Missouri Town 1855 & The Little House Project

Little House on the Praire at Starlight

    About The Little House Project: As a child, the very first "chapter books" I read were "The Little House Books." I remember watching the television series and falling in love with the history of pioneers through the Ingalls family. I wanted to share the stories with my own girls (we have three, just like the Ingalls) and I wanted the stories to jump off the pages and capture their imaginations just as they had mine. With Little House on the Prairie: The Musical coming to Starlight Theatre in Kansas City (June 22-27, 2010), I decided it was time to dust off the beloved books and introduce Little House to my girls. The "My First Little House" picture book series was a wonderful introduction for my young girls, and my oldest loves the original chapter books... but each book introduces new vocabulary and concepts unfamiliar to my 21st century kids. As we read about churning butter, trundle beds, covered wagons, ox yokes, and log cabins images of Kansas City's wonderful historic sites and museums came to my mind and thus the idea for The Little House Project was born. My girls and I are embarking on Day Trips in Kansas City exploring what life was like for Laura and her family through the wonderful museums and sites across our metro. This is just the beginning.... we encourage you to read along and journey with us as we escape to the 1800s with the Ingalls for the next six weeks in anticipation of Little House on the Prairie: The Musical in Kansas City! ~ Kristina Light


Missouri Town 1855: Imagining life in Walnut Grove

    The Little House on the Prairie television series took us to the prairie town of Walnut Grove and Missouri Town 1855 is the closest thing to it in Kansas City! The antebellum village is a collection of homes, businesses, and buildings from the towns of western Missouri all situated on thirty acres of land. Staff and volunteers dress in period attire as they bring the town to life!

First Stop: Missouri Town 1855

Missouri Town 1855: Rope MakingMissouri Town 1855: 8010 Southeast Park Road, Blue Springs, MO. 816.524.8770. (Part of the Jackson County Parks and Recreation)

Admission: Adults $5, Children (5-13) $3, Seniors (62+) $3, Children Under 5 are FREE
Hours: March 1-November 15: Tuesday-Sunday 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
November 16-February 28: Weekends only 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Children's Day 2010: June 5th from 9am-4:30pm. Time honored games, such as sack races, tug-of-war and pie eating contests are just a few of the many special activities that will provide your children with a unique day.

Our Day at Missouri Town: We visited Missouri Town on Sheep Shearing Day, and I have to admit my first thought was, "I wish they would rename this event....it is MUCH more than Sheep Shearing and MUCH better than the name suggests!" It is "Sheep Shearing Day" because the focus of the day is on the fiber arts (shearing, dying, spinning, and weaving wool), but the festivities included many more fun and educational activities and our only regret after three hours at Missouri Town was that we didn't have MORE time to explore the village! We had a wonderful time "living like Laura" for a day!

   A visit to Missouri Town is always fun, but I strongly recommend visiting during a special event so you can watch the town come to life.

   Our day at Missouri Town began when we met Moses, a gentle oxen who loved eating straw straight from our hands. We then wandered to the pastures where we watched sheep shearing (see video below). Throughout the day the girls helped wash and dye wool and then watched spinning and weaving. 

   If you've read Little House in the Big Woods, you may remember the dance at Grandpa's house. The highlight of our day was watching the Missouri Town Dancers (see video below) and then learning the May Pole dance along with them!

   After dancing, we returned to more practical things as the girls learned how to make their own ropes (a wonderful take home souvenir). Rope making was followed by a visit to the Blacksmith shop where the men were busily making tools for the farm.

    The buildings (Colonel's House, Schoolhouse, Smokehouse, Tavern, Chicken Coop, Blacksmith Shop, Hog Shed, Church, Law Office, Livery Stable (where you boarded a Surrey for free rides), and multiple homes and barns) were open for exploring. There were volunteers throughout answering questions, guiding tours, and demonstrating period crafts and skills. We listened to a beautiful hammer dulcimer performance (see video below), watched hearth cooking, and asked MANY questions, all of which were answered by the helpful and well informed staff and volunteers who were all too eager to share their love of history with the kids! Missouri Town 1855 is a MUST SEE!

Missouri Town 1855 Photo Gallery: You must have a Shockwave Media Player installed to view.

Second Stop: Native Hoofed Animal Enclosure

Buffalo at the Native Hooved Animal EnclosureAcross the street from the Missouri Town in Fleming Park

The 110-acre fenced enclosure is home to bison, elk, and white-tailed deer. As we left Missouri Town, we drove across the road and to the Native Hooved Animal Enclosure where we watched the majestic bison roam the prairie, just as described in the books. Imagine hunting for white-tailed deer or elk in the Big Woods with Pa. It is wonderful to see these native animals, and a visit to see them is FREE! (Part of the Jackson County Parks and Recreation)


Bonus: KCParent.com video from Missouri Town 1855 

Missouri Town Dancers: Sheep Shearing at Missouri Town: Hammer Dulcimer at Missouri Town:


More on The Little House Project

The Little House Project continues through the end of June 2010! We'll be embarking on Day Trips across Kansas City to explore life as Laura lived for the next several weeks. To follow the newest installments subscribe to the KCParent.com eNewsletter!

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