Meet My Ingalls Family

When I revealed the teepee Beka and I made during our study of the Plains Indians, I also revealed something unusual about myself ~
I LEARN BY PLAYING and
I TEACH BY PLAYING.

It started out innocently enough when I began to homeschool. Since I learn by seeing and doing,  that was the way I taught. I bought more games and manipulatives  at garage sales and thrift stores than we use.

We had many dress-ups on hand to make history come alive with costumes and props.

It’s more fun to read when you can play along, so when I found Berenstain Bear Puppets at a thrift store they had to come home with us. Any character toy from our books were snatched up for our reading units. It can add a little excitement to reading, can help kids sit still and can help them understand the story better when they are playing along.

When Curious George got a paper route, I sewed a teeny, tiny yellow shoulder bag for our 4 inch  friend.  My kindergarten son and  I cut and folded our newspaper into tiny newspapers for the bag. While I read, he acted out all the mischief with the stuffed monkey. For once, my son was allowed to make a mess by flinging newspapers around the room.

I purchased a colonial cardboard dollhouse and one for the Underground Railroad. Duplos, Barbies and Skipper were brought into the living room for math lessons. (click on links to read previous posts from my previous homeschool blog.)

So, with no Ingalls family dolls to be purchased anywhere, we had to get creative. My favorite childhood dolls are the Sunshine Family, a 1970’s hippie family that threw clay pots and sewed leather purses and sold them out of their pickup camper.   Steve and Stephie  eventually opened a craft store and moved to a farm. They had an adorable baby in a lace-trimmed yellow sleeper named ”Baby Sweets.”  Later on, she grew up and a son was added to the family.

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At the beginning of the year, the Sunshine Family took on a new persona in our home, Ma and Pa Ingalls. We added a dark-haired Kelly doll as Laura, and a small American Girl doll as Mary. Baby Sweets became Baby Carrie.

They moved into an apple crate, and as we read about their different adventures, we scour the house and yard for the appropriate props.

Didja’ notice the little blue and white figurine on the mantle? It’s a little wooden figure I found in Amsterdam for €.50, which is close to $.50. Yea, I’m a big spender when I travel.
We found a violin for  Pa in the Barbie stuff and a family Bible.

Ma’s knitting needles are two stick pins with white heads, poked into a tiny ball of thin yarn I rolled up.

I still have the pattern my Mom bought to sew the  Sunshine Family new clothes,  so our family will look even more like the Ingalls family after we sew prairie clothes.

Trying to fit five dolls into a crate emphasized the tightness of quarters the Ingalls family always lived in. The girls never had their own rooms, they had only a few books, one doll each, and until Mr. Edwards met Santa Claus, they shared a drinking cup.  As we peer into the little dollhouse we marvel that they were happy and content with their sparse lives. 

But there is so much work to do for a homesteading family, so Beka and I still need to cut stumps for chairs, stack up firewood for the winter,  make a red and white tablecloth, make some fake food, cut out paper dolls and craft to our hearts content to fill up the Little House on the Prairie.

Meanwhile, the Ingalls family has moved ton the banks of Plum Creek, and I am racking my brains about building a dugout home.

Should I use clay, paper mache’, (spell check says this should be macho!) or create a mud/glue recipe? If it weren’t the rainy season, I might dig one out in our yard. Should I make it for the Sunshine Family or make something smaller and create a clothespin family? Any ideas from you creative people out there?  Anyone?  Anyone?

But, what a better way to really imagine life for the Ingalls family in their new home in Minnesota, than to have dirt under our fingernails.

‘Cuz ya’ know by now, in our homeschool, we’re gunna’  PLAY TO LEARN.

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How to Make a Native American Teepee

Some learn by doing, some learn by hearing, some learn by reading.  I learn by PLAYING.  I am SURE it is a learning style.  When we started reading about the Plains Indians, I was so excited about this project, we dropped everything and began.  I grew up  in Montana  and studied the Plains Indians  in elementary school.  I musta’ had this lingering childhood desire to build a teepee for my Barbie doll, because I HAD to divert from the curriculum, just a teensy-weensy bit.

