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A Little House Christmas

by on December 7, 2010


Little-House-in-the-Big-Woods-Tree

Christmas is here at the Hoover Presidential Library-Museum with a holiday exhibit entitled A Little House Christmas. This exhibit features twenty Christmas trees decorated with themes based on the traditions of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family. 1,366 students are participating in special tours! This year the hour-long visit is hosted by volunteers from the Bethany Lutheran Church wearing pioneer garb. The visit includes tours through the trees, stories from Laura’s books and holiday cartoons.


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Paula, volunteer ffrom Bethany Lutheran Church December 7, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Today I gave a tour to 2nd & 5th grade buddies from West Branch.

The older students especially were very interested in the photo of Pa and Ma because they do not look like the ones the students have seen in books or on TV.

Did Laura’s family have a Christmas tree? I told them “No.” Laura wrote about the only time she saw a Christmas tree was when they went to town to celebrate the new church bell.

Did they really light candles on their Christmas trees? How did they keep from having a fire?
Paula

Tanya, volunteer from Bethany Lutheran Church December 7, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I gave tours to 2nd & 5th grade buddies. They enjoyed the Blacksmith Tree — the horseshoes look like the ones we use now; they also talked about the different sizes. I explained that our feet are different – the same is true for horses so the blacksmith had to heat the metal and shape the horse’s shoe to fit each different horse.

Who made the tree tops and other decorations? Who did all the research and who plans what each tree will be? Who does all the decorating?

The 5th grade buddies were very helpful pointing things out to their 2nd grade buddies.
Tanya

Mary Evans December 7, 2010 at 6:09 pm

The curator and registrar are in charge of the Christmas exhibits. So Marcus and Jenny do the research and plan what each tree will look like. They purchase ornaments online or out of catalogs. Sometimes Rosemary makes some of the decorations when she’s not doing time cards. Staff and volunteers help decorate the trees.

Mary Evans December 7, 2010 at 6:12 pm

“Did they really light candles on their Christmas trees?” Yes, they did. It was quite dangerous. Buckets filled with sand and water were kept close and the trees were lit for only a short time.

Jeni, volunteer from Bethany Lutheran Church December 8, 2010 at 10:33 am

I gave tours to Lakeview Elementary 1st graders. One of the boys knew all about blacksmiths and told us how they heat the metal to bend it into shapes to make the horseshoes. He really liked the saw under the town tree.

One student remembered the Elvis tree that was here on a different year.
Jeni

Vicky, volunteer from Bethany Lutheran Church December 8, 2010 at 10:38 am

I gave a tour to 1st graders from Lakeview Elementary in Solon. They had many comments. *The students really liked the town tree and had a great time decorating our own town tree. *One student told us he lives in a log house. *We talked about all the things we can make in the snow like snow angels, snowmen, hand rpints, Santa Claus, and lots of fun ideas.
Vicky

Bonnie, volunteer from Bethany Lutheran Church December 8, 2010 at 10:41 am

I gave a tour to 5th graders from West Branch. At the candy tree we talked about how very excited Laura was to get one stick of candy in her Christmas stocking and how she licked it very slowly to make it last longer. I asked the students to think about pioneer times next time they got Christmas candy.
Bonnie

Kay, volunteer from Bethany Lutheran Church December 8, 2010 at 10:45 am

The children helped decorate our own tree like the one described in Laura’s book. One little girl asked if they got to keep the pink net bag because she sure would like to have that popcorn ball!
Kay
Also… I use a walker to get around. One of the students asked if the walker was mine. I answered yes. He then assured me that I would get better. He was full of encouragement!!

Vicky, volunteer from Bethany Lutheran Church December 8, 2010 at 10:47 am

The students loved the tree with the Lincoln log cabin on top!
Vicky

Kathy, Volunteer Coordinator December 8, 2010 at 10:50 am

I asked the students from Riverside Elementary which trees they liked the best:
The one with the giant ball of yarn on top!
The one with the squirrel on top!
The one with all the games!
Those big jars of candy on the shelf.
THE CANDY TREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Kathy

Tanya, Bethany volunteer December 8, 2010 at 1:48 pm

The students and teacher enjoyed having time to look at the “real” Laura Ingalls Wilder items on display in the Olberg Room.
Tanya

Holly, Bethany volunteer December 8, 2010 at 1:56 pm

One student said, “I don’t want the dunce hat on MY head!” I told him I was quite sure he would not need to wear it.

Students were asked to identify items related to Laura Ingalls Wilder on the Embroider’s Guild tree, and even spotted the outhouse.

