Red House's games encourage children to learn about history

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Volunteers showed visiting youngsters simple ways to play on Saturday.

Drawing children to visit the Red House Interpretive Center and interact with history was one of the main objectives of Saturday's Summerfest event.

Ten adult volunteers came ready to motivate youngsters to dress up in period clothing; play games that don't involve technology; make cloth dolls, potpourri sachets and cloth bags; watch a cradleboard-making demonstration; or ask questions about arrowhead displays.

Apparently, it works.

"When I come to the Red House, I like to come inside and look, play the games and run around," said Jada Griffin, 7, who came Saturday with her grandmother.

Held outdoors, there was plenty of room to run and jump. Simple games like ring toss, horseshoes, jump rope -- including double Dutch -- and washers were available for children.

Volunteer Patsy Johnson brought along pioneer costumes used for dressing up when she makes the rounds at history class presentations for fourth-graders in Jackson. At first, 8-year-old Josh Eifert of Chaffee, Mo., didn't want to get dressed up. But he went along with it anyway, and joined in just about all the other activities."It was so much fun, I couldn't decide what I liked best," Josh said.

The Eifert family had come to visit the Red House -- a replica of where city founder Louis Lorimier lived and conducted business -- on Memorial Day, but it was closed. Tammy Eifert, a teacher at Scott City, said her two children have an interest in history. "Their favorite movie was 'The Patriot,'" she said.

Mary Eifert, 11, stuck her feet in a pot of water and picked up 12 pennies using only her toes. The game didn't have a name, but it was one her brother could beat her at.

Mary's favorite activity was making the cloth dolls, only a five-minute investment of time. Arms were braided and fed through the doll body made of torn cloth about 10 inches long. A wrapped cloth head, decorated with a straw hat topped off the craft, made from pre-cut supplies in a plastic bag.

Children received colonial dollars for each activity they participated in. A selection of wrapped surprises or candy could be purchased with the colonial dollars.

"We wanted to do something to hopefully pull people down here," Red House board member Linda Nash said. "June is a good time since the weather's good. We have crafts that appeal to children because one aspect is education. If we can combine history and education that's even better."

cpagano@semissourian

335-6611, extension 133

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