Traditional Appalachian Toys

Traditional Appalachian Toys is an original, creative expression that combines history, craftsmanship, and storytelling into an educational experience enjoyed by an inclusive audience of children and adults alike. Since the majority of Pine Mountain Settlement School’s clientele hails from Lexington and Louisville, this presentation bridges a gap between the old and new, as well as a diverse urban and rural membership. This allows for a greater appreciation for and understanding of Kentucky’s original Appalachian immigrants. Majority of the old timey toys demonstrated are handmade by the presenter and combined with childhood stories into a hands-on experience. Lack of electronics sends the audience into the past in a fast paced modern age.

Traditional Appalachian toys highlights authentic toys produced and used by Appalachia’s early inhabitants. Starting with the hardships of immigration from Virginia into the Appalachian region by original settlers, the presentation evolves to a time when homemade toys gave way to store bought products. One toy after another is demonstrated accompanying a personal story of the presenter that relates to that particular toy. Once demonstrated, audience members are incorporated into the program to try that particular toy. This collection includes toys with European and Native American origin and culminates with toys that represent change. It begs and answers the questions: Why did change come to Appalachia? Why did settlers stop making toys? Why did the art of toy making become obsolete?

Presented by William Field, Environmental Educator of Pine Mountain Settlement School, duration is approximately 60 minutes, with a dependence on audience participation. Spatial requirements include: The toys are in a trunk 30” X 28”. and about an 8’ area to arrange toys on floor before program starts. A hardwood floor is preferred for to utilize spinning tops and spool tractor. If a hardwood floor is not available, a small table might suffice. Additionally, small table is needed to demonstrate some of the toys. Presenter requires two chairs at front of room with about 6’ distance between presenter and the front of audience.