Learning with Laura - Prairie Primer - Week 33-35

Thursday, April 28, 2016

This week we wrapped our final chapters of Little House on the Prairie and also our 4th grade year. Prairie Primer has been such a sweet end of the year. I wish I had thought to do it sooner in the year to do maybe just one more book. We have really enjoyed snuggling on the couch and getting to know the Ingalls and the part of the country that we live in now that was quite different than the one we know now.

As I said in Aedan's final post this year was a lot of trial and error. I'm thankful I had the freedom to enjoy a few learning tangents this year, but I am looking forward to next year's steady plans too. Silas is becoming a very wise little man. It's fun to see him growing into his personality and watch him as he grows in so many ways. I can't wait to enjoy long and warm afternoons with these two.

There was just so much goodness wrapped into Prairie that it was hard to fit it all in. I let Silas choose a few things each week rather than over-burdening us with activities. I think Prairie Primer makes a wonderful and full program. I wish I had found it sooner. This late in the year I chose to take a more relaxed approach to it.

One of the things Silas wanted to do was make these little heart cakes. One of the stories in the book takes place on Christmas. The children are awaiting a visit from Santa, but Santa happens to be Mr. Edwards coming from Independence. The river was too difficult to cross, so Ma feared that there would be no presents in the stockings for the girls. Laura heard her mom whisper "There's still the white sugar." Thinking that Mr. Edwards wouldn't come Ma made these little heart cakes and wrapped them in tissue paper.

The boys just started flag football. They each have a practice on a different night, so one boy stays home with me. When I asked Silas what he wanted to do it was to make the little heart cakes from the book. We have the Little House Cookbook, and the recipe was in there! We subbed butter for shortening.

It was neat making the recipe together. I love that this is what he chose to do when we had some time together just the two of us. 

These were quite delish! They are sort of a cross between a biscuit and a scone. It was neat experiencing something that was so special to Laura so long ago.

Mr. Edwards did in fact make it across the river. He didn't want to let the girls down. He brought sweet potatoes which were a special treat for their Christmas dinner. They had turkey, but I ended up making a roast chicken and sweet potatoes instead. We pretended it was a prairie hen. We also got to go to a really neat farmstead in town where there were many things that were relevant to the book. I left my phone in the car that day. It was nice to not think about pictures.

Ok, so I adore Center for Lit products. I got the Ready Readers picture book guide just to get a feel for how they apply the Socratic questions in Teaching the Classics. I love that they schedule picture books all the way up through even the older grades to teach different literary devices. These were all absolutely wonderful books! I need to write a whole post on Center for Lit products. Soon and very soon.

Of all of the books this was my very favorite. I could write a whole post on this book alone. Absolutely beautiful and deep. Silas thought the book was kind of sad until I explained why it was so beautiful. Maybe someday he'll understand.

Silas has been reading 13 Clocks. He absolutely loved this book. It was one of the books on the Reading Roadmaps 4th grade list.

We completed our final visit for SCM Visits to Europe. We finished our final book Children of the Northlights. This one is going in my D'Aulaire collection to never be sold. We spent some time in Finland, and this book captured that part of the world so well. Silas got every single country correct on his final map test! I highly recommend this program!

Next year we will be using HOD Creation to Christ. Aedan adored the science from that guide. Silas has covered animals multiple times and asked if he could learn astronomy this year instead. He said he would like to still read some of the CtC science books, so he read through this one over the past few weeks. Instead we will use the science from HOD Resurrection to Reformation next year.

We wrapped up the rest of our science experiments. We made it through the whole thing! That was no easy task. REAL Science Chemistry had a ton of experiments! I can't bear to skip them for my hands on kid. A few weeks ago we did an acids and bases experiment with cabbage indicator. We had leftover cabbage water for yet another stinky experiment. P-U!

We dipped coffee filters into cabbage indicator to make PH strips.

Next we tested water, baking soda water and vinegar to see which was most acidic. The paper turned pink for acid and blue for alkaline.

Silas painted with the various mixtures.

We made a PH scale.

Next we did an activity where we built teeth. First we took chalk (calcium carbonate) and ground it into a fine powder.

Silas had fun smashing it to bits!

Next we poured vinegar into the jar to dissolve the calcium carbonate.

It was fun seeing something bubble that wasn't vinegar and baking soda.

After a while the mixture separated.

Silas thought the bubbles were weird.

We left the calcium carbonate mixture over night. We also mixed baking soda and water.

Mixing these two liquids together formed a solid. I didn't get a picture, but we poured off the liquid and saw our solid. Awesome!

The last few experiments we played with fire. Always a hit with boys! Sooo.....Our next experiment was to light a dollar on fire without actually burning it. Umm...

We were supposed to soak the dollar in 90% alcohol, water and salt, buuuuuttttt we only had 70%. Sounds like a good sub right?

Silas took the dollar out and let the liquid drip off. You know that inner voice that says, "This isn't a bright idea." I had a bad feeling about that substitution.

 Next we lit our dollar on fire that wasn't supposed to burn, and well, it burned anyway. Ha! Can't win em' all right?

 Sorry George.

We also learned how oxygen and fire are a team.

After lighting the candles we put a small, medium and large jar on top of the candles.

We had to get them on the same time to see which candle would burn the longest.

Of course it was the large jar with the most oxygen present.

Here is where we say goodbye to the memories of last year. I'm so thankful for this sweet boy. He sure lights up our days. I'm sure I will check in with you all between now and next year. For now I am thankful you have come to walk alongside us on our journey. Best of days to you!


  1. What sweet memories are being made! I love the heart cakes. Sounds like a very productive year you and your boys had! I am so curious about the Visits To...series. Would they be appropriate for an 8th grader?

    1. It would be appropriate for all your kids! It is set up for k-12. There are books for littles and for the family. I absolutely love it. I wish I had done one with my oldest too. Even if you just did the maps without the books it would be beneficial.

  2. Adorable little cakes. :) We're wrapping up Prairie and we didn't do anything special for week 4 so I was hoping to at least go on one of the suggested field trips, but so far, I'm enjoying doing nothing at all. :) So much that I can't bring myself to start blogging. I'm daydreaming about cleaning and decluttering and taking a summer break!

    That's a cool pH chart. :) I still want to make our own pH test strips.

  3. Toward the end we didn't do as much either. I felt like there was so much learning happening anyway. It was plenty :) I'm daydreaming about cleaning and decluttering too (and not doing!) That's my major goal this summer - to make this a welcoming and stress free home. At the pace I'm going though I'm not sure! I am chipping very slowly away at lots of jobs that get put on the back burner during school. It is so nice to have a break!

  4. I have never heard of Center for Lit but I am definitely looking into it and would love to see your review of it. I am going to venture into Prairie Primer with my rising 3rd grader and loved all that you have shared!


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