STICKS:

1. Decide how tall you want your teepee.   Barbies are 11 -1/2 inches tall, but they needed room to cook and sleep.   We like the look of lotsa’ stick poking out of the top of the teepee, so our sticks are about 33 inches long.

2.  Send child outside to gather sticks.  Remind them to watch out for dog doo-doo.  We don’t have a dog, we have bad dog-owner neighbors.  I think there’s a sign in my yard only dogs can read, kinda’ like that whistle only they can hear, that says “Poop Here.  Public Doggy Restroom.”  Clean shoes before they come in the house to finish the project.

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3.  Peel  bark off sticks.  Make a huge mess on dining room table that sits there all day and spreads to the floor and carpeting. Don’t know if  the Plains Indians peeled theirs, but I wanted the least amount of mess while playing with teepee for years and years.  Yea, after all this work, this baby is gunna’ stay in the family fer shur, you betcha’. (Speakin’ a little MinnesOtan tonight fur y’all.Oh, and a liddle’ ol’ Kansan, too.)

4.  Put sticks out on deck during dinner and forget them there.  Let them get  soaking wet in the rain.  Bring them in the next day to dry.

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5.  Drill holes in sticks at the height you want your teepee to be.  Hey, that rhymes.  We drilled at about 21 inches from the bottom.   Don’t drill into the floor or carpeting.  Not saying we actually did that, just warnin’ ya’.

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6.  Thread old shoelace, leather thong or whatever’s in your junk drawer  through all six sticks, with a bead in-between each stick.

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7.  Spread out sticks to the width you want  before you tie the string together.

TARP:

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1. Find a large piece of paper to make pattern, a long string,  a pen or pencil and a scissors. I chose my ugliest Christmas paper.

2. Tie the string onto the pen and trace a semi-circle onto the paper.  Your desired  interior height is the radius. Get it?  You used that Geometry after all, didn’t you? We drilled the holes at 21 inches, and made a semicircle with a 21 inch radius.

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4. Cut out pattern and trace onto white material.  I had a piece in my stash that feels like canvas, but was a curtain at one time.  OOPS?  Was I supposed to hang them or play with them? This is an optical illusion, both circles are the same size, I promise. (Click on the link – it reminded me of something else kinda’ cool.)

5. Cut out cloth semicircle.

6.  You can cut out a cool pattern that makes an original opening, but we did the “git ‘er done” pattern.

ASSEMBLY:

1.  Stand up sticks.

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2. Drape cloth around.

3. Pin in place.

4.  Rub soot from the fireplace around the top to make it look like a fire really was burning inside. (Beka’s idea, I was SO impressed.  I was especially thankful that she felt like it was HER project, after all, I was having WAY TOO MUCH FUN and trying not to take control.)

5.  Decorate as desired.  We saw a lot of decorated teepees, a lot of plain ones.  Beka opted for plain.  I think she was tired of the project, so that was exactly the PERFECT time to quit.

We wanted the teepee portable and reusable, so we didn’t hot glue the fabric to the sticks. 

CLOTHING:

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The dresses are just T’s.  I measure from wrist to wrist, then from chin to ankle. I chose a tan fabric that doesn’t unravel, but you could use pretty much anything. I sewed the seam on the outside, then fringed with a scissors. If you don’t sew, you could use hot glue or hand sew. For the neckline, I cut a small half circle. I slit a little down the back so the dress can slip over the head, but I didn’t even put a snap there. You can bead necklaces, or sew beads onto the dress.

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Don’t look too closely.  I never figured out the armpit issue, but Barbie can’t raise her arms, so it doesn’t matter.  Again, my philosophy is to sacrifice perfection for the sake of finishing.  The sooner you get it done, the sooner you can play.

FOOD:

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This was our favorite library book to use, published by Clarion Books, from Houghton Mifflin Company, NY, because of vivid pictures and easy-to-understand descriptions.

Tribes of the Southern Plains

This book covered more about the Osage Indians, the tribe the Ingalls family lived near in Kansas. This was written by the editors of Time-Life books.

