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    ...I believe that this is a great story for children to hear from a teacher. It does let them know about how lives were different only a hundred years ago. It brings up many questions about how roles within a family have changed, or how they might have stayed the same. One question that can be asked of the students is, what inventions have made life easier on people today?...
Children’s Books - November 17, 2007   

Parent and Teachers guide for use with Growing Seasons

A window on a very personal slice of American history in farm country through the seasons of the year.

Growing Seasons is adaptable for multi-curriculum instruction at the elementary school level. The areas of study include language arts, American history and social studies. A true story of growing up in a farm family at the beginning of the twentieth century, the book emphasizes the importance of literacy as one of the primary tools to a better understanding of the world. Reading is a key to knowledge and enjoyment through the seasons of the year. The web page has a variety of learning activities. In the Children's Activities page, there is a crossword puzzle, based on the jacket art of the book, along with several coloring pages of farm animals.

About Growing Seasons
The family worked the land to provide the food for their table and feed for the animals. Part of what they raised was sold for cash to buy the things which they could not grow or make. Each of the four seasons of the year brought unique challenges.
Chapter Discussion Questions

Kitchen Stove
The kitchen stove was very important to the family. What was the fuel used to make the stove hot? Why didn't the family use another source of fuel?
After taking the stove into their new house, what was the next thing to be put up at the end of the lane? Why do you think that was important?
Mama in the Garden

The garden was essential to the family because it provided much of the food they ate. How many quarts of canned food did Mama prepare for the family to eat over the winter?
Why were patches of sweet corn planted at different times? Do you think this is still done today by people who have gardens? Have you ever helped plant a garden?
Planting Potatoes

What was the purpose of using a stick to measure the distance between the seed potatoes when they were planted? Would it have made any difference if the seed potatoes were closer together?
How did the family keep their potato plants from being eaten by insects and overgrown with weeds?
Cow Girls

The four girls watched the cows graze along side of the road. What was it that they were careful to see that the cows did not eat and why was that?
While one of the girls kept an eye on the cows, what were some of the activities the others might do?
Wash Day

Mama was in charge of keeping the family in clean clothes. Where did she get her soap?
How long did it take to wash and rinse the clothes? Why?
New Car

When Elsie was about ten years old, her parents bought the family's first automobile. What were some of the reasons that Papa and Mama thought that such an expensive purchase should be made?
In the early days of automobile driving in the United States, many of the roads were unpaved. Why do you think this type of road would cause more flat tires?
Summer Storms

The girls were taught early to be aware of the weather and its changes. What were some of the seasonal changes that the family might experience during the year?
When the family went down to the cellar because of a storm, Papa always brought along an ax in case he needed to cut through debris to get the family out of the basement. What other tools could he have taken into the cellar to do the same job?
Papa's Invention

The whole family helped Papa as he prepared to take his invention into town for the Fourth of July celebration. What were some of the things that the four girls were able to do to help Papa get ready?
You can tell from the story that all of the girls were very proud of their Papa. Besides his invention, why else do you think that they looked up to their father?

Taking care of the cows and milking them twice a day was one of the most important chores the girls had. What other animals did they care for each day?
The family drank some of the cows' milk, but the primary use of the milk was to make butter to sell in town. How did Mama make butter and how did she keep it cool before taking it to the owner of the store?
Threshing Day

Threshing day was one of the most exciting days of the whole year for a farm family. Why do you think that was?
The men who came to help Papa with threshing belonged to a threshing ring. Working together, they harvested the oats and straw on all of their farms. What important event happened at the middle of the day?

Getting the ears of corn off of the stalks, out of their husks, from the field and into the corn crib was a job that took months of work. After each ear of corn had been tossed into the wagon, what do you think happened?
When Papa told the girls, "Remember, those heads of yours are not just hat racks!", what was he really saying?

No one really liked it when it came time to butcher. Why do you think it was necessary for farm families in the country to do it ?
Can you think of several reasons why it was done during cold weather?

The family went to church nearly every Sunday morning, missing only those times when the dirt roads were impassable from heavy rains or snow. What was so important to them about going to a service at night and in the cold of winter?
Almost a hundred years ago, children also looked forward to the arrival of Santa Claus. How did Mama prepare for his arrival?
Winter Chores

Some of the work done in the winter was special to that time of year. What were these?
If you were living on farm in the winter a hundred years ago, what are some of the things you would miss from the life you have now?
Another Beginning

It was a long, twenty-mile walk for Elsie and her sister Mabel to the new farm. Explain the importance of them helping Papa during that move.
Why do you think the girls thought that the new house was already starting to feel like home?

Suggested classroom activities

On a map of the United States, locate Illinois and the town nearest to where the family lived.

Measure the distance from where you live to that town.

Using various means of transportation, determine how long it would take to go to their farm.

Compare and contrast the differences between the family's Model T Ford and cars of today.

Discuss those items that were missing from the family's farm life which are common in homes today throughout North America.

Discuss the weekly responsibilities of farm family members in those days and what are some responsibilities in families today.