Monday, March 19, 2018

Nine Activities Inspired by On the Banks of Plum Creek

On the Banks of Plum Creek and all the books in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House collection are a fantastic way to teach your children about the pioneer era. I've been slowly reading them all aloud to my 7 year old. We read Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie last year. This year we did On the Banks of Plum Creek and I think it's probably my favorite book in the collection. I spent some time scouring my brain and the internet for fun and educational activities to go along with book while we read it. 

In this post I'll share all the On the Banks of Plum Creek themed activities we did and instructions or links so you can do them too.

Paint a Prairie Mural:

Laura very vividly describes the prairie around her family's homestead in the first several chapters. Get a large piece of cardboard and some paint and paint a mural based on her description.

Learn About Prairie Wildflowers:

Laura spends almost an entire chapter describing the wildflowers that grow along Plum Creek. Spend some time researching and looking at pictures of prairie wildflowers. The Dave's Garden site has a page dedicated to identifying the flowers described in On the Banks of Plum Creek. You can check it out here.

Make a Button String:

In the book, Ma lets Laura and Mary make a button string for Carrie for Christmas. Making your own button string is pretty simple. You need some string, a sewing needle, and an assortment of buttons.

Just thread the needle and use it to thread a button onto the sring and knot it onto the end. Then continue adding buttons by threading the needle through a button hole and then down the hole directly across from it. Add buttons until you have your desired length and tie off the other end. You can then tie the ends together to make a necklace or bracelet. 

Make a button string- On the Banks of Plum Creek

Take a Virtual Tour of Plum Creek:

What better way is there to familiarize yourself with Laura's prairie landscape than to actually see it!?! Check out this short YouTube video: Walk The Banks Of Plum Creek. It's a walk around the actual site of the Ingalls family homestead on Plum Creek.

You can also see historical photos of Walnut Grove, the town near the family's homestead where Laura and Mary attened school, here.

Make Vanity Cakes:

In the book, Ma makes vanity cakes for Laura and Mary and their friends during their country party. Try making your own vanity cakes, my kids loved them! We used a slightly modernized version of the recipe and used cooking oil instead of lard for frying them in. Here's the recipe:


-2 eggs
-1 cup of flour
-A pinch of salt
-2 cups of your choice of cooking oil (I prefer avacado for it's high smoke point)

Pour an inch or two of cooking oil into a small frying pan and heat to frying temperature (about 350 degrees).

In a bowl, beat the eggs and the salt for 1 minute. Wisk in the flour a few tablespoons at a time until your batter is too thick to beat but too soft to roll out. 

Divide the dough into eight balls. Roll each ball in flour and flatten genetly with your palm.

Fry them a few cakes at a time, flipping halfway.

Your vanity cakes are done when they are poofy and golden brown.

Roll them in sugar and cinnamon as you remove them from the oil. Or for a healthier take on this treat, we discovered they taste fantastic topped with strawberries. 

Make Vanity Cakes like in On the Banks of Plum Creek

Research The Locust Plauges of Minnesota:

Laura spends several chapters focused on the plauge of grasshoppers that appeared almost out of nowhere that destroyed their family's crops and ate every living thing on the prairie, and then later left as suddenly as they came. As crazy as it may seem, the grasshopper plauges actually happened. In the late 1800's swarms of millions of Rocky Mountain grasshoppers decimated the farms and prairies of the midwest every 10 or so years. 

Spend some time researching the Minnesota locust plauges and the Rocky Mountain Grasshopper.  You could even use it as an opportunity for a quick lesson on grasshopper lifecycles. 

Here are a few resources to get you started:

Make A Patchwork Quilt:

During the long blizzard Laura and Mary worked on their quilts. Find some fabric and cut out some 2.5x2.5 inch squares and try sewing your own doll quilt. The Polka Dot Chair has some good instructions here.

Play Cat's Cradle:

Cat's Cradle is an old game played with a string and two pairs of hands. It's one of the games Laura and Mary play to keep busy during the long blizzard described in the book. You can watch a great tutorial on YouTube from MomsMinvan here.

Writing Prompts:

My daughter has a writing journal that she does various writing assignments in. While we read On the Banks of Plum Creek I came up with several writing prompts to go along with our reading. 

Writing promts:

-Imagine your family is traveling by covered wagon to a new home. What would pack for the journey?

-Imagine what it would be like living in a dugout. Do you think you would like it?

-Imagine you lived in the pioneer era. What do you think you'd like best about living in that time period? What would like least?

-In what ways is Laura's life similar to yours? How is it different? 

-What was your favorite part of the book? Why?

If you enjoyed this post, check out:

8 Activities Inspired By Farmer Boy

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  1. Now this is a book I would love to read to the grandkids and do some of the crafts. Right up our alley of things we enjoy doing.

    1. It was such a fun book to come up with activities for!

  2. These are great ideas to extend the learning experience! Thanks for sharing!

  3. What a fun idea! I loved the Little House on the Prairie series of books when I was a little girl. This a great way to keep the learning and fun going! Love it!

    1. Thanks! I loved the Little House books while growing up too. It's been fun getting to enjoy them again with my daughter.

  4. My oldest daughter loves the Little House books! I am going to share these with her when she gets home from school today. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Thanks for reading! Glad I could provide some inspiration.

  5. Thanks for the ideas! I really want to read the little house books with my daughters. Maybe these activities will help!

    1. Thanks for reading! Glad I could provide some inspiration!

  6. I LOVE Little House on the Prairie! These are wonderful ideas, thank you for sharing!

  7. These are great ideas for bringing a book to life. Good job! I'm sure the kids loved it.

    1. Thanks! My daughter definitely enjoyed :-)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Good stuff. Book-based activities are my favorite.

    1. Thanks for reading! Book based activities are definitely a fun way to expand the learning experience :-)


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