Sunday, March 25, 2007

The first Annual Furryville School Program

When I was in high school, my younger siblings spent hours building houses for their Furskins: little bear figures with a fairly short-lived retail time. My brother Justin, who wove a magic spell over Camie and Paul for years that entranced them into whatever play he championed, led the younger siblings in elaborate cardboard constructions and multi-media explorations with wee furniture and household goods. Parts of those houses lived in our basement for nearly a decade, representing too much young creativity and sibling bonding to be carelessly trashed. Though quite an imaginative constructor in my day, I was too busy with high school big girl stuff to be involved, but was routinely given tours of the latest additions and have always admired the longevity of their fascination.

My own girls are starting a construction tradition of their own with their Furryville animals, which enjoyed two seasons of being featured in TargetToys, but have met a similar passage into play history. I perversely like it that way; hype usually turns me in the other direction (Harry Potter being a notable exception :) ). Rather than buying some of the accessory sets, I've helped the girls construct a schoolroom and grocery with origami boxes (desks, bookcases, retail counter, shopping carts, grocery bags, cooler, food shelves and displays), small stapled books, black paper chalkboards, and a few carts' worth of tiny Sculpey food (keep in mind that Furryville animals' growth tops out at 2", so the scale is impressively bitty, even for us). All of this fits in one small, flat box, and comes out every month or so for a grand "set up" and 2 or 3 days of play. This weekend, my daughter Audrey (8) really outdid herself in the elaborate level of play. Marian (5) ran the grocery and Audrey was school master. Music, art, and dance studios were carefully set up for the animal students' "socials" (what she calls their enrichment classes, "I don't know why, I just like it!"), and the students rotated through each "afternoon" in frenetic preparation for the "First Annual Furryville School Program." I was the art teacher, a beret-ed raccoon whose enthusiastic accent kept changing (Audrey said it was okay, because he had been traveling the world in his artistic studies). We sculpted goats yesterday when I needed to finish some for my stoneware mugs, and sewed bunnies today when I needed a couple of finishing touches to get them ready for the shop. Both were more or less appropriate for the program's theme: "Farm Animals." The set was Marian's wooden horse stable (a deal from Lillian Vernon), and there was square dancing, dialogue that remained remarkably similar from dress rehearsal to drag-Dad-in final performance, elaborate stage decorations drawn from several other playsets, an audience of 48+ tiny Hamtaro figures (another toy-no-more that we love; still available on eBay from Hong Kong!), and a rousing rendition of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" for the audience to join in on.

Mornings like this are why I love toys!


Abby Frandsen said...

the pictures aren't loading... now I am very curious to see them!!!!

Donna said...

Hi Valerie, I love it that your girls are so creative in their play. This sounded like such a fun thing to do! You are a great mom. Love, Mama Donna


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