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We studied the food and found things in the house that would work.  We cut up dried cranberries into little pieces and put in a small wooden bowl for dried chokecherries.  Stems from lavender became bitterroot. Small white beans were dried prairie turnips. (not shown)  Since some Plains Indians gardened, we had small pumpkins.  We had small wooden utensils we pretended were made out of buffalo bones.

BEDDING:

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Beka just cut various pieces of fabric I had, felt, fake fur, a shrunken red wool sweater, to make the bedding.  Because they had already been trading with the Europeans, they had wool on occasion. When it was time to set up the teepee, she remembered a  diagram in Terry’s book and the materials to replicate it as closely as possible.  She described to me that the head of the home slept in the back, where the red blanket is, the children on the sides.  The cooking area is in the front and on the left of the teepee, the fire goes in the middle.

 

PLAYING:

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Use all of the above items for playing and pretending.  Give each doll a Native name.  The daughter, Meadow,  neglected to collect firewood before it rained.  She will have to get out tomorrow, to gather kindling for her Native mom who is yet to be named.  They also need to make a stand for drying meat over the fire.  There is always so much work  for a Plains Indian woman to do.

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The teepee is displayed in the dining room.  Daily we are adding a small project.  Today we made a bark basket by hot gluing a piece of thin white bark around a small plastic cap.  Yea, we totally cheated, but that’s OK.

The dolls will have to stay in the living room until we paint a horse and built a travois so they can move around this winter. Even in the Native culture, a man works from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.

But tonight, Native Mom and Prairie Momma will rest soundly, knowing we spent the day doing what we love, caring for our families.

 

Orphans Wanted!

Often when I read about the Pony Express,
I wonder about the teens of today.
Would there be enough teenage boys to staff the venture?

Then, I remind myself that young men
have always craved adventure.
Today, there isn’t a west to tame,
but young men find things to jump out of,
jump onto, jump under and jump with.

They attach wheels, sails, skis or faster motors
to anything and everything so they can
jump and twist and reinvent the sport.

We live in a day and age of
EXTREME SPORTS
so all the thrill jockeys
can still find something new to conquer.

Maybe young men today aren’t so different, after all.

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It’s an amazing time period and it was a thrilling adventure
for young men and our young country.

Pony Express founders

This is to show you the amazing work of  Cheryl Harness,
who makes history come alive with the power of story
and delightful illustrations.

I didn’t realize she was such a prolific author until I looked online.
We definitely will be using her books again!

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A book that has been on our shelf for years and years.

Only 80 pages, so a good adventure read for a younger
boy who hasn’t quite fallen in love with reading yet.

This might entice him.

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My mom and dad raised six kids with a wall full of books,
including the Landmark series.

As soon as I started having kids,
yes, before they could even read,
I started buying all the Landmark books I
found at garage sales and thrift stores.
I was thrilled that Mom and Dad donated their collection
to my bookshelf a few years into homeschooling.

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The thrill of imminent death must have drawn some riders.

Probably the $25 drew others.

Like teenagers today,
I  imagine some just wanted to get away from home.

As a mom, the call for orphans always tugged at my heart.
Pretty sure I wouldn’t let my sons do this,
but  the thought of young men dying
with no mom to cry for them,
is just as hard to imagine.

I will never complain about the price of postage again.

Never.

I promise.

Poke a stick in my eye and everything.

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If you still haven’t had enough adventure, check out the The Pony Express National Museum’s website.

Since the majority of us won’t be able to visit the museum in person,
feel free to take a video tour.

The drama and the history are exciting and for someone who already loves history,
anything Pony Express thrills me.

But, here’s the best part of the story.

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Each of the Pony Express riders were given a Bible.
Even though they traveled light, and often were required to kill their own food,
the founders considered the Bible important enough to be carried.

I have always been encouraged by the desire of these men
to honor the Lord with their business.
I like to wonder if any of those daring, rough young men
ever sat by their campfire at night,
gnawing at whatever animal they killed,
and read a few verses.

Did they look up at the night sky and ponder the Creator?

And if you’re wondering about anything else on this subject,
here’s a wonderful online list of all topics concerning the Pony Express.

