Plum Creek - Week 1 {Prairie Primer}

Plum Creek was a slow, lazy summer (over three months ago!) unit. It was just what I needed, and we took a long break before starting the next book in the Prairie Primer. I'm behind in sharing, but hope to catch up quick as we have finished Shores and are ready to start Long Winter!

In our last unit, Little House on the Prairie, the Ingalls left Indian Territory and eventually settled again on the banks of Plum Creek. 

Our main project this unit was to study the classification of living things. Instead, I quickly covered it with Eliana and had Malachi do General Science Module 10 - Classifying Life at the beginning of our next unit when school started this fall instead of over the summer, as it tied in with our next unit as well. 

General Activities included reading a biography of Noah Webster, memorize Psalm 51, and sew a nine-patch square, which we did at the very end of this unit. 

This "week", Week 1, we studied willows and the parts of a tree, identified the flowers Laura found on the banks of Plum Creek, did an experiment on heat exchange, and studied badgers, butterflies, bees, water purification, and more. We tasted horehound candy for the first time, had parched corn (Inka Corn Nuts), grew wheat grass, and explored a local pond. 

Day 1: The Door in the Ground, The House in the Ground and Rushes and Flags

Pa trades his wagon team for land, oxen, and an earthen dugout built right into the creek bank. After chores were done, Laura was able to go outside. She played in the creek and saw flags (flowers), rushes (plants), bees, minnows, and water bugs. There was a willow tree by the bank. We read books, found flowers from the book, and became little explorers of creeks and ponds. 

We used How to draw a willow tree to add one to our notebooks.

Since the Ingalls lived in a dugout on Plum Creek, we studied the three methods of heat transfer: conduction, convection, and radiation. 

We heated water by pouring it over hot rocks. 

We have a home built into the side of a hill on our property in Montana, so in the summer it stays cool in the downstairs, even when it is 100 degrees outside. I like to stay nice and cool inside, but I often had to go outside (or upstairs) to warm up!  The earth is an insulator, so the Ingalls stayed comfortable in their little dugout. 

For fun, we made peanut butter cup s'mores using another form of heat transfer: radiation. 

We let them cook while we explored another pond. 

Instead of visiting a water purification plant, we read about one. 

Day 2Deep Water, Strange Animal, and Wreath of Roses 

Pa takes Mary and Laura to the swimming hole up the creek and Laura goes a little too deep. Pa tells the girls to never go to the swimming hole without him, and Laura meets a strange animal, a badger, on her way. Then Laura helps Pa pick out a pretty new milk cow. The girls play on a "tableland" and catch butterflies.  

We have a type of wild coneflower growing around our house in Montana. 

We loved reading about Digger the Badger in Old Man Coyote and also in Burgess Animal Stories. "He has very few friends, for he is grumpy and very apt to be out of sorts." This interesting creature stopped Laura from going to the deep pool. 

We read about them in Exploring Creation with Zoology 1. 

We also watched aWild Kratts clip on an American badgerBadger & Coyotte and then Mali and Elli drew a badger in their notebooks.

Reading about tablelands:

We learned about lichen during our Botany study last summer, so we reviewed what we learned and identified lichen growing at our place in Montana.  

Fruticose lichen 
Day 3: Ox on the Roof, Straw-Stack, and Grasshopper Weather

We studied honey bees, wheat, preserving plums, and foreshadowing this day. 

A Pioneer Sampler has been such a wonderful go-along book for the Prairie Primer! 

We made chewing gum from wheat berries and then grew wheat grass. 

We didn't preserve plums today, but we did enjoy some fresh.

Day 4: Cattle in the Hay, Runaway, and The Christmas Horses

We made corn dodgers, and ate horehound candy and parched corn (instead of making it). 

Malachi and Eliana made the corn dodgers all by themselves. They cooked three, which were quickly eaten up and said they were done, haha, but they had more batter so I had them cook the rest. 

And that was Week 1 of Plum Creek. :) 

See what we are using and books and resources we use for more details!


  1. Your posts always draw me in to want to learn this with you! We are learning about lichen in our upcoming Exploring Nature with Children next week and found some during our pond study. Love the coneflowers, too! I've always been fond of the unique wildflowers. ....and Willow trees -- be still my heart. One of my favorite trees!

    1. I'm really loving your nature studies with that book! I think it would have tied in well with The Prairie Primer! I'm thankful that we get some nature study in with PP, but look forward to getting that book for next year.