October 7, 2016

Laura Ingalls Wilder 150th Birthday Celebration Part 2

Laura Ingalls Wilder's 150th birthday is February 7, 2017. I shared some suggestions to get you started planning a Wilder celebration in part 1 of this series. Today we'll look at what your Laura Ingalls Wilder celebration will look like.

You've already considered when and where the LIW party will be. You've also determined who you might invite. The party-goers will greatly determine what you do during the party. A ladies' night out party will look very different than a children's party.

Your celebration may be mostly in the form of a presentation, from you or someone who puts on Laura Ingalls Wilder programs (linked to my programs).

Laura the Woman

Though party-goers may know the Little House books better than Laura Ingalls Wilder the person, consider how or if you will celebrate the woman of Laura beyond the books. Consider some of these questions and brainstorm more.
  • What was Laura passionate about as an adult? 
  • What was Laura like as an adult? 
  • How did Laura first begin her writing career?
  • What made her write the Little House books? 
Most of all, I hope you will discuss
  • Why is Laura Ingalls Wilder still relevant today?

Laura the Child

Most people think of Laura as a child and teenager since that is how they know her best from her Little House books. Consider highlighting some events from her childhood. Or highlight facts vs. fiction from the books. How was Laura's childhood different than others' on the American frontier? 


You'll want to research this information for yourself. I would strongly suggest you use Pamela Hill Smith or William Anderson's books to do so. If you are near any of the Wilder or Ingalls home sites or the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, I would encourage you to visit them. Here is a partial list of Laura Ingalls Wilder resources

If you do not have Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I would suggest you start there. It's basically a LIW encyclopedia!

Little House Books

Do you want to discuss the Little House books, too? You might like a particular Little House book (or Laura biography). I have some Little House printables to help you get started. 

How to Present

You may want to just share the information about Laura. However, you may also want to create a game or ask others to research a specific Laura topic. Have fun with this!

Next time we'll talk about some activities you might include in a Laura Ingalls Wilder 150th celebration party. If you haven't already subscribed to Little House Companion or my newsletter, please consider doing so! 

Laura Ingalls Wilder Event Posts

Part 3: Pioneer Activities 
Part 4: Pioneer Food
Part 5: Pioneer Decorations

~ Annette Whipple
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September 28, 2016

Laura Ingalls Wilder 150th Birthday Celebration Part 1

Celebrate Laura Ingalls Wilder's 150th BirthdayAs a Little House Companion reader, I suspect you may want to celebrate the 150th birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder on February 7, 2017. Like many others, I'm partnering with some others to plan events near me. (Updates will be on my schedule and announced on Facebook.) If you don't have a Laura Ingalls Wilder 150th birthday event near you, create your own! Here is a partial list of Laura Ingalls Wilder resources. Now is the time to plan!

Whether you are just a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan or on staff at a school, library, or bookstore, this series is designed to help you plan an event to celebrate the life of an author who is still relevant today.

This post is part 1 of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Birthday Celebration series. 

August 30, 2016

How to Make Applesauce

Applesauce was a staple for the Ingalls family. Ma dried apples so she could make apple pie and applesauce year round. Dried apples are a healthy and tasty treat. You can see how easy dried apple chips are to make for yourself. Just add water to re-hydrate dried apples for pie or applesauce! In the meantime, treat yourself to some homemade applesauce this fall!

August 14, 2016

June 11, 2016

Laura Ingalls Wilder School Visit

Last month I had the opportunity to visit a school for a Laura Ingalls Wilder presentation. Since it was a small school, grades 2-5 were included for the presentation. Our original location didn't work out, but we were able to effectively use a classroom.  Using the classroom made it feel personal. It may have been a last minute change, but it was perfect!

We began by discussing why Laura Ingalls Wilder is still relevant after all these years. 
When I talked of Laura's childhood, I showed them my Charlotte rag doll based on Little House in the Big Woods. (See close-ups of Charlotte at the link.)

April 23, 2016

Introducing Charlotte

I have been providing pioneer and Laura Ingalls Wilder workshops for small groups for a couple of years now. Slowly I've been collecting pioneer items to share with children. Many of these are small items, but I knew I wanted something larger for when I share about the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder to large groups of children at a school assembly. To further enhance my presentations, I asked my talented Aunt Kathy to make me a Charlotte doll. She had only Laura's description from Little House in the Big Woods to go on. I marvel at my aunt's talent. She loves to make dolls (and teddies and bunnies), and it shows.
"She had a face of white cloth with black button eyes. A black pencil had made her eyebrows, and her cheeks and her mouth were red with the ink made from pokeberries. Her hair was black yarn that had been knit and raveled, so that it was curly. She had little red flannel stockings and little black cloth gaiters for shoes, and her dress was pretty pink and blue calico."
Meet Charlotte.
 I am so grateful to my aunt Kathy for bringing her to life. Read more about Aunt Kathy's process and see more pictures below.

Charlotte's Stockings

Aunt Kathy said, "I opted out of the red fabric for her legs. I decided it just wouldn't be right, and went on a mission to find red socks. Unsuccessful with knit ones. I ended up buying a red knit hat & I cut out her socks from it LOL."

March 16, 2016

19th-Century Candy

Some of the American pioneers' greatest pleasures came from what we take for granted today. Some of the candy we enjoy today was invented in the nineteenth century.
Storekeepers kept candy on hand for their customers. Here's a description of Laura Ingalls Wilder's first candy heart experience in Pepin, Wisconsin from Little House in the Big Woods.
"Both pieces of candy were white, and flat and thin and heart-shaped. There was printing on them, in red letters. Ma read it for them. Mary's said: 
  Roses are red, 
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet, 
And so are you.
Laura's said only: 
Sweets to the sweet.
The pieces of candy were exactly the same size. Laura's printing was larger than Mary's." 

Conversation Hearts

Though conversations hearts have changed some, they were first invented in the 1860s by the NECCO candy company. They are the best-selling Valentine's Day candy today.

Chewing Gum

Chewing gum has been around for thousands of years. The first patent was given in 1869, and the first flavored chewing gum, called Black Jack, was sold in 1884. Black Jack gum was still sold until recently. Still popular Juicy Fruit was introduced in 1893.

Candy Corn

Candy corn was first made in the 1880s. Though the method of preparing candy corn had changed, the makers still use the original recipe.


Twizzlers candy debuted in 1845 from the Young and Smylie confectionary firm. Licorice was the original flavor.

Tootsie Rolls

Leo Hirschfield invented the rolled chocolate Tootsie Rolls in 1896. They sold for a penny.


The Little House books often mention peppermint sticks as a sweet treat, too. Lemon drops were another popular candy in the 1800s. Chocolate did not become popular in candy until the 20th-Century. Remember Laura's joy over her stick of candy?

What's your favorite 19th-century candy?

~ Annette Whipple