Cheryl Harness gripped my heart with her conclusion,

“The brave young riders and their ponies helped to make a nation happen…
it’s the ponies and the daring young men who ride in our imagination.
When the wind is in the West,
listen for distant hoofbeats.

It’s the Pony Express.”

Can ya’ hear it?

A Corn Cob Doll Is Not One of Our Favorite Things

My girls have always loved dolls, probably because I love dolls.

I love dishes and tea sets and fake food of all sizes and kinds. Sometimes I buy toys just for me.

 

I was slightly disappointed when my kids grew up and didn’t want toys for Christmas. They wanted boring stuff like clothes and technology.

Sometimes, we bought our teenagers toys, anyway. We want them to always have a spirit of youthfulness and to be able to laugh and have fun.

Just because you’re 18 doesn’t mean you’re too old for a crazy, laughing Elmo doll. Yes, my husband did buy that for Bethany when she turned 18, and yes she did love it. She loved her other presents better, probably, but will always have that amazing memory of getting the coveted and popular Elmo doll, for her 18th birthday.

We began our Corn Cob Doll lesson by discussing Our Favorite Things.

The girls narrowed it down to one doll for a picture.

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The good thing about kids growing up and not wanting toys anymore
is they have kids who want toys.

This is a pic of the lovely Brookelyn with her favorite dolly. (Her mommy is my oldest daughter.) She is such a good mommy to her dolly.

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This is the baby of the family, Rebekah, but don’t call her that, with her favorite baby.

It was a gift from a dear friend, Romance,  because she loves toys, too, and thought all the little girls in her life needed a dolly that ate real food, pooped and peed.

Yes, Baby Alive poops and pees. Brilliant marketing strategy.

The little packets of food and little packages of diapers are outrageously expensive, but outrageously fun.

Beka has to use cloth diapers some of the time. We eventually will learn to make our own baby food. After all, she grew up on homemade baby food, it’s good enough for her dolly, too. 

I can’t fathom Laura playing with a Corn Cob Doll.

I can’t fathom Ma not making her a rag doll sooner.

Sometimes I have a hard time walking a mile in their lace-up shoes.

We weren’t sure if we were supposed to dry the cob with the corn on or off.

We opted for eating the corn off.

 

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The first time I bought corn, I forgot it in the fridge. When we remembered to cook it, we forgot to save the cobs. I bought more. I was determined to finish the project.

We shucked the corn.

I boiled it.

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We ate it.

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Grandbaby Maddelyn loved the corn and gnawed and gnawed and gnawed.

She reminded me of my Aunt Hedi, the family record holder for eating 12 cobs of corn at a family reunion.

Aunty might have some serious competition soon.

Since the corn cobs weren’t dry, we decided to make a different kinda’ doll.

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We used large beads, dowels and chenille stems, although I have called them pipe cleaners my entire life.

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We added the corn husks and just tied it on.

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We thought corn silk would make adorable hair.

They were pretty cute, until they shriveled up and looked ridiculous. It might work better to dry the husks flat in books, then try gluing them on the dowels.

STRIKE ONE.

(If you want to make authentic corn husk dolls, check out Native American Life Living Art.)

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I scraped the rest of the corn off the cob, hoping it would dry sooner.

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I left these on the counter, clearly marked, of course.

They didn’t dry well, so I tried something else.

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I twisted wire around them and hung them outside to dry.

I forgot about squirrels.

I brought the only cob in the house, put it on the counter, and forgot about the children.

Thinking they were “helping me” they threw it out. (Now you know why I labeled the cobs the first time.)

After digging through the garbage bags, yes, we did that, I’m a mighty determined woman, we found the lone Survivor.

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There ya’ go. 

The cob that survived the Squirrel Attack
and the Kitchen Cleaning Frenzy.

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Beka is clearly excited about the long-awaited day.

Really.

I’m going to play with a corncob.

I can hardly wait.

 

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Trying to make it a little more enticing, she picked out a favorite vintage handkerchief.

We WERE going to finish this project.

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It wasn’t fun.
We couldn’t even pretend it was fun.

The instructions were to play with this doll only for one day.

