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Back to the basics: hone your primitive skills at a Knap-in

Looking for a unique way to teach your kids about the past? Enjoy taking the family to living history museums?

Keep an eye out on your travels for events called “Knap-ins” or “primitive arts festivals,” where your kids can revel in their inner Sacajawea or Daniel Boone.

Similar to reenactments or battlefield encampments, a Knap-in brings together many enthusiasts who enjoy re-creating the daily lives, dress and meals of people who lived long ago (the term Knap-in is derived from the ancient practice of knapping flint into tools.)

Other primitive skills include hand-beading of cloth and skins, tracking animals, herbal medicine, knot-tying, making fires with friction tools and creating basic musical instruments. There are usually vendors and artists at a Knap-in selling such items, either already made or sometimes in kits to take home.

Children can learn a lot in one day about basic skills and tools that kept our ancestors alive.

We attended a Knap-in at beautiful Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in north central Florida; look for such events January-April in many warm weather/Deep South US states, to avoid searing heat and bugs.

The big winner for my son was a chance to work with a costumed reenactor to learn how to throw an ancient spearing weapon, the atlatl (there’s even a World Atlatl Association for mega-enthusiasts.)

I found a few calendars for scheduled Knap-in events, and also take a look at your regional or state tourism events Website as well for possible announcements.

***  Directory of Primitive Living Skills Gatherings and Knap-ins of North America
***  Eskimo.com Upcoming Knap-ins
***  Missouri Trading Company Calendar of Events