Friday, November 30, 2012

Pretending to be Pioneers ~ Precious Playtime

"All alone in the wild Big Woods, and the snow, and the cold,
the little log house was warm and snug and cosy.
Pa and Ma and Mary and Laura and Baby Carrie
were comfortable and happy there, especially at night."
Little House in the Big Woods

Little children love to dress up and pretend. A few books can inspire a pioneering spirit in your home. It will implement the good values and hard, honest work that are being lost in today's "gimme" society.  A childhood with these simple amusements will yield beautiful fruit (Galatians 6:7 ).

"And then, Pa told stories.
When Laura and Mary begged him for a story,
he would take them on his knees and
tickle their faces with his long whiskers until they laughed aloud.
His eyes were blue and merry."

Read to your children… Books are the best way to open up a hobby in the home. When reading a book like Little House in the Big Woods, you will be surprised at how quickly they create a pioneer playtime themselves. We began reading chapter books at the age of four (this one is appropriate for that age) and have had great success. They are learning about history and do not even realize they are being educated. I suggest reading a chapter a day together and then offering them the use of the My First Little House Series books for further pictorial inspiration. These will really inspire both boys and girls toward healthy and historical fun, the old fashioned way...

Summertime in the Big Woods (My First Little House)

County Fair (My First Little House)

Going West (My First Little House)

Winter Days in the Big Woods (My First Little House Books)

Winter on the Farm (My First Little House)

Sugar Snow (My First Little House)

Going to Town (My First Little House)

Prairie Day (My First Little House)

Dance at Grandpa's (My First Little House)

The Deer in the Wood (Little House)

Cook with your children… Choose some recipes to cook together from the Little House Cookbook and make a pioneer style meal together. Or, some biscuits and gravy recipes from your own collection would work out just as well!

Another fun kitchen activity would be to make some butter out of cream. All you need is a jar with heavy cream and some little, helping hands.

Playact with your children… Enjoy an evening together with only candlelight like Laura's family…

Make a simple coonskin style hat for your son to wear (or you can find one here)...

Make a simple bonnet for your daughters to wear (or you can find one here)...

Encourage a working lifestyle... If you live in the city, visit a working farm where your children may be allowed to milk a cow, feed animals and do farm chores. Children in the city can also pull weeds,  be responsible for pets and do other daily outdoor work (which would be just as valuable). If you live on a homestead, I do hope you involve your young ones with jobs such as feeding the chickens or taking care of the smaller animals. Good old fashioned work is what they need to encourage future industry. We don't grow up and instantly become hard workers, we need to nurture that now (in proper doses) so that it is a natural part of life for our children (Genesis 3:19).

"Father and Almanzo tramped through the falling snow in the woods, looking for straight, small oaks. When they found one, Father chopped it down. He chopped off all the limbs, and Almanzo piled them up neatly."

Have children collect and stack firewood for the "winter". Little children can collect piles of sticks for kindling.

Color with your children… Here are some pioneer inspired pictures that can be printed out.

"After the day's work was done,
Ma sometimes cut paper dolls for them.
She cut the dolls out of stiff white paper,
and drew the faces with a pencil.
Then from bits of colored paper she cut dresses and hats,
ribbons and laces, so that Laura and Mary
could dress their dolls beautifully."

Craft with your children… Make your own paper dolls like Ma (instructions above) or you can print out these paper dolls for free. You may also like to create a corncob doll wrapped in a handkerchief like Laura had.

Enjoy music with your children... There are some fun, historical songs from Laura Ingalls Wilder books that have been recorded for our listening pleasure. It really enhances the stories to hear these!

Enjoy this precious time with your little pioneers! Everything is new to your children so read to them and expose them to all the good things in life…

All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them). All the black and white illustrations are by Garth Williams.


  1. I love this! We just got back from the library and took out all of the My First Little House books and for the older kids we found Little House chapter books that would be a condensed version of the original books. Thank you for bringing those books to our attention! What a treasure!!

    1. Oh I am so glad! When I first found those picture books, I was SO excited. They are a treasure :) It is surprising how little well known they are...

  2. I have just stumbled upon your blog and am enjoying it very much. Much of these we do with our little ones but it's always good to be reminded of what I've forgotten or want to pick back up. We *love* Little House. We have the books and DVD's. Both excellent and encouraging.

    Thank you for sharing!


    1. Thank you for all the kind words and sharing here today. It really makes my day :)

  3. My children, all the way up to my teen boys, love the LHOTP series. This summer we listened to all the books on tape. I haven't been by here in awhile, but I'm so glad to "see" you, JES!!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. We are on THE LONG WINTER right now and feel so grateful for our current way of life. These pioneers were tough! Such an inspiration!

  4. My heart melts at the photos on this page.....tis the simple things in life that are so precious.

    1. I certainly agree JEM :) Thanks for sharing!

  5. Love this post, my friend. Little House books are some of my children's favorites. Last night, we started reading Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol". They loved it - you could have heard a pin drop while I was reading it. :)

    Since we live on a farm, everyone has to help out, and the children actually like the responsibility of having chores. They like knowing that they are an important part of our "team". We have also made homemade butter - delicious!

    Many blessings!

  6. I have just started reading Little House with my 4-year-old daughter. We read one chapter a night with Daddy, who loves the books as much as she does! It's been a great bonding experience for us.

    I appreciate all the great ideas you've suggested to extend reading into something! I think my daughter will like this too.

    I am new to your blog and am a new follower. I found you on Artful Homemaking's linkup.

    1. Oh, our daughter was 4 when we started reading it too :) Enjoy your precious young ones! Playing pioneers was one of the most popular pastimes in our home.

  7. My mom started to read us the original series during a car trip when my sister and I were 3 and 5 respectively. Later we put our underpants on our heads and pulled our hair through the leg holes in our version of Laura and Mary's nightcaps and pigtails.

    1. That is funny! That just goes to show how much our imaginations are active when reading good books :)

  8. I love all of your ideas! We have read the Little House books many times together as a family, and our little ones have grown up with the "My First Little House" series. They are favorites here! I started reading these books when I was 9, so it's been such a pleasure to pass on the tradition. My husband also read all of the books to me during my first pregnancy when I was so sick that I couldn't do anything other than lie in bed for 5 months, so these books hold many happy memories for me.

    I have really enjoyed watching them dress as pioneer ladies and pretending to be Mary and Laura and Carrie. :)

    Thanks again for sharing all of your creative ideas!

    1. Ahh :) Thank you for sharing all the sweet memories!

  9. I always loved the Little House series! I have had trouble getting my three boys interested, though. They enjoyed Farmer Boy, but I kinda had to force them to listen to it for a while before they realized that they enjoyed it. :) -Jamie

    1. I am sure your boys would love SIGN OF THE BEAVER! That takes place in the colonial times, great survival story! Thanks for sharing here today :0

  10. What a great resource this post is! :) I didn't know about the "My First Little House" series! I will have to look into finding those. My kids love watching the series. Thank you so much for all the info! :)

  11. We are HUGE Little House fans here. We had popcorn and apple cider yesterday as we read about Almanzo doing the same in Farmer Boy, and last fall we made a Green Pumpkin Pie like Ma did in the Long Winter

    1. We made that same pie… Not our favorite but very fun :)

  12. Hi Jes, Some of your pictures aren't showing up right on this post. I thought you'd want to know.

    This was a terrific post that reminded me of when my children were little. Little House in the Big Woods was a particular favorite at our house.

    1. Yes, thank you! I will have to change out the codes... I appreciate you letting me know! :)