After school we were running an errand and Beka wanted to bring a doll. I reminded her of her assignment, and asked if she would bring the Corn Cob Doll.

The look on her face let me know it would be a humiliation beyond comprehension, ya’ know the kinda’ family tale of woe the kids repeat behind your back for generations to come.

“You think that’s bad, how about the time Mom made me bring a Corn Cob Doll everywhere I went?  I am scarred for life.”

We left the Corn Cob Doll and grabbed Baby Alive. The cob ended up back in the garbage can. I should have given it back to the squirrel, he would have appreciated it.

Weeks of planning, preparation and it was
STRIKE TWO
for Corn Cob Dolls.

Even though the dolls were failure, the lesson wasn’t.

How can you NOT be thankful for the bountiful blessings we have when staring into the face of one pathetic corn cob that is compost/garbage to us,  but a toy to a previous generation?

How can you not admire little Laura who tried really hard to play with her pathetic doll and be thankful and not jealous of Mary?

If the essence of thankfulness
burns into Rebekah’s heart and mind,
the project won’t have a
STRIKE THREE.

Snow Candy is Better Than No Candy

As a young bride, I received the bestest gift in the world. 

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I was thrilled  because even though I’d cooked most of my life,
I  wasn’t a great cook.  I wasn’t even a good cook.

Back then, I’d marvel at other women’s cookbooks, with their wrinkled, splattered pages, and marvel at the longevity of their marriages and their culinary skills.

Now I know the truth, a splattered, tattered cookbook doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good cook.

It could just mean you’ve spilled a lot on your cookbook.

One thing I have mastered is candy making. I don’t make a variety, but I can make
hard candy, caramel, and fudge. I also dip a lot of junk in chocolate and white chocolate. But, now that I’m thinking about it, I guess that doesn’t really make me a master candy maker.

But, I do know the stages of candy making.

When we were kids, my little brother Allan was always the adventurer, the one to figure out stuff. In a clearance bin at the Capital Hill Mall in Helena, MT,  he found a little vial of apricot flavoring. He was told it was flavoring for homemade candy.

He figured the $.25 to buy the flavoring to make a batch of candy, would give him a higher yield than buying $.25 worth of candy.

So, he opened my mom’s cookbook, found a recipe and made apricot hard candy.

We’ve been making hard candy ever since.

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I diligently typed this out with an old fashioned typewriter I musta’ borrowed  and glued it on the very back page.

I’ve trusted this chart over any candy thermometer I ever purchased.

Here’s a great website that explains how to do the cold water candy test.
They recommend using a candy thermometer and the cold water test while you’re making candy.

Candy making is simple.  You boil a sugar mixture until it’s the right stage.
Then you eat it.

Icing or glaze is cooked to thread stage.

Fudge is cooked to soft ball stage.

Divinity is cooked to firm ball stage.

Caramel is cooked to hard ball stage.

Toffee  and salt water taffy are cooked to soft crack stage.

Lollipops and peanut brittle are cooked to hard crack stage.

The longer you cook it, the harder it gets.
Easy Peasy.

Ma Ingalls  made molasses candy for her kids. I can imagine her dropping little bits of the candy into a bowl of cold water, explaining the stages to her girls.  I
can also imagine their impatience. It takes a LONG time to make candy.

We found the recipe for Snow Candy on a website by HarperCollins for Children.
They have a lot of valuable resources for Little House on the Prairie series,
including the recipes, quizzes, teacher resources and biographies. 

Since I am such an expert candy maker, I thought this would be a cinch.

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How hard could it be?  Two ingredients, a kettle, something to stir with and some snow.

That’s right.  I needed snow.  The sun was shining, I was dreaming about sun bathing, but  I needed snow.

I live in a place, FINALLY, after decades in North Dakota, where there is almost no snow.

Since I grew up with the survivalist mentality of Make-Do-or-Do-Without, I knew I could conquer this.

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With our little Igloo, we made snow.

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With my cookbook propped open to teach Rebekah the candy stages, we began our Candy Making Quest.

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However, as soon as she dumped in the two ingredients, she bailed.

She was playing Bananagrams on the dining room  table, ”because I’m practicing Spelling, Mom.”

