The Pioneer Culture: Living Simply

By Holly Giles | Family

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Pioneer Culture: Living Simply

The pioneer culture and Laura Ingalls Wilder have a lot to teach us modern-day folk. We will explore 5 lessons we can learn in this series. The first lesson is living simply. But first, let us learn a little more about Laura and why she can teach us lessons that still apply today.

Laura Ingalls Wilder was fascinating in that she lived during a span of incredible change in America. She grew up on the wild frontier. For example, on the frontier, there was no electricity, and people traveled by wagon.  In addition, people literally lived off the land. Then, Laura lived to be able to fly in an airplane across the ocean and travel through Europe! She experienced change and progress like no other time period in history.

But through it all, Laura always held to her pioneer upbringing and virtues. She found a way to weave those skills, those lessons she learned from childhood into societal and industrial changes.

how to live simply in modern culture

Literature that Changed Childhood

The “Little House” series of books Laura wrote became the most popular children’s books in America. Many of us grew up reading her books. Now, we are introducing our own children to these delightful classics. But when these books first came out, they hit a generation of children who would never experience the frontier, and it was exciting!

Boys could live the adventure of hunting wild animals, building cabins, tanning hides, and chopping wood. Girls could create their own world of rag dolls, maple candy, butter churning, and making a home from nothing. These stories were a fantasy for many children who had never experienced this life.

Why was this frontier life so intriguing?

Well, for the same reason why it is so intriguing today: It was adventurous. The unknown. Life and death, and full of love and relationships.


I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder

No frills, just the basics. Let’s think about this for a moment. Sometimes, when you have so much stuff or have such a full calendar, it’s hard to keep up with it, and it becomes a chore itself.

For example, this could be too many clothes, and toys, too many outside activities away from home, or even too much homeschool curriculum. Can you tweak it for improvement? Maybe do something a different or simpler way? Take away some of the extras? A small change can be a great benefit to the quality of your life.

And it doesn’t just apply to parents either. In fact, it can apply to your kids too. Our children can be excellent examples of how this works. I’m sure you’ve seen this happen in your life before. For instance, your child gets an expensive toy, only to play with the box it came in!

I’ve seen kids have the most fun playing with just a bucket of water, a clothesline, and some old T-shirts for laundry. They were enjoying the experience, not necessarily the tools that created the experience.

Back to basics

But today, we have fallen victim to having to entertain our children and keeping them busy…and that’s what causes the “I’m bored!” syndrome. Society has shifted to stepping in and doing everything or helping kids do every task.

However, it wasn’t like that back in Laura’s day, and I think we can learn from that. Creativity and skills are created and learned when children are bored.

Living simply can be as simple as paring down your calendar to cook more at home. Learn to cook simple food. In other words, learn to stock up on basic food to be able to eat out of your pantry instead of always running to the store. This gives the opportunity to teach your kids to cook.

Finally, learn to bake bread together and use modern tools like a mixer or bread machine to accomplish it. Growing some food. Just one thing. It’s about taking those small steps.

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Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat. In our mad rush for progress and modern improvements, let’s be sure we take along with us all the old-fashioned things worthwhile.”

Join us for the next in the series, Working Hard.

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Learn more about simple living.

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About the Author

Holly Giles is a wife, mother, and storyteller. As an author and Florida Master Naturalist, she writes about heritage homemaking skills, motherhood, and why Florida offers the best hidden natural gems to explore as a family.