Prairie Life Week Seven




Read chapters eight and nine this week.


Copy the quote above for copywork or narration this week.

Laura has learned what a “sugar snow” is. Laura and Mary each got maple sugar candy from Grandpa. Pa explains the process of tapping the maple trees, how he collects the sap and boils it down to make maple sugar. Have you ever eaten maple candy? It was my favorite treat from my grandparents each year.

The dance at grandpa’s was the highlight of the year. Watching all of the adults dance, laugh and having fun made the children feel happy. Ma dressed in her finest gown and all the family helped for the sugaring off of the syrup.

Laura and Mary also get to go into the town of Pepin. They had never been to town before. Can you imagine never having gone to the store with your mother? Picture in your mind how Laura and Mary felt at all the new sights and sounds. All the new things they saw and how it might have made them feel.

Life Skill: Soap Making

Making soap was a family chore just like making butter. Each family made their own soap. They would make many bars at one time to last as long as possible. I would assume Ma would have made her soap in the spring and summer to carry over the rest of the year. Making soap in the winter would be more difficult. Many pioneering families made soap in a big kettle over an open fire and not indoors.

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Lye is an important ingredient that uses potassium to harden soap. Ma could not go to the store and buy it, so she made it. Lye was traditionally made by soaking the white ash from a fire in water. The longer you soak the ash, the more potent the water becomes for soap making. Once the water is ready, you boil it and add tallow or animal fat. Ma would have saved the fat from hogs to use for soap. The main ingredients in pioneer soap were lye and animal fat. It doesn’t sound like ingredients we would want in our soap today!

We will show you how to make modern-day soap with a pioneering twist. Abby and Julia help me make hot press soap which is a shorter process than regular soap making. The video is in the heading of this week’s lesson.

The recipe for the soap we made can be found HERE.

Family Time:

This week plan a family pioneer dinner. All the children should play a role in setting the scene for the dinner table. Re-visit the table manners skills and table setting video and set a proper table. Prepare simple foods that Laura and her family might have eaten and have your dinner by candle or lantern light.

Have each child choose their favorite passage or story in the book so far. Let them read it aloud to the family or share it in their own words. Share favorite parts of the book club with each other and your parents, especially if dad has not been able to be involved yet.

Put aside modern conveniences and distractions for this special family meal. No cell phones, Ipads, television or computer games. Play a game of checkers, dominoes, or other simple games with the family. Take a family photo of your meal and table setting.



Harvesting and preserving meat is a big part of the Ingall’s family life. Pa bringing home meat and curing it in several ways to eat over a long period of time was important for their survival. Grocery stores like we have today was unheard of, however, don’t you think Ma might have loved to browse around? Now, if you want meat you buy it pre-packaged at the grocery store and you can buy it already cooked too.

Grayson is a hunter and has been providing meat for our family for two years. He hunts deer, turkey, and duck. In this video, he shows you how to make your own venison jerky. Jerky is a process of curing raw meat in salt and other spices and then drying it over a period of time at a controlled temperature. Do you like jerky? You can find beef jerky at most grocery stores. Venison or deer, generally cannot be purchased because it is considered a wild game. The deer meat Grayson uses in this video is from one he harvested last year in Pennsylvania. Find Grayson’s recipe here.


Buffalo gals was the song that Laura recalls being played and danced to during the evening of the sugaring-off party. Diana Waring has put together a musical memory book and CD of music from Laura’s time period. She made a short video about the sugaring off party and plays the song Buffalo Gals. You can watch that video from her Facebook page HERE.


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