One student asked about the tree by the doors to the Olberg Room. The group decided it is not a “Little House” tree; but it is a tree we would decorate in our homes today.
Holly

Holly, Bethany volunteer December 10, 2010 at 11:04 am

I gave a tour to 1st graders from Wellman. These students were very familiar with the Little House stories. It was obvious that they had read the books and learned about Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Holly

Shawn, Bethany volunteer December 10, 2010 at 11:09 am

I really enjoyed the time I spent with students from Wellman. They were a great group!
Shawn

Sue, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 10, 2010 at 11:18 am

The children wanted to know why Pa’s eyes look as they do in the picture of Pa and Ma. We told them about the camera equipment used in those days and that the old cameras were very slow and were not able to take the sharp pictures we are used to today. We also checked with the curator to be sure and were told that answer was correct, but Marcus then added another piece to the puzzle – he said Pa’s eyes were blue and the old cameras were not able to capture blue as well as darker colors. He went on to say that is why most early movie actors had brown eyes so they would look better on film.
Sue

Del, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 10, 2010 at 11:21 am

I gave a tour to 3rd graders from Mt. Vernon. The children were very interested in the old tools under the Town Tree. We had a good time talking about how they were developed into modern day tools that we are more familiar with today.
Del

Bonnie, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 17, 2010 at 12:18 pm

The children enjoyed the stories very much, and thought the new cup and stick of candy were very special. While we were looking at the craft/mitten tree, we talked about knitting and I was surprised how many of these 3rd grade boys and girls did know how to knit. At the baking tree, the students knew the saying Ma used to recite about which chores were done each day. Many of these children said they help their mom with the baking!
Bonnie

Laura, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 17, 2010 at 12:19 pm

The children listened very well as I read the story. They also enjoyed decorating our own “Town Tree.”
Laura

Bonnie, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 17, 2010 at 12:22 pm

We read “Winter on the Farm” and I asked if anyone had ever milked a cow. The answer was YES! The young man who had milked said he did not like doing it, but he got to taste the milk and he liked it! Many of the students had petted a horse on the nose, cheeks or mane as Almonzo does in the book.
Bonnie

Laura, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 17, 2010 at 12:23 pm

These students were very attentive and listened well to the Laura stories we read.
Laura

Jeanette, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 17, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I gave a tour to kindergarten children from Kalona. The students really enjoyed decorating our own “Town Tree.” After reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder book, we looked at the tree decorated by the Embroiderer’s Guild to see if they could find ornaments showing things they heard about in the story. The hands just flew up and the students located lots of items they remembered hearing about!
Jeanette

Jeni, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 17, 2010 at 12:29 pm

The students asked me what is my favorite tree, and my answer is the Farm Tree. All of these students knew a lot about blacksmiths! I was surprised that so many of these students knew what a flour sifter is when we looked at the Baking Tree. A teacher would like to know how long the Hoover Staff works on the Christmas Tree Exhibit, from deciding on the theme to the exhibit opening and everything in between.

Laura, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 17, 2010 at 12:32 pm

These were really great kids! They all knew about Laura Ingalls Wilder. Kenny asked if he could please help put the rope back across the stanchions in front of our “Town Tree” in the story time room. Thank you, Kenny!
Laura

Paula, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 17, 2010 at 12:36 pm

One students in particular wanted to know if all of the different food ornaments were real food. I told him no, we cannot have real food in the museum so these food ornaments are all artificial.

A students said they have a quilt at their house and they call it the Granny Quilt because their grandmother made it. I said I thought a lot of quilts in all of our homes were probably made by granmothers and could also be called Granny Quilts!

One student really, really wanted to know how to crochet.
Paula

Sue, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 17, 2010 at 12:37 pm

I gave a tour to 1st graders from Washington Elementary. One of the students was named Jack — just like Laura’s dog in the story we read. He thought that was pretty special!
Sue

Del, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 17, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Everyone wanted to know where we get all of these decorations and how long did it take to put up and decorate so many trees.
Del

Mary Evans December 17, 2010 at 12:46 pm

This year it took approximately 19 days to decorate and put up 20 trees. The decorations are ordered from special catalogs.

Mary Evans December 17, 2010 at 12:48 pm

I asked the Curator for the length of time and Marcus replied that they start in September getting ready for the next year’s exhibit.

Eulyn, Volunteer from Bethany Lutheran Church December 20, 2010 at 11:38 am

During story time, one of the boys asked if Laura’s family in the book was a real family. We then went on to talk about fiction and non-fiction books.