I was going to say something, then realized we were really following Little House protocol.

Ma made the candy, the kids waited impatiently.

So, with all the pioneer spirit I could muster, I stirred and stirred and stirred, calling her over when I was dropping stuff in the water.

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Then I stirred some more.

Notice how cleverly I magneted the recipe to my stove?

Notice how I didn’t clean off the counters for that perfect blog picture?

Notice the double chin I don’t know how to Photoshop off?

Yea, so this is the real deal, here folks.

No “I have the perfect life” fake bloggy stuff for me.

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If ya’ happen to be stirring and stirring, and your rubber spatula is getting smaller and smaller, ya’ better take out  a wooden spoon to stir until you can go out  and buy a new spatula.

Candy making is challenging on those things, and I  have the proud claim to fame that I’ve melted a Pampered Chef spatula while making candy. This one is from one of those expensive cooking stores.

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Remember my bragging about my candy making skills? This thick stuff was hard to test.

At the end I wait for the candy to speak to me, because when  it’s at the hard crack stage it will literally crack in the water.  I usually yell at the kids, “Be quiet!  Be quiet!  I can’t hear my candy!”

The molasses candy wasn’t cracking a lot, but it was starting to smell burnt.

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We pulled it off the burner and  tried swirling designs on our “snow” like Laura and Mary.

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Yea, so big deal.  No fancy designs that would be worth writing about in my memoire.

I poured the rest in a buttered pan.  As it cooled, we began playing with it.

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OK, so we had a few shining moments. The ribbon candy is kinda’ cute.

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Just don’t leave your utensils in the pan with the candy, like I did.

How did it taste, you wonder?

If you like molasses, you would like this candy. If you hadn’t had sugar or sweets for a year, like Laura and Mary who are thrilled to get one piece of candy on the rare occasion Pa goes to town, you would like this candy.

But, if you’ve eaten Laffy Taffy or a Jolly Rancher, you’ll be thankful you weren’t a pioneer child.

So, to not leave you hanging on the verge of disappointment, I’m gunna’ give ya’ a freebie.

My favorite candy recipe.

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It’s amazing.  I always thought it was interesting that there is no added flavoring, but it really is butterscotch.

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It’s delicious, I promise.

And it will REALLY make you thankful you aren’t a pioneer kid
who’d never seen a town and had to be content crunching on molasses candy.

Why Do Weasels Pop?

We’ve all grown up with the song Pop Goes the Weasel. It was a favorite folk tune when Pa played it on his violin for his family,
it’s still a favorite for kids today.

However, when I was a kid, I didn’t even know what a weasel was.  It wasn’t a species common to Montana.
I didn’t know what a cobbler was, either, or why he had a bench.

It was a catchy tune, with tricky lyrics.

You can look up weasel on the New World Encyclopedia website, but they use a lotta’ big words.
It’s Monday.  I don’t do big words on Monday.  Wait, it’s Tuesday.  I don’t do big words on Tuesday, either.

Here’s a source from the Hylebos Wetlands with smaller words.
Short words are my friends when I’m tired and school must go on.

But, I read enough to learn that even though we think negatively about the weasel,
who by tradition is sneaky and annoying, he provides something useful.
We love ermine, ya’ know, the white fur kings and queens use to trim their purple robes?
That’s  a weasel’s winter wear.
In high elevations, the weasels turn white in the winter, creating the much-desired fur.

No wonder the cobbler was chasing the weasel.
He wanted to make some ermine-trimmed boots!
I would SO wear them, just not in Washington, the animal activist state.

While Rebekah was looking up information on the weasel, I noticed she left the section for DIET blank.

“Rebekah, why didn’t you write down what he eats?  It’s right there in the dictionary.”

“What he eats?  I’m supposed to write down what he eats?  OH.  Because for a woman a diet is what she doesn’t eat.”

Good point, my dear, it’s no wonder you couldn’t finish your homework.
Women do complicate life, don’t they?

