When E and Z's teacher assigned them projects for their Little House on the Prairie unit, to be completed at home this month, I almost had a conniption. But it turned out to be a good thing for the projects to coincide with holiday preparations, because it kept me from getting over-involved, pushing the kids to more complicated projects that I would end up doing mostly myself. It was fun to "help" M make his Little House log cabin four years ago, but there was no way that was going to happen in December.
Z knew right away that he wanted to bake bread. We checked out the Little House Cookbook from the library, read the section on bread and how all the ingredients work. Z made the 'light bread' recipe. He did all the measuring, mixing, kneading, and shaping, while I stood by with the camera. The only part he didn't do was take the bread out of the hot oven (this photo is staged). Then he wrote a short report with the recipe and pictures of all the stages of production. We put the bread in the freezer and brought it out yesterday morning before school. It was kind of nice having his project all done almost two weeks in advance. I also really like that this is a totally consumable project and will not add to the stack of box projects we already have in the basement.
I thought it would be kind of nice for E to do a project that involved a pioneer skill as well. Since he already knows how to knit, I suggested that, but he refused. We got a couple of books on pioneer projects and crafts, but mostly they're 'girly' crafts like sewing and quilting. There were no 'making bullets' or 'carving a bracket' or 'staring down a bear to get to the honey tree' projects in any of the books. Now, all my boys can hand sew a little, and E can knit, but I guess he's not quite ready to take those skills out in public. I suggested making a covered wagon from a clementine box, but he didn't like that idea nearly as much as I did (I might still make one for myself!). Finally he settled on a diorama. I stood by and made helpful suggestions regarding materials and helped him find supplies and held things together while he squeezed on the glue and cut out the horses with a razor blade, but otherwise tried to stand back while E made a milk carton cabin and barn and a jewelry box wagon with button wheels and twist tie hoops. I think it's pretty darn cute (and I could go crazy cutting out tiny people and making a tiny vegetable garden and putting tiny supplies in the wagon, but I restrained myself).