Memory Lane. Arts Crafts and cooking for pre-schoolers in the 70's

I ran a day care center for 140 kids in the '70's.

Was thinking the other day of the types of crafts we did with the kids.

Their favorite was cooking. We made Macaroni and Cheese from the box, but let the kids stir in the butter and cheese, we made ants on a log, celery, peanut butter with raisins on top. Apple slices dipped in syrup and peanut butter. We got baby-food jars poured in 1/4 of the container, heavy cream, tightened the lid and let them shake the jar till we had homemade butter.

We heated oil in electric skillets. Cut holes in the middle of Pop-Can Biscuits, dropped the biscuit and the cut out hole into the oil to fry our own donuts, then dropped the hot donuts into a bowl of powdered sugar and ate them warm.

Cookies and Cakes were a staple, and lots of jello.

At the time our little family lived on a farm. Touching the baby bunnies in their cages, and watching the chickens run free accross the field was an awesome field trip. We collected wildflowers and took them back to the school to dry them and use in crafts.

Besides large plastic needles and yarn sewing into cardboard, and gluing macaroni and spaghetti into designs on cardstock or poster board, we made our own pinata's for them to hit with a pole on special occasions. The best ever was a giant pumpkin we made with a base of one of those giant "balloon" sit-on balls with a handle, kids sit on them and bounce across the room. We paper mache'd them with layers and layers of newspaper, let it dry over night at adding layers 4 days in a row, then cut a hole and cut apart and removed the giant balloon. Filled it with toys, coins and candy. It took forever to break, but it was a memorable Pumpkin!!

There was always controversy back them. Parents had opinions about everything. Using food as crafts, color dye # 70 or something like that, pasteurized milk, sugar drinks, natural vs. commercial peanut butter, candy or no candy, running with scissors, jello dried on the lunch room floor, whew.

I'll tell ya, I loved those kids, and we made a lot of memories.

I think my favorite was giant boxes of q-tips (cotton swabs). Containers of broken crayons and poster board. We used muffin tins, removed the paper from crayons, dropped like colors into different sections of the muffin tin, put the muffin tin in a giant electric skillet that had a low level of boiling water in it (home made double boiler) melted the crayon and let the kids dip and paint with the colored wax. When it dried solid they had flat mini-pancake sized crayons to color with, which was unique enough to keep them occupied.

We made candles this way too.

We also wrapped book fronts vertically with yarn, then wove over/under with other pieces of yarn to make homemade woven book covers.

We cleared out large areas on tile floors and built huge domino designs, and card houses from dozens of packs of playing cards.

Remember decoupage? We found pictures in magazines, cut them out, painted decoupage over them onto wooden pieces, great mother's day gifts. We also used lots of items from nature, dried flowers on rocks, decoupage. Bugs on sticks, decoupage. The boys loved this one.

A funny story. A four year old after her first day at our day care went home, went straight to her bedroom, got out her box of crayons and proceeded to break each one of them in half or thirds into a bowl from the kitchen. Her Mom was pretty protective of her child's possessions, so she scolded her for the deed, and the 4-year-old said, but I want my crayons to be like the ones at school.

We had some influence!!

1 comment:

r sinniger said...

Thanks - I'm doing a two week day camp for preschoolers and need some ideas - this reminded me of some of the things I've done and things I have around the house. Kids today are so structured (electronically!) that I'd like to give them experience with some of the things they won't get elsewhere!

You can buy this poster.