Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Read Along: Week 18 - The House on the Prairie

A big thanks to SarahJayne for writing this weeks read along! 

This week’s chapter contains yet another frightening experience for the Ingalls family. The pioneer life is filled with dangers, and so far we have seen how Pa and Ma try to keep things light to shield the girls from their fears. Here we see what really frightens Pa, seeing his dear wife injured. It must have been terrifying to be so far from help with only home remedies to treat any sicknesses or injuries.

  • For those sharing this little house adventure with their children, this may be a good time to discuss first aid and how to tell the difference between a break and a sprain. Here is a website with simple directions. It may be interesting to talk about the kinds of medicines and remedies available to the pioneers and how medicines have changed since that time. You can find some info on that here, here, and here.

  • Our craft this week is also more geared towards the young’uns; however I have to admit I had a lot of fun with it too. We will be making a homemade guitar or fiddle.
-4 to 6 rubber bands of the same length, the thinner ones will give a higher pitched sound
-a small box that your rubber bands can stretch around
-two pencils
-an exacto knife (parental use here, obviously)
-anything you might want to decorate your instrument with
To make a bow for your fiddle
-a wire coat hanger
-another rubber band
-wire cutters & pliers
1 cut a hole in the box with the exacto knife to create a soundbox
2 stretch 4 or 6 rubber bands across the hole
3 slide the pencils under the rubber bands to keep them from touching the box
4 have fun plucking the strings as a guitar
If you want to play this as a fiddle, you’ll need a bow
1 using the wire cutters, cut the wire hanger as shown:
making the bow oct09
2 using the pliers, bend the ends around to make a handle and holders for a rubber band:
making the bow2 oct09
3 add the rubber band and play! Note: mine didn’t make much sound just sliding it across the strings; I found that it worked better when striking them diagonally and bouncing the bow.
Finished project:
box fiddle oct09

  • To hear some fabulous fiddle music head on over to the
Henry Reed Collection which was put together by folklorist, Alan Jabbour in the 1960’s in an effort to document and preserve the folk music of the Virginian Appalachians. Many, if not all, of the 184 recorded songs would have been known and played by Pa around a campfire (including Old Dan Tucker). So light some candles, turn off the lights and listen to the sounds Laura & Mary heard. Maybe the kids would like to play along on their hand-made instruments too.

  • Discussion topic:
When the area of the big woods became too settled, Pa wanted to pick everything up and leave, yet it seems that the family’s interaction with their neighbors like Mr. Edwards are the most memorable, joyful times described in the books. I find this seeming contradiction interesting; What do you think?

By SarahJayne

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