What About Those Missing Years?

Shores of Silver Lake

 

As soon as we  cracked open the new Little House book, we had a few surprises. (click on links below to find sites to validate times, places and events)

 

Laura is now a teenager.  There are three missing years, since the Ingalls family only lived in their Plum Creek dugout from 1874-1876.

 

Between reading Shores on Silver Lake and doing research, we discovered some pain in those three years.

1. Ingalls family moved to Iowa and back. While there Pa helped run the Masters Hotel.  (See amazing  photos here. Really amazing photos.)

2. They had a son named Frederick who died. 

3. The family faced Scarlet Fever and Mary lost her sight.

4. Ma and Pa disagreed over moving west for several years.

 

As a wife and mom, my heart ached for Ma. Losing a child would be pain enough, but add in illness and poverty and I can only imagine how Ma was able to keep waking each morning. Some people air their pain like laundry on a clothesline, others hide it away.  But, it never goes away.  In one place I read, Ma was known to have claimed things would have turned out differently if only Frederick had lived. Laura loses a son, as does her daughter, Rose.  The family chooses to say very little about their pain, but we know it goes deep.

 

As a very young mom, I met a dear older woman who was visiting our fellowship and I asked if she had children.  The tears began flowing. She struggled for words to tell me about the death of one of her children.  Even though the death had occurred over 50 years ago, and she wasn’t bitter or angry at the Lord, she still missed that child.

 

My imagination and my experience in life fills in the blanks about these missing years.

 

 

I feel a little annoyed each time Pa decides to move them again, I long for them to settle.  This is the first time you get the idea that Ma actually put her foot down and kept it there for two years.

p. 3  “Pa did not like a country so old and worn out that the hunting was poor.  He wanted to go west.  For two years he had wanted to go west and take a homestead, but Ma did not want to leave the settled country. And there was no money.”

 

 

When a relative showed up offering him a job, Pa made a quick decision to pack the wagon and move to Dakota Territory.

p. 4 “Ma still did not want to go west.”

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Docie had driven her wagon 196 miles to offer Pa a mouth-drooling salary of $50 a month to run her husband’s store. They have another 111 miles to go fro Minnesota to Dakota Territory.

Pa sold his entire farmstead for $200.  He has a chance to make $600 a year, enough to buy three farmsteads.  No wonder he didn’t wait very long to answer. 

p. 6 “I hope it’s for the best, Charles,” Ma replied, “But how –“

“Wait till I tell you!  I’ve got it all figured out,” Pa told her.  I’ll go on with Docia tomorrow morning.  You and the girls stay here till Mary gets well and strong, say a couple of months…you’ll all come out on the train.”

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Ma lifted her foot and Pa left her alone with two small children, one teenager and a newly blind teenager. 

 

 

p. 7  “I am sure we will manage nicely with Laura and Carrie to help me.”

 

With amazing strength of spirit, Ma accepts more change,  loneliness and having to start over again.

 

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.

Hark! Who Goes There?

You wouldn’t have to ask that question if you could identify tracks.

But, lemme’ take you the long way around to that lesson.

Over Labor Day, hubby and I took Rebekah on a hike in the mountains.

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OK, in reality, we spent a lot of time in the car oohing and aahing over the mountains

 

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and eating snacks from a roadside gas station
that cost way too much.

 

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But, we did get out and hike for a little while.

Nice groomed trails.
Does this really count as hiking?

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Yea, it does.

We also had an unexpected Science lesson.
I love unintentional learning!

Pops and Rebekah wanted to hike around the lake.
I wanted to sit. I was tired.  Seriously.
I also wanted to take pics while sitting.

They enjoyed some Father-Daughter time.

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When they came back, Rebekah was able to identify the split hoof tracks from an elk.

 

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I could easily identify the track from the Great American North-Faced Hiker.

 

Pa and Laura had a similar experience as they drove their sled through the Big Woods to Grandpa’s.

