“Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.” So begins Little House in the Big Woods, the first book in an autobiographical series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder about growing up in 1800’s American. 150 years later, the Little House stories and activities are still wildly popular. And what better way to celebrate Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Birthday than to have a party at the public library as one of our Family Super Saturday events?
My friend, Kathy, is a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and she was the brainchild for this program. I think in total this party only costed our library $25. Laura was able to make fun with the materials that she had, and it is important to show that to our kids today. We set up the library in several activity stations so that families could play games or participate in activities that Laura would have at her own birthday party.
To begin the program, we welcomed all the children and families into our Storytime/Programming room. We sat on the Magic Storytime Carpet and we had a discussion about Laura where the kids were able to talk about her, what they knew about her life, and any books they had read in the Little House Series. Kathy and I then took turns reading from the Little House picture books for about 15 minutes. This helped anchor our group into what we were doing, and it also allowed us 15 minutes for families to come in if they arrived late. We read, “Winter Days in the Big Woods”, “Sugar Snow” and “A Little House Birthday”. Then, I gave the kids a quick tour of the stations that we had set up. Basically, I just walked them around the two rooms where we had activities, told them about the station and what they could do there. These are the stations that we had prepared:
- Button spinners
- Laundry washing station. I ordered a laundry board from Amazon.
- Play with corn husk dolls
- Marbles and Jacks
- Cat’s cradle
- Paper dolls
- Lincoln logs
- Quilt exploratory station & quilt coloring page designing station
Once the kids saw what we had, they quickly sorted themselves and began the station they were most excited about. I am a big believer that music makes all the difference in setting a mood. I took out my laptop and turned on Pandora radio to a station I made featuring folk musicians Jay Ungar and Molly Mason. The music helped a lot! After about 30 minutes of free play at the stations, we cut up birthday cake which Kathy had made. I took out my fiddle, went around to the kids, and showed them the instrument and invited them to touch it. I then played a few fiddle tunes, just like Laura’s Pa would have done. After cake, the kids went back to their stations.
We began this program at 10:00 a.m., and by 11:00 a.m. the kids were about done. I was surprised that the parents and kids loved it so much, and they wanted to stay so long. The last family left an hour and half after the program started. A parent commented to me that kids today are just as interested in old-time fun as kids were years ago. It just takes programs like this to make them aware of how much they are interested. You do not always need a screen to be entertained.
One mother commented to me while she was getting her kids ready to go that she felt programs like this were important, because it showed her children what people used to do to make joy with what they had. A little girl told me that she loved seeing how things where done when Laura was a little girl, like her. A four-year-old made my day by hugging me and saying, “Yeah! That fiddle player was the best!”