Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Long Winter - Prairie Primer 2016

We sure enjoyed out journey through "The Long Winter". When I was a kid, I would often skip this book as I worked my way through the series over and over, thinking it was boring. Now, I find it to be one of my favorite books in the series! The resilience of these pioneers is remarkable as they worked with what they had to keep them warm and fed throughout that horrible winter. We used our coffee-grinder to make flour from wheat berries. It took a long time. I can't imagine grinding enough flour this way to make a loaf of bread. Twice a day they did this. 

We toasted whole wheat bread over the open fire just as they did. 

We tried horehound candy. Only my kids liked it, but they've been eating it since they were little.
Josiah did a presentation on emergency preparedness. He put a great kit together.

Hailey taught us about the water cycle. 
The kids all took turns shaking the cream to make butter during presentation time. What a treat to have fresh butter to go on our whole wheat bread. This is a luxury the Ingalls did not have. They eventually even ran out of lard to put on their bread and just ate it completely plain day after day.
To experience just a taste of what it it would have been like, living in that time period, one evening we did everything by lamplight. We ate and cleaned up all without electricity. 

Then we sat around and listened while I played the fiddle and the kids and Michael played games and we read. It was delightful to unplug for awhile!
The next week, the kids and I made a cake all from things we had on hand to help celebrate Gracia's "Gotcha Day". She was surprised and loved the cake we made her!

Hailey taught us how and why snow drifts. 

Naomi did her presentation on "Snow Blindness". It was very informative.
Gracia taught us about what makes up a chemical solution.
Alli taught us about a chicken's digestive system. 
Josiah explained how to calculate "Windchill Factor".
We had oyster stew for dinner since that is what the Ingalls had for a special treat Christmas Day when Pa bought up the last can of oysters in town. Instead of oyster crackers we used toasted bread same as what the Ingalls used when Pa declared that he thought it even better than oyster crackers!
The girls continued working on their sunbonnets and they are all getting very close to getting done. 

Keep going, Hailey, you can do it! Almost there!
They are getting closer!
The next week, Hailey did her presentation on the differences between wheat flours.

Alli taught us about antelope.

Josiah showed us several different fire-starting techniques. One was a potato fire starter, but he couldn't get it to work.
He had better luck with his magnesium bar. 
We finished the book with a feast of buckwheat pancakes, turkey, gravy, cornbread stuffing and homemade cranberry sauce.
And of course, a slice of whole wheat bread! We rejoiced with the Ingalls when we read that their Christmas turkey finally came in on the train in May and it was still frozen solid! What a feast they had after a winter of deprivations. 

This book is a great reminder of how when we put our minds to it, we can be resourceful when we need to be. We can do without in hopes that better times are coming. It always amazes me that they never did have to kill their cow although it must have been very tempting. That would have been a huge loss for the family. They made it work, just barely, so that they didn't have to kill Ellen or even her calf. 

We can all learn from these books. There is something in everyone of them that speaks to me just where I'm at in life while I'm reading it. These books really are timeless!

God Bless,


magnoliasntea said...

Hi Jackie, I loved seeing photos of all the presentations. Homeschoolers are the best. ;)
The first time I read the Little House books I thought The Long Winter would neeeeevverr end. lol However, it wasn't so bad the last time I read the books. You're never too old for that series.
Have a great week!

Michelle said...

I have never read The Long Winter! But we are doing the PP this year. It's fun to see your beautiful family bring this book alive. Love all the smiles and happy faces. :)

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I hated that book. Maybe I need to reread it. you have have done such a good job showing others how to do this unit study. You are an awesome teacher!


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