“Pa showed Laura the tracks of the wild creatures in the snow
at the sides of the road.
The small, leaping tracks of cottontail rabbits, the tiny tracks of field mice,
and the feather-stitching tracks of snowbirds.
There were larger tracks, like dogs’ tracks, where foxes had run, and there were the tracks of a deer that had bounded away into the woods.”

(Little House in the Big Woods, p. 132-133) 

Pioneer families needed to identify animal tracks for their survival.
Remember Aunt Eliza’s tale of her dog Prince not letting her out of the cabin?
Uncle Peter found huge panther tracks around their homestead.

 

Creation Science

I pulled out my favorite Science Curriculum, Considering God’s Creation,
and used several animal tracks activities.

It is more fun for me to cut and paste than to just read and answer questions,
so I am a huge fan of this curriculum.  I’ve used it for all my kids.

It easily can be used as your primary Science book
or to supplement others.
Most kids think it is so fun, they don’t know it’s school.

SSHHHH! Don’t tell them!


Some activities, like on Creation, would be wonderful for
Sunday school, VBS or Kids Bible Clubs.

 

*****

Here is a tracking guide you can print out and take with you
if you want to investigate your neighborhood,
that is, in case you have any wildlife other than
the Great American North-Faced Hiker.

 

This is a more detailed chart of animal tracks chart you can buy.

 

This blog has a fun activity to play with a peanut butter mixture
to leave your own tracks, then eat them.

*****

Now, go test your skills
and see if you can identify more species than Momma Mindy.

 

Buffalo Gals Come Out at Night

Of course,  you mention the song “Buffalo Gal” to my family and they’re giggling about the scene with  George and Mary in  “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Yea, this one.  The “interesting predicament” and “why don’t ya’ just kiss her” one.

Sometimes, we don’t realize how long a song has been an American tradition.

This song was published in 1844 by John Hodges.  It was an oldie to Pa when he played it on his fiddle in 1870’s, to us it’s ancient history at 168 years old.

LOVED THIS!

If ya’ wanna’ watch buffalo while ya’ listen to the song again, here ya’ go.

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If ya’ wanna’ sing it yourself, visit Sheet Music Point, a digital archive of public domain sheet music.

Pa’s fiddle was their entertainment.

Radio wouldn’t be available for a few more decades, so obviously television, computers, and Internet aren’t even in their wildest dreams.

The girls had almost no toys, almost no free time, no friends, and had never seen a town.

I’m not sure if Pa really was a great musician, but it brought encouragement at the end of  a hard-worked day.

Our problem today is opposite.  We have too many options, too many stimuli, too many possessions. Our survival isn’t dependent on our ability to kill one bear with one shot,  or can enough food for the winter.

We must stay alive during rush hour, with thousands of distracted and texting commuters on the road.
We must remain driven, focused and ambitious to keep our jobs.
We must discern if the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe are safe for our health.
We run a bajillion errands to a bajillion different places.

Just like Ma and Pa Ingalls, we work hard to survive our lives.

Joshua Bell wasn’t playing “Buffalo Gals”, but he was entertaining the city masses.
Only problem, the commuters didn’t have time to stop and listen to the world famous violinist on his 1713 Huberman  Stradivarius violin  – worth $3.5 million.

The commuters were criticized for not stopping to listen to the man for free, because the cheapest tickets to his performance were $100.

From the article posted with the above Youtube video…

“This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?”

I understand the commuters’ dilemna.

No matter how good Joshua Bell is and the opportunity he provided, it was an unfair experiment.

“Hey, boss, I know I was supposed to meet with our investors, but there was this guy in the subway station…he was really good….I think he was playing Bach…I gave him $2, he looked like he needed it…”

“I know it’s the third time I’ve been an hour late to work, but this musician, he was  fantastic.  I just had to stop and savor the moment.”

