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Christmas on the Prairie

Posted by on 18 December 2008

We spent much of our time today on a field trip with our homeschool group.  The museum here in town is having their “Christmas on the Prairie” days for kids.  If you remember, we went to this same museum earlier in the school year for another field trip.  It’s awesome all the stuff they do!!

This field trip was so fun.  First, the kids had to pick a tree.  It ended up being girls against the boys in the choice.  However, after the guy that was demonstrating for us told the boys that the girls actually made a better choice, they all ran over to that tree and the decision was final.  The boys then got to cut the tree down and drag it into the schoolhouse.

The guides taught about the history of the schoolhouse.  We learned that schoolhouses only used natural sunlight because there was no electricity.  How many students a schoolhouse would hold was basically decided on how many windows it had.  There was 1 window for every 10 students.  Our schoolhouse at the museum had 6 windows, so it was expected to hold 60 students.  They even had the pot belly stove in the middle of the schoolhouse stoked up and warming the room for us.  Our schoolhouse had been used from 1902 to 1939.

 Blue Beaver #61 schoolhouse (found on internet)

From there, the kids proceeded to make ornaments and garlands much the same way that kids using that schoolhouse would have.  They made strings of popcorn and newspaper/magazine garlands.  They got to wrap a nut in foil, attach a string and hang it on the tree.  They were also shown how to make paper snowflakes and they put those on the tree as well.  Finally, they made a paper cornacopia and put candy in it to bring home.

The kids were shown overalls like the boys would have worn to school and a pretty calico dress and bonnet that a girl would have worn.  They learned that many kids went to school barefoot!!

The kids had a great time!!  The field trip ended with one final story by our guide.  It had a big lesson to it and became a huge part of our history.  The story goes something like this:

There was a schoolhouse in Hobart, OK that was preparing their classroom for Christmas.  It was Christmas eve, in fact.  One of the students reached up to the top of the tree to pull a branch down to hang one of their ornaments they’d just made.  Unfortunately, the branch touched one of the lit candles and the tree caught on fire.  The old schoolhouses were dry and caught on fire easily.  So the teacher told the class to get out, but this caused a stampede.  All the students rushed to the back door.  Back then, all doors opened to the inside, so having all the kids running toward the door caused the door to be jammed (and there was screen/mesh on the windows).  33 perished in that fire.  Today, a memorial stands where the shcoolhouse once did.  When you view the names, many are the same.  That day, whole families of children were lost.

And that began the efforts to change which direction doors now open.

I have no pictures of our experience.  We were running out of the house and the last thing on my mind was a camera.  I’m hoping that someone from the homeschool group posts some!!  PLEASE!!

8 Responses to Christmas on the Prairie

  1. Laura

    I see Debbie sitting behind one of the desks! LOL!

    I bet your daughter loves reading Little House on the Prairie books. 🙂

  2. Elaine

    She loves them!! That’s actually the first read-aloud book we did this year for homeschool too. She loves history, but I think she’d just stay in that time period if she could.

    I’m glad they offer so much around here for her to learn and see about!!

  3. Debbie

    Oh, that’s not me. That’s Looly. LOL Laura sure is a troublemaker. LOL

    I would love to see stuff like this. I never seemed to appreciate the opportunities when I was younger. It really fascinates me now.

  4. Laura

    That’s Debbie sitting there. Notice that Debbie carved her name into the desk. LOL!

    If you look carefully you will see me sitting in the corner for pulling on Debbie’s tail. 🙂

  5. Debbie

    How did you find out Laura?! LOL I can’t see you in the corner though.

    Actually, when I was younger, my mom had picked up this old buffet and refinished it and I came along and carved my name in it. Do you know what she gave me as a gift on my 40th roasting? A small wooden box with my name carved in it. LOL I never lived that down. Okay, now I’m smiling. Good memories.

    Elaine, don’t you just love the conversations that go on when you’re not here? LOL

  6. Elaine

    Ah Debbie, I love watching the convo between you two. You make me laugh!! It’s such a fun way to keep a topic going too.

    FUN FUN!!

    And I’m going to make both of you stay after school if you’re not nice to each other!!

  7. Laura

    I crawled out the open window and I’m on the swing. Come out and play! 🙂

  8. Elaine

    It’s too cold to play girls!! Now come back in and warm up around the pot belly stove.

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