We just finished learning about Colonial Silversmiths. We read The Silversmiths (Colonial Craftsmen) by Leonard Fisher from a great series of books from the library about Colonial Craftsmen.
We learned that there weren't banks in colonial times but that the local silversmith acted like a bank. People realized that their silver coins were hard to protect because if they were stolen there was no way to prove that those coins had belonged to them. So many people brought their silver coins to the silversmith who then melted them to created beautiful silverware pieces like platters, spoons, cups, etc. This made their valuable silver more easy to identify if it were ever stolen. We also learned about a famous silversmith named Paul Revere who later became famous for his role in the Revolutionary War.
We also watched some videos demonstrating colonial silversmithing as well as different ways to make silver items including silverplating. Here is one of the videos we watched that gives a great demonstration on silversmithing as it was done in the colonial days:
After we learned about silversmiths, we found a fun activity to make our own decorated silver trays in the book Colonial Kids: An Activity Guide to Life in the New World (Hands-On History). I really love this book for activity ideas!
We obviously aren't going to melt down silver but we took more of a silver plating approach and a added a lot of decorative touches the way the true colonial silversmiths did.
We started with some basic supplies we already had around the house - a foam tray, glue, aluminum foil, yarn, and scissors.
We started by making a puddle of glue in a paper plate. Be careful with this step if you let the preschooler squirt the glue out. It won't look like enough for her until the whole bottle of glue has been emptied.
Next the kids thought about what kind of design they wanted to make on their silver trays. They cut some pieces of yard and dipped them in the glue.
Nicholas thought this would be terribly messy. I told him it would wash right off his hands but he grabbed some sandwich bags from the pantry to use as make-shift gloves. Good resourcefulness.
He soon learned that his "gloves" were cumbersome and made it harder to grip the yarn so he ditched them and embraced the messiness.
Rachel made a cross with some decorative swirls under it.
Nicholas made a giant letter "N" on his tray.
We let the trays dry for one day then the kids covered them with heavy duty aluminum foil.
They used their fingertips to gently press the foil into the edges of the yarn to make their design show through.
But as you are helping to pick up after the craft, don't forget about your messy-loving preschooler. Mine soon decided it was fun to just play with the glue tray!
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