The Modern Adventures of Mary and Laura

October 27th, 2011 by Dionna | 3 Comments
Posted in Carnival and Special Series, Children, Eclectic Learning, Families, Create!, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, Preschoolers

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We’ve been reading Little House on the Prairie – both the full version chapter book, and the picture books appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers.

While the chapter book is often much wordier and more advanced than some of the other chapter books we enjoy, Kieran has really liked the story as a whole. He is fascinated (of course) by the fact that Pa carries a rifle with him everywhere, he has asked many questions about the “Indians” and why Laura was scared of them, we have plans to go to a local museum so that he can scope out a covered wagon and old-fashioned tools, and we’ve been playing a lot of pretend.

Usually he directs me to be Ma, and he pretends to be Mary (Is it surprising to anyone else that he chooses to be Mary? I assumed he would identify more with the younger Laura!). Our main function in life (as it is so often in the book) is to cook. He loves pretending to cook over a campfire, and we serve all manner of wild game and the ever-present cornmeal muffins. We also discuss the concept of regular chores, which are not so defined in our own home.1

During our pioneer pretend play, I have to stifle a giggle when Kieran brings in modern conveniences to make life easier.

The first time he did this, he had “gone to the creek to get a bucket of water.” (This was before Pa built us a well, naturally.) I was waiting for him by the campfire, and in the next room I heard him saying “beep beep beep beeeeeeeep!” When he came back I waited for an explanation, and he did not disappoint – he said, “I went to the creek to get water and I built us a sink!”

I’m not sure what kind of sink beeps like a microwave, but the sound effects were pretty cool. And really, why haul water to and from a creek every day when you can just whip up a modern sink?!

Another day, I was Ma and he was Pa.
He handed me a toy cell phone and directed: “Now, you call Pa and ask him, ‘When are you going to come back from hunting?'”
Me: “You want me to call Pa on the phone and ask him?”
Kieran: “Yes. Call him.”
Me: “Ring ring – Hi Pa, you’ve been hunting a long time, and we are hungry. When will you be home for supper?”
Kieran: “I haven’t found any deer yet. No meat tonight. Bye!”

Them’s the breaks in prairie life.

It amuses me that he can act so gracious and impressed when I (Ma) give him (Mary) a new calico dress and a matching doll for his “birthday,” and yet in the next breath, he’s pretending that Mary is playing Mario on the Wii.

At any rate, we’ve had a lot of fun pretending to be pioneers. Here are some thought-provoking questions you can use with your own young child that can stimulate many more learning opportunities (these are all things Kieran and I have talked about either while reading or playing):

  • Think about what we do every day – how is the way we live different from the way Mary and Laura live? (Then list your daily routine – going to the bathroom, brushing teeth, getting breakfast, etc.
  • What kinds of things did the Ingalls family make that we normally buy today? And what could we make instead of buying it?
  • How would life be different if we did not have phones, mail service, transportation, or computers? (Referring to when Ma talked about how long it would take to send and receive a letter from family in Wisconsin.)

By the way, I wrote this post as my submission for the Families, Create! Blog Carnival. Our theme this month is “Phizzwhizzers.” Phizzwhizzers are the odd and out of the ordinary, the dreams we aspire to, standing up when others don’t, the individuality that makes as unique. Whenever Kieran brings an element of today’s world into our pioneer play, I think about how incredible that would seem to Mary and Laura – and how unique Kieran is for bringing the two worlds together through play.

Check out what Families Create! participants created this month:

Brenna at Almost All The Truth creates the dreams of dreamers with her children with a little help from Roald Dahl.

Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children found the perfect fish hatto make for one of her phizzwhizzing children.

It’s Little House on the Prairie complete with modern plumbing, cell phones, and video games. Mary and Laura would surely find Kieran’s imagination to be full of phizzwhizzers! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares how her son (Kieran) combines pioneer play with today’s conveniences.

A new birthday tradition evolved at Living Peacefully with Children when Mandy and her daughter worked on a funky pinkalicious cake.

Please join us for November’s Families Create! Make and Play challenge. This month’s theme is Rhymes and Verse!

  1. Kieran doesn’t have set “chores,” we simply ask Kieran to help with whatever we’re doing. He often helps with laundry or dishes, and I do expect him to take a large role in cleaning up his toys.

3 Responses to:
"The Modern Adventures of Mary and Laura"

  1. MomAgain@40   karentoittoit

    Thanks for the inspiring post!
    It is great to e able to use books and stories in such a way as to demonstrate history and technology and relationships etc.

  2. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    That is hilarious! I love what kids will come up with. When I was in junior high, my favorite game to play with my best friend was “Jo and Laurie Go to the Future” (our take on Little Women).

  3. Amusing to me, as I have often thought how Laura Ingalls would adjust to our life today if she were suddenly transported as a child 100 yrs in the future.

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