Things to Make - A Pueblo Village

Before you laugh (okay, so while you laugh) remember it is the process not the product.

Two weekends ago, T had a fever and my husband had to work, leaving me completely homebound with the kids (without TV, which is an entirely separate story). After a moment of panic and depression, I pulled myself together and thought "all-day craft project?" So I scanned my favorite kids' project book - More Than Moccasins: A Kid's Activity Guide to Traditional North American Indian Life (A Kid's Guide series) (for other posts on the book, click here and here) and tried to find something based on materials we had on hand. After a quick glance of the recycling bin I realized we had enough boxes to make a Pueblo Indian village. Scroll below to see how I made this into an all day task. I'm really proud of us on this one, as we're not usually the best at staying home for long periods of time.

After I cut doors and windows into the boxes the girls painted them. Yes, I'm aware that painting on shiny cardboard is pretty difficult, but sometimes you have to use the materials you have. A more motivated mother may have wrapped the boxes in brown paper first. But I wasn't feeling that motivated.


After the girls finished painting I made moldable clay using the recipe photographed above from Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum. Unfortunately, the recipe produced a sticky, hard-to-work-with substance, so I added some cream of tartar and extra flour, which worked much better (cherry koolaid mix made it smell so yummy). I assumed that the moldable dough would somehow be different than playdough (maybe it would dry harder?) but it really wasn't, so I still recommend the easier recipe used here. F then made pots out of the moldable dough. Here's the recipe I used:

*1 and 1/4 cup flour
*1 cup boiling water
*1 pkg powdered drink mix (we used cherry kool-aid)
*1/4 cup salt
*1 tbsp oil
*2 tbsp cream of tartar

*Mix powdered drink mix, flour, and salt. Add oil. Add boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon. Add cream of tartar. Let cool.


After I put T down for his afternoon nap, the girls and I scavenged outside for natural materials to decorate our house, especially sticks to build ladders. Obviously, as Virginia's climate is completely different from the hot, dry southwest, we dropped any pretense of historical accuracy; except the Pueblo Indians used natural materials and we used natural materials, so at least we kept with the spirit of the project.


Making a stick ladder proved difficult, dad ended up breaking from work for a little while to help us construct one. We read in our book how the pueblo dwellings had holes in the roof for exit and entry. P thought it important that we use several leaves and branches to hide the holes, in case of enemy invasion. Finally, after much "natural" decorating, we had our own village (see top of this post for the final product).


Obviously, we now needed people to live in our village. The small doors eliminated most of the girls' dolls, so we ended up using Candyland game pieces. They seemed to like their new home, though they slept a lot in the leaf hammock pictured above. Then P decided they needed wives and so went the rest of the afternoon.

Obviously our little village was neither historically accurate nor incredibly beautiful, but it kept our day moving along. And hopefully my kids learned a little bit along the way. What about everyone else? Any good ideas for winter sick days?

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