- Education and Science
Homeschooling with Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie
Some of my most beloved homeschooling memories date back to the year our homeschool co-op studied Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” series. We would read portions of the books on our own, and then get together for discussion and fun book-based activities.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was an author, teacher, pioneer, farmer, wife, and mother, who lived from 1867-1957, a very eventful period of American history. Her parents were pioneers in the Midwest, moving the family from place to place. Laura started teaching in one-room schoolhouses when she was only fifteen. In 1885, Laura Ingalls married Almanzo Wilder. They had one daughter, Rose, and one son who died soon after he was born. Laura witnessed great changes in America, and her eyewitness accounts are fascinating and educational.
A Homeschooler's Testimony
- Confessions of a Homeschooler
My parents homeschooled me for twelve and a half years, and I survived. And so did my parents. I attended a Christian private school for a few months in kindergarten before my parents pulled me out to start...
Here are some activities you can do with your children as you read the books:
Make a corncob doll. After enjoying corn-on-the-cob at dinner, dry the cobs in the microwave. Glue beads and buttons for facial features (or use a permanent marker). Poke sticks or wooden skewers into the cob for arms. Glue yarn for hair. Wrap a small piece of fabric around the doll’s body and tie with a ribbon.
Drink buttermilk. Buy some buttermilk for your children to taste, to see what Laura used to drink. Your children probably won’t drink very much, so use the leftovers for baking.
Play with a pig bladder ball. I know this sounds weird, but Laura used to love playing with this homemade toy! When we did this when I was a kid, I was too grossed out to actually touch the ball, but the other kids seemed to enjoy it. I’m not sure exactly how to go about doing this, but somehow obtain a pig’s bladder, blow air into it, and tie it off.
Decorate a Christmas tree. To give your Christmas tree an old-fashioned look, deck it out with popcorn strings. Tie candy in mosquito netting bags and hang them on the branches. To make paper streamers, cut circles of colored paper into spiral shapes so that the paper hangs down in curls.
Make a clove apple or orange. Tie your fruit with a ribbon so that it can hang in your closet or on a doorknob. Stick whole cloves into the skin of the fruit (you may need to use a toothpick to make holes). The spicy scent is perfect for Christmas!
Make a button necklace. String lots of different colorful buttons onto thread or yarn to make a bracelet or necklace like the one Mary and Laura made for Carrie.
Eat homemade candy. Heat one cup molasses and one cup brown sugar in a large pot and boil until a drop of the candy forms a hard ball and cracks when dropped in cold water. Squiggle the hot candy over a pan of snow to harden. Then dry on a towel.
Sew a patchwork quilt. Piece together squares of different calico and other cotton fabrics. Quilt your top layer to batting and a backing.
Dress up in costume. Do research into period costume and make clothing for your kids to dress up in.
Cook or bake. Look up some recipes for gingerbread or johnnycakes.
Put on a play. You and your children can take different characters and make the story come to life! I remember reciting Carrie’s lines at a Little House seminar-type thing one time – probably one of my first public-speaking experiences.
Laura Ingalls Wilder's Homes
- Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum
- De Smet, South Dakota
- Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum - Laura Ingalls Wilder's childhood home in Iowa
- Wilder Museum
- Pepin, Wisconsin, A Storybook Village on Lake Pepin
- Wilder Homestead, Boyhood Home of Almanzo
- Little House on the Prairie - Official Location
Take a field trip. Laura lived in many different places throughout her life. If you live near any of the Ingalls family’s homesteads, schedule a field trip that the whole family can enjoy.
Pepin, Wisconsin – Little House Wayside (Laura’s birthplace)
Independence, Kansas – cabin replica
Walnut Grove, Minnesota – dugout along Plum Creek
Burr Oak, Iowa – Masters Hotel where the Ingalls family lived 1876-77
De Smet, South Dakota – home from 1879-94
Mansfield, Missouri – Rocky Ridge Farm, home of the Wilders
Malone, New York – Almanzo Wilder’s boyhood home
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