Climbing bears and milking cows

An old-fashioned toy called the climbing bear may not appear to have much in common with milking a cow, but our ancestors were clever in how they taught essential chores.

The Wilton Historical Society will help children ages 6 to 12 make that connection as they assemble and decorate a wooden climbing bear toy on Saturday, June 11, from 11 to 12:30, at the museum complex at 224 Danbury Road.

While making their climbing bear, Lola Chen, museum educator, will talk with the children about milking cows and how dairy products were kept cold pre-electricity.  For their snack, the children will help make tapioca pudding.

In early America, childhood was often a serious time, spent in preparation for the adult world, and most toys, books and games were designed to acquaint children with everyday household tasks or teach them moral lessons.

The point of the climbing bear toy is to gently pull the two strings in an alternating pattern, which will make the bear "climb" to the top of the strings — the same motion used in milking a cow.

The workshop fee is $10 per member child, maximum $25 per family; $15 per non-member child, maximum $35 per family. Register by emailing or calling 203-762-7257.