A few days ago, Kiddo asked if we could rent "Alone in the Wilderness" again... or as he called it, "the old man in the wilderness". This dvd of Richard Proenneke's life in remote Alaska was fairly influential last December when we watched it, and this time around was no exception. We've had a huge cardboard box in the living room for the last month and so, with a little bit of patience and work, it's become Kiddo's own Wilderness Cabin.
On Sunday night, Joe and Kiddo played in the box, which is laying lengthwise on the floor. I'd measured out and then cut, using a Saag tool, a double set of windows, and then they had done some chalk drawings. One wall has a fan with a smiling face in the center of it-- I'm sure you can't get one of those happy fans at the store. At some point, inspired by Proenekke's hand-hewn latches, Kiddo had used a pencil to make a hole in the cardboard and figured out how to slide a popsicle-type craft stick into the cardboard of both windows so that it held between the corrugation. "It's the window latch" he said, demonstrating to me how the stick held both sides together.
Then, he suggested that the 'cabin' needed a chimney, so we measured and cut a hole/flap for the top. Inside, we used a long skinny box for the chimney stack and affixed it to the bigger box with brass 'brad'-type fasteners. Below this, Kiddo wanted a 'woodstove', so a Bogs boot box became that. But, the stove needed windows in front, so the box was deconstructed, a rectangular hole cut, and then reassembled. THEN the woodstove needed burners. Hmmm.... what would work for this? While my first idea was to use red construction paper, there was none to be found, so we used white paper and made some circular patterns via the Spirograph for the burners, then cut them out and glued them to the top of the box with the instant convenience of a glue stick.
Now to play: Kiddo grabbed a handful of craft sticks and stuck them in a tea tin, re-purposing them as 'matches'; Lincoln Logs were placed in the woodstove, and then he wanted 'fire', so out came some tiny red fabric flowers and they were sprinkled on the logs. I brought up a very spartan kitchen: some tea items, a pot, a couple of wooden 'veggies' to chop with their cutting board and knife,as well as pretend olive oil and jelly. A latch was contrived for the chimney as well.
The best part of it all was today, when two neighbor children came over to play. Kiddo was so excited to show them his cabin, all the latches he'd made himself--"That's clever" said the older neighbor boy, obviously impressed. Because they all agreed the cabin was only a 'two-person cabin', I set up the old IKEA play igloo tent, and with a few pillows and baby blankets, the kids were set. This began a game of 'forest creatures' disturbing the campers by scratching at the tent, which made the kids inside giggle so sweetly. I was doing dishes, but couldn't help myself and joined them from time to time, transforming myself into a raccoon who 'wants to eat your garbage', sniffing loudly, scratching around the base of the tent and making little critter sounds. "Block the raccoon!" ordered the eldest of the children, and they bravely left the tent to block me in with 'blockers' made from the blankets they held up. Then I told these dear sweeties about how, on our last camping trip, the racoons got into the cousins' hot chocolate packets and devoured the sweet powder inside.
In the twisted words of Billie Holliday (singing the song written by Harry M. Woods in 1934):
"Ooooh, what a little cardboard box can do
Oooh-ooh! What a little cardboard box can do for you.... "