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A main aspect of Early Guilford Day is cycling through various workshops in both the Griswold and Hyland house to simulate activities performed in Colonial times. These workshops are presented by volunteers from the community, parents and retired teachers. The following is a gallery of the different workshops the students participate in.

Griswold House Workshops


The blacksmith station is a demonstration of creating tools from iron used for everyday life. It is done at the Thomas Griswold blacksmith shop where a volunteer shows the general process. First, coals are used to heat a fire while using the large air pump  to give oxygen. Then a stick of iron is placed in the fire and heated until glowing red where it can be tapered or bent into shape. Of course, the kids do not have as much of a hands on experience, but flames and metal makes it a very popular workshop. 

Colonial Games

The games students are taught are related to the activities kids would do with wooden objects. These were homemade and generally involved multiple people. For example, wooden hula-hoop with a stick was used to balance the hoop on its side and spin it until it falls over. It is used as a competition to see who can roll it the farthest. Another popular game is the ring toss where multiple players must rely on teamwork to catch a ring. It is thrown to the other player with two sticks.


Before clothing was mass produced, clothes in Colonial times were hand made with cloth. The cloth was made from a variety of sources, but wool and linen were most commonly used. This workshop demonstrates the process of making linen cloth using a loom. The linen itself comes from a plant that has its fibers stripped and is spun into string. The string is fed into the loom which braids it into cloth. Kids have a chance to use this tool to go through the motions of its use and experiment with different colors for different patterns.


Stenciling is a type of painting that required no great artist to accomplish, for the design is already present on a template. They were usually made of thick, oiled paper or leather, but is made from plastic today. This was used back in the day for painting the walls and furniture of houses if the owner was too poor to hire professional painters. Students will choose put a stencil against a piece of paper and use the colors of their choice. The paint is dabbed over the stencils, leaving a design on the paper when finished.

Rug Braiding

Rug braiding is the process of making rugs, braided fabric that is placed on floors. In colonial times, they had to be made from whatever people could find, including clothing and excess scraps. The material is braided the same way as hair, taking three strips and intertwining them into long strands. Once the strands are long enough, they are laid in a circular pattern and sown into shape. At Early Guilford Day, kids are able to make their own little rugs from fabric.


Before the process of weaving, yarn had to be spun from any soft material such as flax and wool. Cotton was used more in the southern colonies. Flax was most commonly used because it could be grown and spun into linen for clothes. The process for this begins with pulling out flax plants in the summer and letting them dry out. Once they are dry and clean, a hetchel, a tool with many spikes used to separate the fiber, would be used. Then finally the fibers could be spin into linen. With wool, it was a little easier which involved shaving off a sheep's fur, "carting" it with two brushes to smooth it out, then making the yarn. A demonstration of the process is shown during the workshop.

Knot Tying

Knowing how to tie knots was a very important skill in colonial times. Knots were, and still are, mainly used for tying ropes together or for attaching something. Boating constantly used knots for docking, especially in Guilford  as a town on the shoreline. Knots also appear in braiding for carpets and chairs. This workshop teaches kids some of the basic knots using rope. They will have the opportunity to make their own key chain as well showcasing a few different knots.
Drumming, though not part of everyday life, was an instrument that many kids learned how to play. During times of war, an army would have a drummer boy who who lead the marching of troops into battle. Drumming would increase morale of the soldiers and be used as a means of communicating over the loud noises of battle. The workshop focuses on how to use a drum and play certain rhythms. 

Hyland House Workshops

Hearth Cooking

One of the main ways of cooking was through the use of a fireplace called a hearth. The fire would heat up any metal pots in the hearth and get hot enough to cook food. Acting as an open oven, food such as bread, meat, and soup would be made by the wife and daughters for the family. In the past, clam chowder, corn bread, and chicken have been made for the workshop demonstration. The use of the butter churn is also demonstrated.


Herbs were a crucial part of colonial life, being used for cooking, cleaning, scents, and medicine. Some of the herbs grown include mint, parsley, thyme, and lavender. At the Hyland house, a workshop is done next to the herb garden where kids will learn about the different herbs grown in Connecticut along with each of
their uses.


When it came to metal tinkering, the local tinsmith would be the place to go for anything related to tin. Unlike the blacksmith, a tinsmith would make items more  related to household use, especially kitchen items, such as lamps, cups, canteens, and funnels. The men who were employed as tinsmiths needed patience and precision for this art. The tinsmith volunteer will show examples of what was made in Early Guilford. To get a feel for how tin was worked with, a hands-on activity will be done with a plate of tin where the kids will be able to make their own design from poking holes through it.
Corn Husk Dolls
A corn husk doll is a toy for kids that was originally used by the Native Americans. Made from dried corn husk, these dolls would usually depict a girl with arms, a head, and a dress. The process for making these is rather simple. A husk is taken, rolled up, and tied down with a string to create different features of the doll. In this workshop, the kids will be given the opportunity to create their own corn husk dolls in a similar way done by colonists.

Colonial Schoolhouse

School in colonial times was much different than today. There were small schoolhouses located in different places around the town that would only have a single room. A schoolhouse would have benches to sit in and a furnace or fireplace for the winter that would have wood brought in by the students. During school, subjects were taught such as penmanship, history, geography, and grammar. Students will not be in a schoolhouse but they will have activities related to what students of that time would do.
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