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Just Like Laura Ingalls

Maddie and Cora absolutely love putting together long’, involved games that are played out in the house over a several-day time period. Whether it’s an elaborate, four-act show or a long, detailed mystery to be solved by the Butterfly Woman and Whisker Girl spies, the games often involve several rooms in the house, multiple costumes/disguises, and a proliferation of props.

A week ago the girls spent a good afternoon putting together their latest game – Pioneers. In our library they built a covered wagon like no other I’ve seen. There was a baby doll cradle and dolly – that’s Baby, who’s just been born but needs to travel with the family anyway, because Pa says it’s time to move. They had pillows standing up to outline the wagon, with two chairs towards the front as the bench to sit on; a freestanding drawer as their storage/kitchen table; and the love seat as the back end of the wagon, padded down with blankets so the girls could “sleep on the end of the wagon and see the stars”.

And as the crowning touch, Maddie and Cora brought over two pop-up tunnels to prop against the pillows and use as “wheels”.

Inside the wagon, they’d neatly packed favorite clothes, books, and school implements (“Even though we’re moving, Ma says we need to keep up with our larnin’,” Maddie intoned solemnly.) There was a stash of dried food, of course, but no flashlight since it’s “not period”.

Throughout the week, Maddie and Cora returned to the game, walking exhaustedly next to the wagon, or curling up in it to sleep, or singing songs on a rest stop, or making pioneer food by the campfire. When I said one night into the game that it was time to clean up – we’ve been working hard to clean up games at the end of each day – Cora didn’t protest. She just fell into my lap, crying silently.

So we kept it up. All week.

And boy, did we get our money’s worth on that. I loved listening to the dialog: “Sister, would you please hand me the cheese cloth for the baby?” “Oh, sister, I’ll take care of Baby – you get some more rest. You were gathering twigs for the fire all afternoon.” And of course, the “pioneer” outfits were, um, creative, if not one hundred percent accurate.

The wagon’s been disassembled with only minimal grumbling – I think partly because they got so much use out of it this week that they’re content to let the game die a natural death. And they’ve already begun outlining a new game that will center around Cora’s room, a ninja, and a butterfly.

It’s a new week.


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