Step Into the Past at Old World Wisconsin

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We are already fans of Laura Ingalls around here, and we have yet to even read all the original books!  We’ve been reading all the “My First Little House Books” (see what I’m talking about here).  Someday we’ll go through all the original books, but so far we are enjoying the easier books.  Both of my kids find it interesting to talk about pioneers and “the olden days.”  They especially like to hear what they would be doing if they were on a homestead during the pioneer days or if they lived on a farm 100 years ago or more.  They are awestruck just thinking about life without the electronics and conveniences of today!

Enter Old World Wisconsin.  We took a day trip to this amazing museum last week.  It was an absolutely wonderful day.  I didn’t anticipate my son having as great a time as he did, and we ended up being there for about 5 hours without any complaints or whining or “getting tired.”  G and O are 6 and 5 and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The grounds are set up with different areas, each area representing people from different countries.  My heritage is a mix of many European countries, and I really enjoyed seeing old Wisconsin farms built by people from Germany, Norway, and Denmark.  The farms have heirloom gardens to explore and heritage breeds of animals to see.  People in period dress work at each site and interact with the visitors and answer any questions.  The grounds are beautifully maintained.   It is quite large, but trams run between all the areas and we had no problem hopping on and off at the different stops.

The best part of each area were the experiences to enjoy.  All of the buildings are fun to explore on their own, but the best part is trying chores and actually feeling and seeing what it was like to live on one of these late 19th century farms.  In the Norwegian area, not only did we explore the farmhouse, see the sheep, and walk through the beautiful gardens, but we got to card wool and see and feel different woolen mittens and blankets that were made from the wool.  We sat through class at the one-room schoolhouse and learned a couple of fun recess games.

Carding wool.

Carding wool.

Learning about what it was like in a one room schoolhouse.

Learning about what it was like in a one room schoolhouse.

Learning some new "old" playground games.

Learning some new “old” playground games.

 

In the German area, we hung out in the summer kitchen with a wonderful young lady in period dress who showed us how she was making sugar cookies in the old wood-burning oven, how she had made rye bread, and then she took us out to give the two pigs a treat.

Giving a treat to the pigs.

Giving a treat to the pigs.

 

I was in LOVE with the heirloom gardens at each farm.

I was in LOVE with the heirloom gardens at each farm.

Then, we went to a neighboring German farmhouse and learned how to use a huge loom to make fabric.  We stopped in a barn along the way and noticed the adorable baby pigs.  We walked along a wheat field to yet another German farm where we donned wooden shoes to walk out to the chicken coop to look for eggs.  G did some more chores at this house including washing dishes and grinding wheat.  O swept the porch and “mowed” the lawn with an old-fashioned grass clipper.  Funny how much they loved chores when they were at OWW!

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One of the neatest areas is Crossroads Village.  We explored an inn, a blacksmith shop, a shoe shop, a wagon shop and more.  The best was the general store.  We were the only ones in the store and the shopkeeper really took the time to explain things and interact with my kids.  He showed them all the different types of grain for sale and how to use the old scale.  G had a fun time “arguing” with him about words that are used now and weren’t used back then (she was wearing Crocs….he said “no no no, THIS is a crock!”….and held up a ceramic crock, also “vest” vs. “waistcoat”, etc).

Old-fashioned fabrics lined one wall of the general store in Crossroads Village.

Old-fashioned fabrics lined one wall of the general store in Crossroads Village.

We learned how to make shoes at the shoe shop.

We learned how to make shoes at the shoe shop.

There are ample picnic tables, and you could easily bring a picnic lunch, but we chose to eat at the restaurant in the round barn on site.  Good food!  We ordered too much though….it’s just that the German potato salad and cheese curds sounded SO good as extras.  We were starving!

I highly highly highly recommend going to this museum.  We will definitely be going back next summer!

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