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8 Activities Inspired By Farmer Boy

I have slowly been reading the books from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House Collection to my daughter over the last couple years. Farmer Boy was a new one for me. For some reason I skipped this one as child, maybe for the same reason my daughter was hesitant to read it, it's about a boy, not our beloved Laura. After reading it though I think it's both mine and my daughter's new favorite in the collection. I just loved reading about farm life and Almanzo and his family are just as lovable of characters as Laura and her family.

In this post I will share some fun hands on learning activities we did while reading the book and instructions or links so you can try them too.

Plant Potatoes From Eyes (or plant a whole vegetable garden):

Planting potatoes from eyes like Almanzos family, is super simple. You just grab a potato, one that's been sitting in your pantry awhile and has some growth started is preferable, but not necessary. Cut the potato into 1 inch chunks, with a couple eyes per chunk. 

Let the potato chunks air dry for about a day. This helps prevent them from rotting before they sprout.

Find a sunny location and prep the soil. It should be loose and well worked. 

Press a potato chunk, eye up, about an inch into the soil. 

Now just water daily and with any luck you should have some potatoes growing soon!

Make Stove Top Popcorn:

In the book, Almanzo's family often enjoys poocorn as an after dinner snack. In the book, they pop it over the fire in their fire place. We didn't try that method but popping pop corn on the stove is simple and has the same fun popping effect. 

Pour a small amount of cooking oil into a medium sized pot and add a couple kernels of popcorn. Heat the oil over med/high heat until the popcorn kernels pop. Then add more kernels, enough to just cover the bottom of the pot. Stick on the lid and gently move the pot back and forth over the burner (this keeps the kernels moving and helps keep them from burning). Soon you will hear the kernels start to pop. Keep moving the pot back and forth over the burner until the popping slows down. 

And that's it. Enjoy your popcorn!

Make Old Fashioned Doughnuts:

In the book, one of Almanzo's favorite foods is his mom's doughnuts so we decided to try making our own old fashioned doughnuts. 


1/3 cup of sugar

-2 teaspoons of baking powder

-3/4 teaspoon salt

-1/8 teaspoon cinnamon 

-1 egg

-1/8 cup mealted butter

-1/2 cup milk

-2 cups flour

- oil for cooking

- additional sugar and cinnamon for topping


First mix the sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.

Add milk, egg, and melted butter. Beat well.

Add 1 cup of flour and mix well. Slowly add remaining flour until a sticky but workable dough forms.

Cover and chill for an hour.

After an hour, begin heating about an inch of cooking oil in a skillet. Form the dough into small balls or small doughnut shapes.

Fry the doughnuts a few at a time, flipping over several times while cooking. The doughnuts are done when they are golden brown. 

Roll in sugar and cinnamon and let cool.

Take a Virtual Tour of The Wilder Family Farm:

The Wilder family's farm house still stands today and has been fully restored. It still stands on the original site of the family homestead. The barns have been reconstructed according to historical descriptions. You can take a virtual tour with this video The Wilder Farm.

Make Ice Cream:

One of my favorite chapters in Farmer Boy is the one where his parents are away and leave the kids in charge of the farm. Having ice cream for dinner reminds me of something my own siblings and I would have done if our parents were away. Try making your own homemade ice cream! Your Homebased Mom has a great recipe and kid friendly instructions here.

Make a Grass Whistle:

This is something I did often as a kid too. It's simple but takes a little practice. 

First you need to pick a good blade of grass. It shouldn't be too thick but not too thin either, with no tears or holes. 

Place the blade of grass between your two thumbs. Make sure it's pulled taunt. 

Put your lips to your thumbs, purse your lips, and blow. 

With the right blade of grass and a little practice, you should be able to produce a very loud and somewhat annoying whistle.

If you need more help, check out this video from Howcast: How to Whistle With a Blade of Grass?

Make Candles:

In Farmer Boy, Almanzo has to help his mom with the candle making. Try making your own hand dipped candles. Jamie Martin at Simple Homeschool has some really great instructions for simple candle making with kids. You can check it out here.

Go Fishing:

In the book Almanzo describes an enjoyable day he spends fishing with his father at a nearby creek. Grab your your fishing gear and take your kids fishing! It's fun and such an awesome life skill to give your children, not to mention, a great opportunity for spending quality time as a family.

If you enjoyed this post, check out:

9 Activities Inspired By On the Banks of Plum Creek

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  1. We enjoyed reading Farmer Boy too. My son was amazed at all the work the family had to do. Planting potatoes is a great idea and not to hard. We will try that out. Thanks for your post.

    1. My daughter was pretty blown away by how much work kids were expected to do back then too. Potatoes are really easy to grow, enjoy!

  2. Love. love, love reading books and having activities that go along with them! My daughter was just asking about planting potatoes!

    1. We love doing activities along with our reading! I think it helps the reading stick with you :-)

  3. I remember making grass whistle when I was a kid lol. I know mine love to get dirty and make stuff in the kitchen so a few of these activities will be great for them!

  4. We LOVE the Little House series! We tried apples'n'onions because of Farmer Boy and it's a huge favorite around here, now! Pinned this one and heading on over to your On the Banks of Plum Creek post now! Thank you!

    1. We didn't try apples n onions because my daughter thinks it sounds gross lol but I'm really curious to try them now myself :-)
      Thanks for checking out my posts!

  5. Wish I had this long time ago. My kids are older now. Great activities to do while ready Farmer boy. My boys loved that book. :)

    1. It's a great book, glad your boys got to enjoy it!

  6. We just started plabting in the garden and my daughter is obsessed!

  7. I love these ideas! I've never read the Farmers Boy or any of the other books in the Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House Collection, but this makes me very excited to add them to my homeschool library. I know my son would love incorporating all these activities while reading this book. Thank you for sharing such great ideas!

    1. Thanks for checking out my post :-)
      They're really great books!

  8. Ive never read this book but I feel like it’s sometning to explore with my boys.

    1. It's a really good book, we enjoyed it :-)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. I still make a grass whistle to this day!! My daughter is learning but you are right it takes some practice. We have this book in our collection and it is the works to read.


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