On Saturday, we had another kids book club meeting, and we decided on the great American classic, Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. If you haven’t read it, well, you should. It is a very cozy story for wintertime as you follow Laura Ingalls and her family through all four seasons and such stirring excitements that come with living in the woods.
For modern girls living in Stockholm, it is unimaginable to think of how exciting it was for Laura and Mary to go to a town. And several of the girls agreed that the part where Ma smacks a bear on the rump was pure comedy. Somehow I can’t see that happening anywhere near here. These days, it would be more likely that some unobservant texter might walk into a bear, if we had them. . .
Anyway, here is a quick blurb from Goodreads.com:
Wolves and panthers and bears roam the deep Wisconsin woods in the late 1870’s. In those same woods, Laura lives with Pa and Ma, and her sisters, Mary and Baby Carrie, in a snug little house built of logs. Pa hunts and traps. Ma makes her own cheese and butter. All night long, the wind howls lonesomely, but Pa plays the fiddle and sings, keeping the family safe and cozy.
For this book club, I borrowed a fake fireplace from a friend to put in the bookshop, and we circled around it to talk about the story. I asked the girls if they could imagine even 30 minutes of their day without lights, cell phones, internet, a microwave, and all the other modern comforts that Laura lived without 140 years ago.
Now, as you know by now, we always have fika (a snack) with the girls, and at the beginning of the book club, I surprised them all by saying that they would have to work for their fika. They had to make their own butter for the bread. I poured a little bit of cream into a container, sealed it tight, put a plastic bag around it (just in case), and we began shaking. It worked out really well. We passed the container around the circle, and each girl who had the container talked about her favorite part of the book or how it would be to live in that time period. As we shook, the cream thickened into whipped cream, and then it got really watery again. At the end of the discussion, we opened the container, and the girls were all shocked to see creamy yellow butter! Ta-dah!
Inevitably, our conversation took a turn toward all the references to pigs in the story, as well (blowing up a pig’s bladder and using it as a ball, snacking on a pig’s tail, making head cheese, etc), so we decided to make our own pigs.
I found instructions for an origami pig online, and we went through each step together until we ended up with a whole herd of pigs. I also sent the girls home with instructions to make their own origami bears.
Living deep in the Wisconsin woods, it is unlikely that Laura did origami, but the idea was to get the kids thinking about quieter hobbies, and it worked out really well. When the parents arrived, though, all anyone could talk about was the butter. Who knew that shaking a plastic container for 20 minutes would be such a hit?