“Ya’ know how that motivational speaker came in last month to tell us to appreciate talent in an unexpected context?  I was just taking his advice.  That’s why I missed the important presentation I was supposed to give to the corporate Vice President.”

It wasn’t the people didn’t want to listen, they couldn’t listen. They’re not shooting a bear in protection or a deer for food, they’re surviving a city wilderness.

Pa Ingalls didn’t play his fiddle instead of hunting, or plowing or bartering. At the end of a long day, he pulled out his tool of personal relaxation and family entertainment, and played away. He kept his priorities straight, just like we do.

That’s why this video has received over a million views, because people can relax at the end of the day, appreciate music in its correct context, and not jeopardize their survival.

There’s a reason Buffalo Gals came  out at night to dance in the light of the moon.

Everything’s Better With Butter

 

 

Ma Ingalls followed this simple rule:

Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Churn on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday.

I’ve always done laundry on Monday,
I try to iron on Tuesday,
my mending piles up higher than Wednesday,
and for the first time in my life,
I churned on Thursday.

Laura liked churning and baking days best.
I can understand baking day,
but not churning day.

Churning Butter

This is one of Garth Williams’ beautiful illustrations,
he certainly added delight to my childhood.
He illustrated about 100 children’s books,
you’ll recognize many of the titles.

We bought the full-color collector’s edition,
and were thrilled.
It’s a treasure you’ll want to add to your collection.

(This is page 31 published 2004 by HarperCollins to show you the beauty.)

 

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I kinda’ cheated.  We saw a butter churn like the Ingalls’ at an antique store,
but I was too stingy thrifty to pay that much for one lesson.

This “modern” churn was a gift from a relative years ago.

It was displayed in my kitchen when an older friend walked and said,
”I remember when we got one of those!  It made making butter so much easier.”

Their family felt so high-tech by having one of the first updated churns in their
tiny Minnesotan farm community.

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It was supposed to be so simple, just pour in the cream and turn the handle.

We used two baby food jars half full of cream to involve everyone.

My granddaughter, Brookelyn, loved to
shake, shake, shake,
shake, shake, shake,
shake her butter.

Well, for the first ten minutes, anyway.

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The sun was shining, the fall day was gorgeous, so we had to work outside.

A checkered tablecloth helped set the prairie mood.

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A prairie skirt also helped set the mood for butter making.

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In a short time, it was already thickening.

We were excited.

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A little while later, butter chunks started appearing.

 

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It was so exciting, our neighbor Laura came to join the fun.

She also grew up reading the Little House books,
so was happy to join in our little educational activity.

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Half an hour later, we’re still churning.

 

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It wasn’t so exciting after awhile, so Ma Mindy helped churn
while the girls ran and played.

No prairie skirt for this woman,
I tried that once, and it didn’t fit.
We don’t have a corset like Ma wore in our dress-up bin.
I wear a gut-sucking tank top,
but I wouldn’t be laced in a corset for anything.

 

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Beka’s wardrobe change helped build enthusiasm again.

 

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We were still churning, but it seems we lost progress, instead of gaining.

It’s looked more like whipped cream again instead of butter.

I didn’t know if it was the warm weather,
over churning or under churning.
I do know we were getting a little tired of the adventure.

About 15 minutes of cranking later,
(about hour and a half all together)
we called it “whipped butter” and quit churning.

We were wondering why Laura thought churning was so fun.

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Maybe for this reason.

Homemade biscuits were waiting in the oven, thanks to my oldest daughter, Jana.

 

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She made butter in her kindergarten class years ago,
so was happy her daughter, Brookelyn,
was a participant in our butter festivities.

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The two baby food jars made butter easily,
the kids just shook and shook and it was done more quickly than the large churn.

It’s an easy way to include a lot of kids in the activity if your group is large.

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I loved having three generations of women making butter
and munching down hot bread with butter and honey.

 

But, I was so tired from churning in the hot sun,
it was hard to have ambition to clean on Friday.

