Roost kids go back in time
On July 12, 24 Rustler Roost kids went on an amazing field trip to De Smet to experience the sites and activities related to Dakota Territory pioneer girl and author Laura Ingalls Wilder. Their meals and snacks were picnic style and they traveled as a group in a bus.
The activities began with a guided tour of the Surveyor’s House, schools, and Discovery Center in De Smet. After a stop at the De Smet cemetery to see Ingalls’ graves they went to the Homestead, a large parcel of land where there are numerous hands-on activities available spread throughout the acreage. The culmination was viewing the pageant from the prairie hillside.
During the day, the kids were in a dugout house and a shanty; shelled corn; made corncob dolls/super heroes; helped each other make a rope by twisting twine with a strange machine; actually handled the reins of a team of mules (not to worry- the driver was right behind them holding the reins and was actually in control) as they rode in a covered wagon about one-fourth of a mile to a school, where each one pulled the rope to ring the school bell and did readin’, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic interactions with the teacher; washed dishtowels on a washboard, ran it through the wringer by turning the crank, then hung it on a clothesline with clothespins; made a button toy in the house that is a replica of the Ingalls homestead and located in the exact spot of the original; saw the graves of several of the Ingalls family; toured Brewster School where Laura taught and the Surveyor’s House (their first home in Dakota Territory and in what would become De Smet); made butter and ate it on crackers; worked the treadle of a sewing machine (the top of the machine was enclosed in a lucite box so no fingers would get hurt); played Mary’s organ; played a fiddle; did a relay activity rolling wheels; saw the cottonwood trees Pa planted (one for each of the others in the family) that are well over 100 years old; lounged on blankets on the hillside watching the pageant (our tour guide in the early afternoon was also Laura in the pageant – lucky us!); and more. Oh yes, some even had the experience of using an outhouse.
All-in-all it was a great day with learning happening on many levels. While some “crashed” on the trip home, others were still wide awake when they arrived back at the armory at nearly midnight.