Weasels are like brothers, in that they use a anal secretion to ward off enemies.
That’s the fancy Science way of saying fart, but maybe you don’t use that word in your home.
My teacher husband got reprimanded by the principal for using this F word in the classroom years ago.
Apparently, a parent called quite offended.
Now he works in the business world where the F word they use is not the anal secretion word.

The antidote for a weasel bite is monkey secretion.  EEWWWW, is that like monkey pee? Or would that be monkey spit?
Anyway, if you’re hiking in the US and you get bit by a weasel, you’re going to have to run to the nearest zoo.

While we were pondering what the secretion was, we found a map showing our entire state is a habitat for long-trailed weasels.

Then, we found out the collective name for a group is a boogle, gang, pack and confusion.

Bing Images supplies pictures of weasels and tracks to make drawings.

But, after the research, we’re still confused about the popping of the weasel.
Why don’t we have Weasels in our Jack in the Boxes instead of a scary clown?
That would be  a popping weasel.

Just wondering.

Of course, we had to visit YouTube, the intellectually stimulating website.
OK, it’s a site where you can waste a lot of time, but we found what we were looking for.

Pop Goes the Weasel

If you want to hear the Cedarmont Kids sing a cute version, click the link.

 

David Scrivener is actually play Pop Goes the Weasel on Pa Ingall’s violin!

If ya’ wanna’ play and sing with your kids, here is sheet music.
It’s a little high.  You can play an octave lower, or stand on your tippy-toes.

There’s a lot of different verses, but Pa sang a scandalous one,
about the preacher kissing the cobbler’s wife.
That would be enough to make the weasel pop.

After my diligent research, OK two sites and Wikipedia,
nobody seems to know what POP GOES THE WEASEL means.

Isn’t that the way it is?

So, the fact remains.  If you’re hiking in Washington and you run into a boogle of weasels and the anal secretion doesn’t warn you in time and you are bitten,
you better run, don’t walk,  to the nearest zoo for a monkey secretion antidote.

 

First Day of School!

I was so excited to jump into blog journey through
The Prairie Primer,
 
I didn’t start at the beginning,
which is a very good place to start.

I even blogged  about how I organize our curriculum.

 

Welcome Back!

After a cup of coffee,
I wrote a greeting in my best Palmer Cursive. 
How did our teachers write against a wall?

It’s not a feat for teachers with a weak back or shaky hands.

My mom, who taught in a one-room school in North Dakota,
has the very best cursive in the whole, wide world. 
I spent hours practicing, even in college,
trying to imitate her handwriting.


I never could.

First Fourth Grade Math Lesson

Beka loves her desk, a $30 Craigslist find.

We’re using a 1930’s Arithmetic book,
so she copies each problem first.
(I’ll blog more about this curriculum later)

 

Math Lesson

While homeschooling my children,
I discovered I need to see and touch to learn.
So, I teach that way.

I love using a chalkboard or a whiteboard,
and have invented manipulatives over the years
for concepts we struggled with.
(
Grammar Girl says you can end a sentence with a preposition.)

 

Teaching Tip:
Kids learn in different ways.
Some need to see.
Some need to hear.
Some need to do.
If a concept isn’t easily grasped,


I’ve also learned to listen to what’s important to my kids.
Rebekah asked for our first day be Prairie  for both of us,
in dress, words, names and lunch.

That meant pulling dress-ups over my t-shirt and jean shorts,
and tying the skirt on because I’m not an skinny as my daughters.

She assured me we could have other days as regular people,
but the first day it had to be totally “back-then.”

 

 

Back to School! 012

Recess was running in a long skirt and picking flowers for the teacher.

 

Doncha’ love homeschooling?

Once Rebekah was bemoaning she never “went” to school.
I listened to her Kindergarten complaints, then simply said,

“Do you know when you go to public school,
you have to wear the same clothes ALL day long?
And, you can’t wear dress-ups to school.”

End of conversation.

Back to School! 018

Granddaughter Brookelyn joined us for recess and picked a love offering.

 

 

 

Back to School! 014

I rang the bell and the students came back to class.

 

It was a perfect first day of school,
although we know not all days of homeschooling go this well.


The best days are life rafts
during one of those other kind of days.
We cling to the memory until shore is in sight.

