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posted: 10/4/2012 7:58 AM

Naper Settlement introduces families to old-time fall fun

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  • The tree-dotted grounds of Naper Settlement provide a colorful backdrop for fall fun and Harvest Time activities throughout October.

      The tree-dotted grounds of Naper Settlement provide a colorful backdrop for fall fun and Harvest Time activities throughout October.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • During Harvest Time, weekend visitors to Naper Settlement can try their hand at working a cider press and take part in other pioneer-era activities.

      During Harvest Time, weekend visitors to Naper Settlement can try their hand at working a cider press and take part in other pioneer-era activities.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • Making corn husk dolls -- once a diversion from pioneer families' chores -- is a novel activity for today's children and adults.

      Making corn husk dolls -- once a diversion from pioneer families' chores -- is a novel activity for today's children and adults.
    Daily Herald File Photo

 
 

It's the kind of thing that would make Laura Ingalls Wilder right at home, but making a cornhusk doll -- once an act of leisure in between pioneer-era chores -- also can entertain a generation riveted by the latest YouTube sensation.

Organizers at Naper Settlement say fashioning such a doll is a hit with the youngsters and adults during Harvest Time, running weekends in October at the outdoor museum in Naperville.

Scratching your head about how to make a cornhusk doll?

Student volunteers will explain that process as well as how to turn apples into a spicy fall drink with a cider press.

"I think those kinds of things help the site come alive with those engaging, hands-on activities," said Nancy Smith, Naper Settlement's director of learning experiences.

A scavenger hunt for key items associated with the harvest encourages visitors to take a closer look at buildings filled with historic artifacts on the 12-acre grounds. Museum educators and volunteers also will be poised to answer questions.

"It generally leads to fun conversations," Smith said. "It's a dialogue not just a presentation."

Guests can dive into other old-timey activities like shelling corn and inspecting interpretations of food preservation and canning at the settlement's Halfway House.

"We know that people learn best when they're actually doing," Smith said. "They're seeing. They're smelling. They're tasting. It's very much a multi-sensory experience."

Some activities may be throwbacks, but Smith draws parallels to current trends, comparing an area planted with vegetables that would have been found in a World War II victory garden to the craze over urban, organic agriculture.

"Chicago actually led the nation in urban food production during World War II," Smith said. "That homegrown food revolution is now coming back around again in a different way."

And it's all against a backdrop of apple trees and vibrant fall shades.

"Our grounds are absolutely beautiful this time of the year," Smith said.

Harvest Time activities are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays throughout October.

All activities are included with admission to Naper Settlement. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for kids ages 4 to 12 and free for Naperville residents.

For information, call (630) 420-6010 or visit Napersettlement.org.

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