By the Shores of Sliver Lake {Prairie Primer}

By the Shores of Silver Lake begins in Plum Creek just shortly after the family has recovered from scarlet fever which causes Mary to go blind. Pa soon takes a job as a bookkeeper for the railroad, and they move to the shores of Silver Lake where they experience life living in a shanty near the railroad camp.

This post will be the whole Shores unit, which is 4 weeks of learning, in one post.

To summarize, we covered:
  • causes of disease
  • bacteria and viruses
  • meningitis, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, rubella and how to treat them naturally
  • dangers of immunizations
  • eyes and eyesight (and nutrition of the eyes - we made a carrot smoothie from Nutrition 101)
  • immune system, how to support it naturally, and the role of a fever
  • steam trains, history of railroads
  • Louis Braille (we also watched The Story of Helen Keller)
  • elements of a story briefly (we are covering them more in depth now in IEW's SWI A Unit 4)
  • U.S. States, capitals, and abbreviations 
  • and many other topics from the manual

I read that Scarlet Fever Probably Didn’t Blind Mary Ingalls and a few other articles like, What Really Caused Mary Ingalls to Go Blind? and Mistaken Infection 'On The Prairie'?, and we spent some time studying diseases.

One fun activity this unit was being each other eyes. The kids blindfolded each other and became each other's eyes, just like Laura was Mary's eyes. I love how Laura's experience being Mary's eyes helped her become an accomplished descriptive writer.

We visited the eye doctor. The kids each had their eyes examined and the doctor took the time to go over eye anatomy with the kids.

I also had my eyes examined as I have been having some trouble seeing things up close, including the computer screen, and it turns out I needed reading glasses.

Malachi watched An Introduction to Infectious Diseases on Amazon.

We did the free 1 week trial for The Great Courses and canceled before the week was over. We watched Episode 2: Bacteria: Heroes and Villains; Episode 14: Respiratory and Brain Infections (which covers meningitis); and Episode 19: Malaria and Tuberculosis: Global Killers. These have a lot of great information, even though we don't agree with their stance on vaccination.

Vaccination caused deaths and injuries came through my email during this time and I discovered the role vaccines are playing in the explosion of chronic diseases today in Dr. Judy Mikovits presentation, PLAGUE: What's Really Destroying Our Immune Systems & Causing Cancer, Alzheimer's and More (key lessons learned from 4 decades of retroviral research & immune therapy) during the live Truth About Cancer symposium. These were all just so timely, because we are all so guilt tripped into thinking immunizations are an obligation (a suggested resource in the manual is a video titled "Immunizations: A Gift, An Obligation" and I just don't agree with them being a gift or obligation - they are dangerous). I normally don't voice my strong opinions on my blog, so I will stop there, but I am very much full of them. :)  

Malachi did the Module in General Science on the Classification of Life as it covered bacteria and Eliana did the Chapter on senses in Apologia Human Anatomy, which was great because it covered the eye and tied into PP science. 

We listened to The Story of Braille (here's a good description of the documentary), and watched Young Heroes: Louis Braille in lieu of reading the Louis Braille biography because our library did not have it. But I wished I would have ordered the book.

Generals for this unit included doing bacteria collection experiments. First we grew oral bacteria on an agar plate.

We chose 2 or 3 large colonies and mixed them with sterilized water. 

Then Malachi spread the bacteria evenly on a plate. 

We punched paper with a hole punch, sterilized the discs in the oven (Kirby-Bauer testing), then added an antibacterial agent to each disc, leaving a control in the middle. (We used Thieves spray, Thieves Hand Purifier, Thieves essential oil, and EZ Bio hand sanitizer (that came with the agar plates and experiment book). 

Our homemade incubator was a heating pad. 

The results:

The area around the disc where no visible bacteria has grown is called the Zone of Inhibition. The Thieves essential oil had the greatest zone of inhibition, as visible on the agar plate. So cool! I'd like to do a plate on oral bacteria and compare various Vitality oils (oils that can be used internally) to see which ones are more effective against oral bacteria, but for now, I use Thieves on my toothbrush and rinse with it.

Another General this unit was to memorize Romans 8:31-39 and learn the states. I started out by having the kids write all the states they know. Pictured: Bo's on top, then Eliana's and then Malachi's. 

We sang the U.S Geography Songs and mapped them on the map as we sang. Bo learned many of  them right along with with us. 

We also used the Capitals game to learn the capitals. 

We were supposed to learn the states/capitals and the sequence that they entered the union, but we focused on just learning the states and capitals. 

We also studied our state and local town history during this unit. Phew! We did not make a notebook - we just read books from our library, quizzed each other on facts, and went on a few local field trips throughout the unit.

We studied steam engines this week. This inspired me to row Mike Mulligan and His Steam shovel with Bo. We visited our historic train depot, saw a steam engine, and saw an old turn around.

One of our assignments in Week 4 was to visit some of the oldest standing buildings in our town. We visited the Sheridan Inn, home of Buffalo Bill. 

The kids found engraved and raised letters and tried to read them with their fingers as if blind. 

We went on a field trip to Pompey's Pillar and saw William Clarks signature from the Lewis and Clark Expedition. 

While at Pompey's Pillar, we saw Cottonwood trees. This was an assignment from Week 4, day 2 - to identify and find one in our area. 

This was such a busy month with soccer that I did not even take a picture of our book basket! I had a stack of books from the library on Wyoming state and local history, and others I'm sure. 

This is, of course, in addition to the curriculum and regular resources we use with Prairie Primer. With every unit, we read the book, do the discussion questions (sometimes I have the kids narrate instead), and do several of the activities. Since we are doing IEW Intensive A, we do not do the writing activities, but we do do them orally. 
To wrap up our unit, we made a dried apple pie... using dried apples that we rehydrated. 

I used sprouted whole wheat flour. I put myself on a strict no white sugar/white flour kick after going off plan (THM) for a month. Not to lose weight, but because I listened to a podcast by the Forbidden Doctor on how bad sugar is for us, and I was deeply convicted to go off it again. I am mostly "on plan," but eating lots of crossovers (like Kerry Gold butter or avocado on my sprouted toast and sweet potatoes) and enjoying it. :)  

Anyways, I didn't think the pie was very good with 100% whole wheat crust, but the kids said they liked it.

After we finished the book, we took a 3 week fall break which included a 10 day trip to Big Fork, MT for the Feast of Tabernacles.

We are currently on The Long Winter.

Until next time...


  1. Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into your posts. I am really inspired by your blog! Where did you find the Geography songs to learn the states?

    1. I'm so happy to hear ~ thank you for taking the time to let me know. :)

      You can buy the States and Capitals Songs MP3 album from Amazon ( or on iTunes. :)

  2. WOW! Just wow! What amazing month of learning! Thank you for sharing all the extra links. I'm going to take some time to read through them all. I love your science experiment with Thieves. Your kids have information that I didn't even have going into motherhood at their young ages.

  3. Really enjoyed reading about all that you and your family are doing. Miss talking to you.

  4. there really is some delightful learning going on. I LOVE seeing what you do with the books. I will be implementing so much of it. Thank you for sharing!! I am looking forward to the next update.