Colonial America with TOG

I haven’t posted much lately about our history studies, but I thought that I would share what we have been up to in the past few weeks.  We are in the middle of Year 2 with Tapestry of Grace (TOG) and have been reading about the Pilgrims, Puritans, and first colonies.

TOG uses Betsy Maestro’s book as a spine for the lower levels and I have found that the read-aloud for the upper levels, Colonial Living, is just fascinating. As I am reading through the Colonial Living book for myself I will often paraphrase passages for my daughter while she looks at the illustrations. These two books taken together have really enriched my understanding of the period. I must confess that I didn’t really know the difference between a Pilgrim and a Puritan before now.

I have been stressing to my daughter that these people were very self-reliant and had to make many things that we take for granted. Last week, for our project, we made dipped candles from beeswax and this week we are going to try our luck with weaving. I also had a little Dover sticker book that depicted a Pilgrim house and we have the Dover paper dolls.

How we made dipped candles:

1. Melt the beeswax using a double boiler method; it took almost an hour to melt the wax over a low heat. Since I didn’t have a narrow metal container I bought one from Michaels for about $8 with a coupon, but it was so big that even 3 lbs of beeswax did not fill it completely. I will certainly look around for another container when we do this again…I have even seen blogs where people used glass mason jars. I found beeswax blocks at a bee supply store (Dadant) close to us.

2. Once the wax has melted, turn the heat down low and cut the wick into appropriate sizes. Cover up your counter space with newspaper and maybe even the floor if you are worried about scraping off bits of wax later. Many people on the internet seem to make 2 candles at a time by holding the wick in the middle when dipping. However, my husband found that it was much easier for our daughter to dip the wick into the wax if he fashioned a sort of fishing pole with line out of a small dowel rod and the wick.

3. Dip the wick into the melted wax repeatedly, waiting a few seconds for the wax to harden in between dips, until the candle reaches the desired size. We found that having a glass of water nearby to dip the candle into after every 3rd dip in the wax sped up the process immensely. You will also need to have a knife nearby to cut off the drop of wax that will form while waiting for the melted wax to drip off and harden.

makind dipped candles from beeswaxmelted beeswaxa finished dipped candle
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