Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sutter's Fort Field Trip

Today, I took the kids to experience the 1840s at Sutter's Fort.
The first station we visited (big surprise!) was the spinning station. We met a woman, dressed in period dress, with a spinning wheel.My daughter got the chance to card the wool; Her friend, my son, and I tried to spin the roving.Although I am not much of a spinner, it was enjoyable sharing the experience with the children. I even shared with them what plying the wool meant and why it was important to spin the roving tightly! My daughter attempted to spin, but could not get the hang of it...

I think the spun yarn was then dyed with natural dyes from plants and weaved into this item (table runner? scarf?). Although I was VERY interested in weaving, I could not keep my three charges interested enough to wait for our turn, and I had to be satisfied with watching other children weave the cloth (it was SO COOL!)

We then moved onto the fort's school yard, where there were several period games. My daughter's friend played with a yo-yobefore the children learned how to play the Game of Graces, an interesting game played with a wooden hoop and 2 sticks (per player). Even the little guy was able to play... The previous link is to a site that describes several games that we saw played today. I only wish we had more time to try all of them!

These are pelts that we saw at the Fur Trader station. Whoa, look at that skunk pelt!The kids had fun at the grinding station. They all got the chance to crack acorn nuts and mash them into flour. We then talked to the volunteer who explained how the pioneers strained the tannic acid out of the mashed nuts in the river and then used the flour to make bread.

Then they helped make rope:

Afterwards, the children ground some wheat using a stone mill. Now they know what "stone ground wheat" means...

Before we left, we saw a metal worker describe how he shaped metal into things that the fort needed. The details and skill he put into his pieces were amazing...

Last but not least, this is my favorite picture from today. My son is looking through the East Side Entrance. The juxtaposition of old (wood) and new (my baby boy) and the colors visually appeal to my sense of contrast and balance.