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Let’s Get Planning: Farmer Boy Unit Study

Linking up with Kelly.

Buddy is so interested in Farmer Boy.  My children truly love the Ingalls family and remind me constantly that they are cousins.  So, I decided to create a unit study for him.

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Farmer Boy inspired science- I have the following science activities planned to correlate with the book, we will complete them when we reach that section of the book.

  1. Ice experiment- Over at Raising the Barrs there is an interesting activity to teach children about storing ice, reminiscent of Almanzo cutting ice and storing it in the ice house for summer. 
  2. Milk and popcorn experiment- How much popcorn can you fit in a full glass of milk?  Find out the way Almanzo did by following this activity by Homeschool in the Hills
  3. Soap Making-  I am very afraid of lye, but I want to try our hand at making soap like the Wilders’ did.  Country Farm Lifestyles has so many soap recipes.  I plan on us starting with the Honey soap recipe and if I can muster my resolve in the spring, try the beginner soap with lye.  This is an exercise in stretching myself, so we will both be learning. 
  4. Molasses Candy Pull- A little food science is fitting for studying Almanzo, a boy with an appetite the size of Texas.   In the dead of winter, when we are stuck inside with multiple feet of snow all around, I plan on following this activity from All Things Beautiful.
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 Sugar Snow, My First Little House Books   -     By: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Reading and Listening- A large part of this unit is reading.  I will be reading aloud Farmer Boy and Farmer Boy Heads West. From the library, we are going to use the My First Little House Books that tell the Little House stories but break them down for newer readers. These Buddy will read himself.  My plan is at least two books per a week.
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 The Little House Cookbook   -     By: Barbara M. Walker 
Almanzo loved to eat, a man after Buddy’s own stomach heart.  Buddy also really enjoys cooking and wants to learn more recipes.  We are going to cook a selection of recipes from the Little House Cookbook together, including planning a Little House feast from which even Almanzo would walk away full.  In addition, I found the recipes for Vinegar Pie; and Apples and Onions–can’t wait to try them. (If I can figure out how to make a gluten and milk free version as well)
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Wilder Biographies- In studying about these beloved ancestors, I want Buddy to learn more about them than just what is in the books.  So, I will be reading the following books aloud Childhood of Famous Americans: Laura Ingalls WilderThe Story of the Wilders: All About Almanzo and His Family, and Laura Ingalls Wilder CountryThere is also a lovely documentary, Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura.  It is a little pricey on DVD, but can be rented via Amazon Instant Video for only $1.99. (You can purchase the streamed movie for only $2 more!)
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Life on the Prairie- So you want to live on the prairie?  Well, here are some books to show you what life there is really like.  The first, The Prairie Traveler, is actually a period book that has been reprinted.  It was originally written as a guide for those heading west to homestead. The e-version is available at the Gutenberg Project for free.  Diary of an Early American Boy is partially based on the diary of Noah Blake. It provides another view of the world Almanzo experienced.  Lastly, Pioneer Girl: Growing up on the Prairie is a true story of one of Laura’s contemporaries that provides a deeper glimpse into everyday chores and activities.
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The Critters of Windhaven Farm - Photo Book of a Family Homestead
Farm Animals- What Farmer Boy unit would be complete without learning more about animals on the farm.  While Buddy has been saving his money to buy a team of oxen, I suggested we start a little smaller and work our way up.  I signed him up for The Bunny Bunch, a 4-H group that teaches children how to care for rabbits.  Within the next couple of months, he will get a rabbit of his own, that we will care for and get to show in the county fair–very Almanzo indeed!  We have also been helping to care for friends’ chickens and learning more about what them online.  Buddy wants an entire flock–we may be getting a few in the spring, God willing.
From Currclick*, I downloaded the following free items to enhance our animal study, since I cannot buy every farm animal to experience them first hand.  OHC Farming unit, Down on the Farm Notebooking Pages, and The Critters of Wind Haven Farm  To help with the notebooking  pages, I am setting up a visiting to a new(er) farm in our town that is currently raising chickens, pigs, and cows all in pastures, the old fashioned way. Noah the Farmer always offers for people to visit, so we are taking him up on the offer.
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Almanzo Wilder Farm in Malone, NY Boyhood home of Almanzo Wilder from the book Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder of Little House on the Prairie
Field Trips- In addition to our trip to the farm, I have a few hands on experiences so that Buddy can live like Almanzo, not just read about him.  The first is going on as I type, Buddy is doing a Hands on History Camp put on by our local historical society.  They are learning and living the early 19th century lifestyles all week.  He is having a blast!  He told me that doing laundry is so much fun, all he wants for his birthday is a washboard, metal wash tub, and a bar of soap and he will do all the laundry there is to wash….hmmm.
We have always talked about taking the kids maple sugaring, but it has yet to happen.  SO, I am including it in our lesson plans for this year.  Once we learn the process of making the syrup, I hope we have enough clean snow to make the famed maple snow candy from the sugaring dance.  
Lastly, I am taking the kids on a road trip to see the actual Wilder farm.  It is a long drive and will definitely be an overnight trip, but it will be worth it.  I’m saving my pennies and hoping we can make it happen this spring. 


This unit is read aloud heavy, as is all our curriculum this year (I told Hubby he needs to buy me some good reading glasses and a large reusable water bottle if I am to make it through 🙂 However, i will not be reading every book, every day.  I am going to divide the books up into daily chunks so that we can complete them within a year.  So on a given day, we may read 15 pages of Farmer Boy, 10 pages of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s biography, and 10 pages of The Prairie Traveler.  This way it is more manageable and will keep us on track. I will be posting additional resources on my Pinterest board, be sure to check it out!

*These are affiliate links, though the resources are free, if you purchase any other curriculum, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price in the form of a credit to provide new curriculum for my homeschool.  Thank you!
 

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