I certainly don’t bake on Saturday, it’s a family day,
so I just rested on Friday
and rested on Saturday
and rested on Sunday.

After all, I’m Momma Mindy, not Ma Ingalls.

Snow Candy is Better Than No Candy

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

Betty Crocker Cookbook 001

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.

Candy Stages 001

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.

Dickshunaree Skillz

During our day covering Chapter 5 in Little House in the Big Woods, Ms. Margie Gray
wanted us to cover dickshunaree skillz. 

 

Yea, I’m pretty sure the Ingalls family had a huge dictionary that they packed from
Minnesota, to South Dakota to Missery with them.

The little girl who had to play with a corn cob doll certainly didn’t have a dictionary.
But, I think it’s a fine skill to learn, so I pushed on with my usually joyful abandonment.

That’s a line I read once and I’ve been waiting to use it. 

 

Picking up a dictionary always gives me just a little bit of a frustration flashback.

In the fifth grade, I asked Mrs. Hayes how to spell tongue. 
I was writing an amazing essay on uses for the tongue,
including such wisdom as sticking out your tongue at your brother
behind your parents’ back to annoy them and get them in trouble.

She wouldn’t tell me. With wilting coffee breath foreshadowing her negative command,
she said, “Look it up in the dictionary.”

With all the wisdom a  10 year old can possess, I asked,
“How can I look it up in the dictionary, I can’t spell it?”

She glared at me over her glasses, and I knew the conversation was over.
I was OK that she glared, when she smiled, I had to see her crooked, coffee-stained teeth.

The conversation was over, but not my offense. 
I thumbed through the dictionary with exaggerated huffings and turnings,
mumbled how I couldn’t find it because I couldn’t spell it,
then spelled it TUNG in effigy.

Although Mrs. Hayes discounted my paper for misspelling tongue over and over,
she did take my paper to the teacher’s lounge and had all the other teachers read it.

I guess I won that round.

Dictionary for Children

To my chagrin, (what is chagrin anyway? do you ever use it in speaking or just writing?)
I found myself repeating this instruction to one of my kids years ago.

Then, I repented.  I gave them a little extra advice on how to find a word in the dictionary
when you don’t know how to spell it.

Begin with the first letter.

“T”

Guess at the second letter.
”U”

If you don’t find it, guess again, thinking of other phonetic rules that might impact pronunciation,
in this case, the schwa rule. If looking up tongue, you can kinda rule out “e” and “I” because they
don’t schwa.

“O”

There ya’ go.  You should find your word.

It’s important that kids feel comfortable with a dictionary, it could be their best friend.
OK, maybe I’m exaggerating, but it can’t be their enemy.

Understanding all the different terms is a good way to begin.

 

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This is the outside back cover of the dictionary I use.
My mommy bought it for me.  She is an avid thrift shopper
and has found stacks of great books and workbooks for me over the years.

 

The hardest thing about using a dictionary, is remembering alphabetical order.
At least in math if you forget a fact, you can count on your fingers.
With this, you’re stuck with singing the alphabet song in your head
over
and over
and over
and over.

Just teach your kids to sing silently to themselves,
even if they’re the only child in the classroom.
Someday they’ll be out in the world trying to socialize,
and hometeached people who sing to themselves could be just
a little annoying. A lip-moving-while-thinking person is slightly less weird.
Slightly.

 

(Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 1982)

 

 

Pronunciation Guide

Macmillan also provides a great pronunciation key.

Flip through the dictionary you’re using and familiarize yourself
with all the tools they provide.

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And because homeschoolers sometimes feel left out
if they don’t get worksheets, I made one using Ms. Gray’s
terms and definitions.

You can use it, too.

It’s ain’t perty, it’s ain’t fancy, but I got ‘er dun.

 

So, now you know how to use the dickshunaree.

 

If ewe think I spelt that rong, just go look it up, k?

K.

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.