 

Back to School! 021

 

In keeping with First Day of School traditions,
this was my husband’s contribution.
You can read about it
here.
(didja’ notice the wrapper?  didja’ didja’?)

 

No Sympathy really needed for our
First Day of School.

I’d say, it was a Symphony of Success.

 

Can I take off this long skirt now?

Layout of The Prairie Primer

The Prairie Primer was published in 1993 by Margie Gray when she discovered a lack in homeschooling curriculum.

She filled a huge void.

Gray defines her book as a “Literature Based Unit Studies for Grades 3-6 Utilizing the “Little House” Series.

prairie-primer-001_thumb

I heard about this curriculum years ago,  when an acquaintance used it with great enthusiasm and success.  At the end of the school year, she and her daughters took a field trip and visited as many places featured as possible. They read, cut, colored, crafted and cooked their way through school.

I wanted to be that kind of homeschool mommy when I grew up.

At that stage of my life, I always had a baby in the womb and usually one on the hip, so doing anything other than traditional worksheets was out of the question.

It might be debatable about whether I’m grown up, but my kids have, and I feel the liberty to branch out and try a new homeschool approach.
(read the WHY here)

(click on any pic to enlarge)

Weekly Planning Guide

The book is so organized, it makes me wonder what Margie’s linen closet looks like.

Her towels are probably neatly folded, and I’m sure she knows how to fold a fitted sheet.

I added removable tabs on the edge for each week.

Weekly Planning Guide p. 2

For a list-maker, a weekly planning guide for EACH week is awesome.

It gets even better.

Daily Assignment Page
There’s a DAILY list of things to do.

So, all nine books are divided into weeks and days.

The whole year is planned out for you.

If I had known this was so user friendly, I might not have put it off for so long.

Little House in the Big Woods Journal

For each book in the series, we’ll be using a softbound journal, the cheap kind that are usually under a dollar.

We copied the cover of the book and my daughter Mod Podged it on. We called it “crafts” for the day.

Spiral bound notebooks are messy, the pages fall out, the wire unspirals
and puts holes in clothes, and they don’t stack well.

Rust Assignment 001

Since there are so many activities listed for each day, you choose what you want to do. To make sure my daughter isn’t sitting around waiting for me to tell her what to do, I write daily assignments she can do on her own in the journal.

Summer 2012 217

We made binders for storing all the projects, writing and worksheets, with tabbed dividers for each book.

What kinda’ homeschool mommy do you wanna’ be when you grow up?

Back to School! 014

I’m finally the Prairie Momma I dreamed about.

Someone pinch me, please, before I wake up.

Prairie Primer is Prime Way to Begin New Year

I’ve been a mommy for 25 years,
and the majority of that time I have been homeschooling.

My 19th year just started,
but who’s counting?
Apparently, I am.

Do I dare admit,
at the beginning of a new blog,
at the beginning of a new year,
I’m a little burned out?


YES I DO!


I’m not tired of teaching, I’ve always loved school.

I’m not tired of my children,
they were all in my Gifted and  Talented program,
despite not making their beds and brushing their teeth regularly.
I didn’t begin homeschooling because
I was exceptionally brilliant and talented.
I loved my children and wanted to be around them.

I’m tired of reading a few pages and answering a few questions.

B-O-O-O-O-O-R-R-I-I-I-N-G!
The motivation to cross off one more assignment on the weekly goal chart,
had totally lost its thrill and luster,
and our love for learning was being quenched.

We long for time to sew, craft, bake, read, explore, dress-up,
pretend, play with toys, snuggle, and laugh.

Above all, we need to regain our love of learning.

With four students graduated and one entering college,
I am departing
 from the workbook teaching
and am going to a hands-on, literature based learning.

I’m wondering why I waited so long to do this.

This year, we’ll be living, laughing, loving, and  learning  through
Margie Gray’s Prairie Primer,
using all the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder as our educational foundation.

Even if you aren’t using this curriculum this year, I will be sharing all kinds of veteran tricks  hidden up my sleeve, or should I say, for this year, in my apron pocket?

I’d love to have you join us on the adventure.

We intend to fan into flames our love for learning.