The Long Winter - Week 1 {Prairie Primer}

We started The Long Winter, and our first week flew by. It was actually a nice, easy week just following the lessons in the Prairie Primer. We didn't add in extra science this week, but we did start Unit 4 in IEW's Student Writing Intensive A and worked on storytelling with The Boy Who Cried Wolf. 

Generals for this unit include a biography on the inventor of the telegraph - Samuel Morse, memorizing Psalm 37, and a weather study. I pulled out a few Five in a Row books to read and considered rowing one with Bo to tie into our weather study. 

See more about our curriculum and a list of books and resources we are using for links to what we are using.

Day 1

Ma makes ginger water with apple cider vinegar for Pa and Laura to drink while stacking hay in the hot sun, so we made ginger water and looked up the medicinal uses of ginger. 

Anciently esteemed as a spice and recognized for its digestive benefits, ginger has been used in gingerbread up to 4,000 years ago in Greece, in Egypt to ward off epidemics, in Indian tea for upset stomachs, in Chinese tonics to strengthen the heart and relieve head congestion, and more, according to my reference guide. I use ginger very much like Ma - in my Good Girl Moonshine with apple cider vinegar, which is another powerful digestive aid. I used 1 drop of Ginger vitality oil from Young Living for its purity and benefits, but you could use fresh or dried ground ginger just as well. 

We started an exercise program... sort of. :)  We started Family Time Fitness, and plan to give ourselves a star for each day we do the program. We had a good first day at least. 

Pa shows Laura how the muskrats built their houses extra thick and how it meant a cold winter was coming, so we studied muskrats using the Handbook of Nature Study, The Burgess Animal Book, and we also read Frozen Wild: How Animals Survive in the Coldest Places on Earth. 

We went for an afternoon walk around the pond to see if we could find any muskrat homes.

I'm not sure what that mound is, but it had air holes or small tunnels of sorts. 

Malachi was fascinated with this small waterfall. 

We didn't see any muskrat homes, but we met a fisherman who said the pond is full of muskrat and beaver and they are out in the early morning before the sun rises. 

Day 2 

Pa is worried about the coming winter, and they have their first blizzard. 

We looked up equinoctial and learned the cause of the seasons on earth - the path of the sun around the earth

Our study of weather then began today with the water cycle. 

We read about the water cycle and forms of precipitation, and talked about how our family conserves water. I will do a little more on this next week with Bo, including an experiment and a little song to reinforce the concept.

Day 3

We went back to the pond this morning about 30 minutes before sunrise. It was so pretty. 

This time, we saw several muskrats! Eliana also saw a beaver. Though they look very similar in the water, their tails moving through the water gave them away. 

Pa has a feeling it is going to be a hard winter, but an Indian came to warn the settlers that they will have blizzards for 7 moons (months). Pa quickly moves the family from their claim shanty to the store Pa built in town. 

In our reading today, we learned what an Indian summer is. The next morning, both Eliana and Bo were excited to see frost on the ground and they both came to me on their own to tell me we were having an Indian summer!  

We read about the Battle of Wounded Knee Creek and learned what tribes lived near where Laura's family lived. 

We talked about the difference between hay (stem, leaves, and grain seeds) and straw (just the stem with the grain removed and what we use for bedding for our chickens). 

Day 4

Another blizzard hits while school is in session and they all have to find their way home in the blinding snowstorm. It was so cold that once home, Laura thought that being safe at home, sheltered from the winds and cold, "must be a little bit like Heaven, where the weary are at rest." She could not imagine that Heaven was better than being where she was, slowly growing warm and comfortable, sipping the hot, sweet, ginger tea, seeing Ma, and Grace, and Pa and Carrie, and Mary all enjoying their own cups of it and hearing the storm that could not touch them here." To think that the snow storm affected them that much!

There were no real activities scheduled today, so I almost made Almanzo's pancakes. If they are not scheduled later in the book, we will have to make them. Instead, we started working on memorizing Psalm 37. 

We didn't get around to gathering information on emergency preparedness and survival kits, so we'll have to get started on that next week. 

It was nice to have an easy week. All our school got done, and the kids played and soaked up the sunshine... before winter comes!

Until next time...


  1. I absolutely love your posts. There's so much unique beauty in each one :) This makes me want to finish reading these books myself. I never read them as a kid. We have only gotten through 3 as a family. Reading Little House books reminds me of our Slow study :) Their life is busy but simple and slow enough to watch frost gather on windows. I love the descriptions in each science. I admire that quality that finds wonder in the smallest of things.

  2. I haven't posted a comment in forever... but I want you to know I still read and enjoy all of your happenings. I also get great inspiration for our little school.
    Carry on dear soul!

  3. Hi,
    I LOVE reading your blog! Your posts have inspired me to homeschool- and follow the BFIAR/FIAR pathway-someday.

    I commented to say that A Pair of Red Clogs is on my Girl Scout required reading list! When I saw it there, I recognized it immediateky and thought, "Just like on Michelle's blog!" You know what I'd love to put inside the book? A postcard from Malachi and Eliana!
    Or is that too much to ask?
    Anyhow...Keep blogging!

    Your superfan,
    PS. I commented here because I couldn't do so on the actual Red Clogs post

    1. Hello Serena, thank you for stopping by to let me know you are reading. :) Would you mind emailing me about this to I'll reply to you there. Thank you!

  4. What’s the difference between Five in a row & the prairie primer? I know prairie primer is based on the Little House on the Prairie but besides that..

  5. Besides that and the fact that they are both literature based unit study guides, I am not sure how they differ. FIAR uses chapter books in their Above and Beyond guide, but we didn't make it that far (we only did the picture books in Volumes 1-4).

    However, I can say that Where the Brook and the River Meets (the high school guide by publisher of PP) is 1. more conducive to a Charlotte Mason education which is the direction we have moved into and that 2. FIAR forces the science of relations too much and I am having to undo years of "making connections" for my children so they can make them on their own. ~Michelle (who can't sign into her own blog, so feel free to email me at my blog name at gmail to talk more!)