One-Room School Urban Legends

Remember to look out for urban legends.

Sarah's Notebook

Bubbler jug and other drink and lunch buckets Bubbler jug and other drink and lunch buckets

I recently stopped at one-room school museum that I had never been at before. There it was, my old nemisis “Rules for Teachers 1872” staring up at me. If you haven’t run across this old chesnut before or its sibling the “Eighth Grade Exam of 1895” count yourself very lucky. Here’s the links to information about them:

I have known people for years who’ve tried to find one instance of either of these being used in an actual school and if anyone has one I would be most glad to see it. However, even if they were proved to be used in some school, some time, they still are an ill fit for most of the school museums that proudly display them. Please DON’T pass them on.

UPDATED July 21 2018: I spend a lot of time trying to…

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Movie: Nancy Drew Movie

Revisiting a review of a great movie.

Sarah's Notebook

What Would Nancy Drew Do?**Spoilers Possible** I recently got the chance to see the new 2007 Nancy Drew movie starring Emma Roberts. I came away marveling that they managed to get it made. Unlike the absolute mess of the last attempt in 2002 (which seemed to have as much of a grasp of what people liked about Nancy Drew as the pitiful Dukes of Hazzard movie did about what people liked about that show), this one touched all the bases. I could have done without the subplot where Nancy has to deal with “normal” teenagers in LA, but I was amazed how little Hollywood managed to mess things up.

Nancy is the absolutely brilliant, super nice, supremely compotent, good at everything heroine we’ve always known. The world she lives in seems to be the one from the books with all the rules intact with the addition of cell phones and digital recorders. She makes…

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Wilder Pageant Production Rescheduled

Flood in front of Walnut Grove Pageant Set
Flood in front of Walnut Grove Pageant Set

TO: All Media Outlets
FR: William Richards, Wilder Pageant Press
RE: Site Damages and Change of Performance Dates
DA: July 3, 2018

Heavy rain, flooding, storm damage and cleanup have pushed back the opening of the Wilder Pageant Production. This weekend’s shows have been rescheduled. Performances will now run Thursday, Friday and Saturday for two weekends. Dates are now July 12, 13, 14 and July 19, 20 and 21. Current ticket holders may exchange tickets for any of the other performances. Pageant Suppers and the Family Festival are cancelled for this weekend.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove could be called the Big Flood on the Prairie. With over nine inches of rain in a very short time, several Southwest Minnesota communities lost power, saw roads washed out with many flood and no travel warnings.

Plum Creek took a lead roll and covered the pageant site in three to eight feet of water. There was damage to sets, costumes, sound and light equipment as well as access roads at the Wilder Pageant site. The extent of the repairs will be fully determined when the water recedes. Cast, crew and community are pitching in to clean, rebuild and repair the site so that the 41st production will be a success.

As our “Old Laura says in the production, “Sooner or later the grasshopper fly away and the creek goes down”. For more information check out the Wilder Pageant Web site at

See you then!

There will be a link emailed with footage of the water at the site later this evening.

Images show audience view of stage area and rescue of calf used in show called ‘Spot’.

Rescuing Spot from Pageant Grounds
Rescuing Spot from Pageant Grounds

The Future is an Unknown Country: How to Prepare Your Kids

Another of my education series.

Sarah's Notebook

This is the third in my series of newsletter articles related to gifted education:

One of the biggest challenges that face both teachers and parents is how to prepare kids for the world they will live in as adults, a world that is changing so fast in technology, job skills, and in every other way. Just think how poorly people have projected the future over the years, or do you get your mail by pneumatic tube and go to work in a flying car or jet pack?

Too often students are only asked to memorize facts, figures, names, dates, places, and events. Subjects are frequently taught in isolation and seldom used in context with each other. The assumption has been that if facts are learned they could apply this information. Researcher Howard Gardner has shown that many of even the best students cannot apply facts they’ve learned when faced with…

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What’s in a Name Trundlebed Tales

What’s in a name?

Sarah's Notebook

cropped-img_3532-1.jpgAccording to a list in the Laura Ingalls Wilder/ Rose Wilder Lane Papers at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, the following were all possibilities in contention for being the title of the book ultimately published as Little House in the Big Woods. I had always enjoyed thinking about this list of names and although I think they definitely chose the right title for the book, I was always partial the last option on the list.

Little Pioneer Girl

Long Ago Yesterday

Little Girl in the Big Woods

Long Ago in the Big Woods

Laura in the Big Woods

The Day Before Yesterday

Little Girl of Yesterday

Little Girl of the Wild West

Trundle-bed Tales

When it came time to name my speaking services, I definitely wanted to avoid any direct connection with “Little House” which is a legally complicated trademark.  Several other options I might have considered were already…

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June 2018 Laura Ingalls Wilder Events

June is the start of summer and that’s when events at the homesites spring into full gear. Besides our normal events we have a few one-offs this year including a very unique fundraiser at Mansfield and a piece of unsettling news.

Independence KS

Prairie Days – Saturday, June 9, 2018 10am-4pm

Burr Oak IA

Laura Ingalls Wilder Days  June 22-24, 2018

Spring Valley MN

Annual Ice Cream Social – June 15, 2018

Mansfield MO

Justamere Club Painting Event: This is a plein air event (painting in the open air) for a $60.00 ticket you’ll get: all of the needed painting supplies, a guided painting session, tours of the Homes and Museum, refreshments and a guided conservation activity. This Event is limited to the first 30 tickets sold. Your tickets may be purchased  online  or by calling 417-924-3626.

Vinton IA

Tours are still available, but events are in doubt due to uncertainty of the future of the building. If you really want to visit do it before June 1, 2018.

American Writers Museum – Chicago, Illinois

Laura Ingalls Wilder: From Prairie to Page Exhibit from November 18, 2017 – Spring 2018

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Student Contracts

Student contracts can help students and teachers.

Sarah's Notebook

The last one in my series of education articles:

In the past, education has been too much about a “sage on the stage,” a teacher being the source of all wisdom and lecturing the class. Today, many teachers rather seek to be a “guide on the side,” helping students to have a more active role in their learning. One way this is being expressed is in student contracts also known as learning contracts. A student contract is a written agreement between a teacher and a student where the learner agrees to complete tasks in a set amount of time on his or her own.

Student contracts are beneficial to students because the contract allows recognition of how students learn in different ways, at different speeds, and with different levels of interest. This is especially important today as the student population is likely to be more diverse than ever. Student contracts…

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