Hormel Historic Home: History programming for children

The History for Half Pints programming team at the Hormel Historic Home will begin to welcome some of the community’s youngest visitors next week. For the third year, kindergartners and first-graders will be treated to specially developed tours and activities that will reinforce state education standards for each grade level.  The children will learn about the lifestyle of their peers from over 100 years ago through the making of butter and playing with vintage toys. They will also look for a variety of shapes within the architecture of the home to reinforce the lessons they are being taught in the classroom.

New to the History for Half Pints initiative in 2020 is our collaboration with Matchbox Children’s Theatre. Their leadership team and youth actors will be designing and leading tours which will keep youthful guests engaged while teaching them bits about history and interior design features. Who better to tell a child about history than another child? Watch for details about a History At Play Day event scheduled for Saturday, May 2, 2020, when Matchbox will feature three new skits based on the history of the Hormel family.

There are several examples of playtime articles from the past on display in the HHH. Timeless games like checkers and Lincoln logs can be found, while less often recognized elements like a vintage Lotto game and a Stereoscope are also featured.  Classic stuffed characters can also be seen, such as Raggedy Ann and a couple of sock monkeys.

The model of Holmes stereoscope in Jay’s Bedroom dates to the 1860s.  Its original purpose was to emulate the natural function of a person’s eyes to see objects in 3-D.  The placing of a specially designed card featuring two similar images into the holder allowed the viewer to experience a 3-dimensional image from a flat picture.  The View-Master stereoscope became popular for ‘virtual tourism’ in the middle 1930s prior to being introduced into the toy world which I am sure many of you remember.  This is a perfect example of an historic item evolving into a modern day use.

Although our field trip guests don’t use the stereoscope they do get to take home another historic toy that they make themselves — a button spinner.  This simple toy involves threading a button onto a string and then spinning and pulling to produce a buzzing sound.  Though not electronic or flashy, the toy is fun and can even teach Newton’s Laws of Motion; however, we’ll leave that lesson to the school district.

The History for Half Pints programming and the field trips have been supported in part by the Austin Area Foundation.  History can be fun for all ages at the HHH.


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