Many times, it is the women living historians who are asked to speak at schools or assist with an education day. Hands on activities for children is what makes the day memorable for them. The website below tells how to construct corn husk dolls. Boys can make soldier or farmer dolls so are not as reluctant to participate.
Here is a short play to use with the dolls. http://maize.uga.edu/index.php?loc=skit
Another toy that entertained children in the past was the Handkerchief Doll. Used by resourceful mothers as a quiet toy for children during the long church services, these are also easy to make. Follow the directions on this website for a simple or elaborate doll. This version can also make a nice keepsake from antique linens.
This toy fascinates boys and girls alike. Made from simple items from Mother's sewing box they would occupy a child for a long time. View these how-to websites on button toys. Cardboard circles from pasteboard cartons can also be used.
This period toy illustrates a science concept just beginning to be understood in the 1800s. This link explains the concept and give examples for creating it.
Another version of this is called Jumping Jill, made with 4 instead of 2 images.
Corn Cob Dolls
Another toy that has a Native American origin is the corncob doll. These links provide several different styles. The Legend of the Blue Bonnet has always made me wonder if the special doll that was sacrificed by the little girl for her people was not a corncob doll.
The Texas fields are covered
With a blanket of deep blue.
But for a little Indian girl,
This would not be true.
Texas land was buried and dry.
Rains just would not come.
Indians danced and prayed for rain,
And beat upon their drums.
The Chief made a proclamation.
He appealed to one and all.
A prized possession must be sacrificed
Before the rains would fall.
The Indian camp was silent,
While each person searched his heart.
But when it came to sacrifice,
With possessions they would not part.
Suddenly a little girl stepped forth,
Holding her blue-clad doll.
She placed it in the roaring fire
and raindrops began to fall.
The rain brought forth the grass,
Among its blades, flowers of blue.
To be a sign for all the time
Of a love so pure and true.