Have you noticed that everyone seems to be baking bread lately? I think there are a lot of factors contributing to this phenomenon:
Regardless of why we are drawn to it, baking bread is an excellent way to connect little ones to history. I went to the bookshelf with my son this morning and we picked out my grandmother's cookbooks and searched for a bread recipe. Most of them called for yeast, which we didn't have, so we searched even deeper back in history. We chose a recipe for sourdough bread which simply uses four and water to attract yeast from the environment and makes a great bread (spoiler alert- it takes a couple of days!).
Connect your own child to the idea that long ago people made a lot more food at home. Make something that you can't get at the store right now (you could also do broth, cheese, crackers, butter, granola, share more ideas in the comments). Let your child be as involved as possible! Older ones can help pick out a recipe, gather ingredients, and read the steps. Younger ones like to pour pre-measured ingredients and mix and knead with their hands ( I usually put a tablecloth down and let them work on the floor). Very little ones can simply squeeze, hold, and play with dough as a sensory activity.
A long time ago people made their food at home instead of going to the store. Today we are going to make some bread at home together. We can imagine what it would have felt like to live long long ago.
There are lots of recipe options out there or on your own bookshelf. I will provide a few links here, too.
Don't forget to post a picture of your finished product on Instagram #athomewithbchs
Many museums around the world are taking this opportunity to find new ways for people to enjoy their collections (Getty Museum and The Met). You can study art works, photographs, and artifacts closely with your child and then find everyday objects to recreate the art. (I used Instagram's Layout app to help me make a side by side photo)
For an added Bonner County connection, take a look at the Adopt an Artifact pages for inspiration. If you visit the Facebook page, there are lots of historical photos you can recreate!
Older kids: Let them explore the museum website and pick out any image that they might like to recreate. Post their creations in the comments or Instagram #AtHomeWithBCHS.
Study the image really carefully. What do you notice? What do you wonder? What does it remind you of? Have you seen anything around our house that is similar in color or shape? When we look at something really closely we can learn more about it.
Younger kids: Show your child the pictures of some of the artifacts from the BCHS Museum and ask them to hunt around the house to find something that looks similar.
For really little kids: Get out a hat, coin, dress, or sled and see if they can match their version of the items to the pictures below.
Activities and experiences to engage with history at home. Share your work with us #AtHomeWithBCHS
If you've enjoyed these activities, please consider making a donation of $3, $5, or $10 so we can continue to bring you great projects for your family.