The students were fascinated by the fires in the exhibit–the one by the wagon and also the one in the fireplace-they thought both looked like real firesEulyn

Eulyn, Volunteer from Bethany Lutheran Church December 20, 2010 at 11:43 am

I gave a tour to the West Liberty Learning Center, Kindergarten class. We read “Winter on the Farm” and one student asked what apple cider is. I told him it is kind of like apple juice but is made differently.

The children were very interested in the old tools under the town tree.
Eulyn

Kathy, Volunteer Coordinator December 20, 2010 at 11:47 am

The children loved the candy tree, and one girl just wanted to “gobble it all up!” At the blizzard tree they enjoyed hearing the story of Laura and Mary waiting in bed until Pa shoveled the snow off their covers one winter morning.

There was a group of four adults looking at the trees at the same time we were. When we were almost done and leaving to go to the auditorium, two of them offered to move aside so the children could see the toys and game tree. They started talking with the children and pointing out things for them to look at in the “Oelson’s Store.”
Kathy

Mary Evans December 20, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I asked Rolly, our Building Manager, to explain how he constructed the artificial “fires” for the Christmas Exhibit. He said he used small fan motors with amber colored lights and flame shaped white pieces of satin cloth. This should only be done under the supervision of an adult. You may see a photo of the campfire in the Photograph Gallery.

Paula, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 21, 2010 at 11:00 am

These children had read some of Laura’s books, so today we decided to read “Winter on the Farm.” The teacher asked me to stop for a moment so she could tell her students about Almanzo, and she told them that when he grew up he and Laura were married.
Paula

Paula, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 21, 2010 at 11:02 am

We spent a few minutes looking at the items in the display cases, including the Braille book. One boy said that was a handicapped book. When I asked if he knew what kind of handicap, he said, “I think it’s for people who are blind and they read the holes.”
Paula

Paula, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 21, 2010 at 11:04 am

3rd graders from Kalona made the trip today to see the Christmas exhibit. We stopped to look at the train in the lobby. One student asked if they ever have a summer village — whenever we see these sets they are always winter villages.
Paula

Holly, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 21, 2010 at 11:05 am

While reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books we talked a lot about Laura’s doll, Charlotte. The children really liked seeing Charlotte in the display case.
Holly

Kay, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 21, 2010 at 11:06 am

One student asked me if we had recess when I went to school.
Kay

Al, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 21, 2010 at 11:08 am

At the blacksmith tree I told the students a blacksmith did two very important jobs: he made things like horseshoes we saw on the tree and his shop was a repair shop where he fixed things for the settlers and townspeople.
Al

Mary Evans December 21, 2010 at 11:49 am

Pat called the nearest Hallmark store to find out and they sell winter villages and Halloween villages. We looked on the Internet and found several winter villages but no spring, summer or fall villages.

Al, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 23, 2010 at 10:41 am

I really enjoyed the kids! Many of these students had read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and I think coming to the Hoover Library was a great experience for them. It was good for them to look at the “Little House Christmas” exhibit and talk about what life was like in Laura’s time.
Al

Vicki, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 23, 2010 at 10:48 am

While looking at the wild frontier tree, one of the boys noticed there were leaves like the ones on the Canadian flag. At the school house tree, the children really get a kick out of it if they see their names on the slates.
Vicki

Vicki, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 23, 2010 at 10:50 am

Looking at the display case this morning reminded me of a question I was asked during a tour I gave earlier: The children did not know what a rag doll looked like and wondered why there were no rag dolls on the doll tree.
Vicki

Pat December 23, 2010 at 10:53 am

I have a suggestion–Ask the students if they have seen Raggedy Ann or Andy dolls. These are rag dolls the children might be familiar with.
Pat

Kay, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 23, 2010 at 11:01 am

I enjoyed every bit of it — especially seeing all the kids. I used to work at Barnes & Noble and I was the “book lady.” I miss being there during this time of year when there were so many new books and so many children coming in.
Kay

Vicki, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 23, 2010 at 11:02 am

It was GREAT! I thoroughly enjoyed giving the Christmas tours and really liked seeing the kids!
Vicki

Holly, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 23, 2010 at 11:05 am

I had a great time helping! I loved the “Little House Christmas” exhibit, I really liked giving the tours, and I enjoyed seeing so many students and teachers–I knew a lot of them and had even worked with some of the adults.
Holly

Paula, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 23, 2010 at 11:07 am

I totally enjoyed this! The children were delightful and the teachers and parents were very helpful. I hope Bethany can do this again next year.
Paula

Eulyn, Bethany Lutheran Church volunteer December 23, 2010 at 11:09 am

I liked helping with the Christmas Tree tours and I especially enjoyed reading to the students.
Eulyn

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