Prairie Primer

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  • Reviewed on Wednesday, April 11, 2012
  • Grades Used: 1st & 3rd
  • Dates used: 2011-2012
This was our first unit study. I was a little afraid of branching out from main-stream education. I am SO glad we did! We loved "The Prairie Primer." While some people have commented on here that there was too much girl stuff, I disagree! We did a Nature Discovery field trip. We studied guns, gun safety, made moccasins (my son's request) teepee, dissected owl pellets, studied light refraction, prisms, wolfs, bears, bees, washed laundry by hand, Indians, covered wagons, snakes, mustangs, and the list goes on. If there is something "girly" that my daughter wanted to do (corn-cob doll) but my son didn't than I let him pick something more boyish. I would say that has been the rare occasion, though, not the norm. Both of them have thoroughly enjoyed every day of school. They consider the "Prairie Primer" not being part of school because its the fun part.

If you are the type of person that MUST follow a curriculum 100% than this is NOT for you. However, if you are o.k. substituting something else then by all means GO FOR IT! This is a fantastic learning experience.

We sometimes got sidetracked and jumped off "The Prairie Primer" when we loved studying about something. For instance, when we dissected owls we spent about 2 weeks studying just owls. If there is something like that that we loved we'd do it. We didn't finish the whole book this year. I am still undecided if I want to continue next year or to move on. I think that I could make the book last 3 years if we did everything in it.

The cons to me: I wish that this included spelling & grammar as well, but I easily supplemented with my own. There are a lot of L/A type activities included but not strong enough to stand alone. There are frequently vocabulary words, dictionary skills, etc. You will occasionally find a typo, or not understand the concept, but I found that to be true with A Beka as well. Some of the books listed were a little out-dated. But, then, they were very easily substituted with another book.

Several people talk about how much prep work this takes. Here, too, I disagree. I did about 1 weeks worth of prep during the summer. That included buying any resources that I wanted. Then, I also created a spread sheet that had the items that I would frequently need to do/buy, etc. My spreadsheet has a section of web-links to refer to, items to borrow, library books to check out, and any items to buy (usually food) to make whatever "Prairie" type dish. More often than not I had things on hand. The most used area was the web and the library. I maybe (at the most) spend 1 hour per week preparing. I did that with other main-stream things I was using too. And, for the time I spend preparing it is well worth the excitement of learning together in a fun way. I enjoy teaching so much more and they love the experience of learning. What more can I ask?

Overall, I am amazed at the level of learning that my children got this year in such a fun way! We absolutely LOVED this year.

Don't hesitate to go with "The Prairie Primer" if you're considering it - as long as you can do your own thing from time to time.


  • Reviewed on Sunday, May 1, 2011
  • Grades Used: Not yet
  • Dates used: 00
I do have a copy of the PP, and have read about half of it. I just want to post my opinions on some of the comments posted here. It seems that some do not know what is actually involved in most unit studies. If a person goes into this knowing the nature of unit studies then she will not be so turned off by the requirements. I realize that not everyone gets along with unit studies so maybe something I say will either help you do decide against PP or to help one see that it is not as hard as some think it is.

Books go out of print all of the time. Rarely are unit study authors able to revise every time this happens. For the most part it is very easy to replace a bios listed with another. I mean even in my poor library system there are bios on Thomas Jefferson. You are not locked into the one listed in the manual, it is only a suggestion. There are no comp questions that are book specific except for the LH books. In the back of my copy there are the top ten used resources. Though some are out of print most were not hard to come by at market place. Also it is important to remember, as with many unit studies, you are not required to do every lesson listed. There is much to choose from, so if you are unable to find info on say mosquitoes then skip it -or- use an encyclopedia or google. Easy peasy. For the history if you don't want to gather books from the library every so often then a simple ABeka text will give you surface information so that at least your child is familiar with the topics that arise.

About the time needed for prep. I honestly don't see anything out of the ordinary when I compare what is required of PP to that of other units we have used. The nature of most unit studies is you will have to gather materials.
~~Bible, - it can't get any easier. Most Christians have a Bible on hand so this is a non issue.
~~literature/language arts, - most people have a dictionary, thesaurus and concordance. Note book paper is usually on hand too.
~~science and history- this is where your leg work will come in. Again nothing out of the ordinary.
~~art, - yep occasional poster board or corn cob. If you don't want to gather the items skip it. No problem. Occasionally there is something like a loom project (can be a pot holder) or a telegraph project that requires wires (from Radio Shack). If these are too complicated for your liking then don't worry with them.
~~creative writing,- note book paper.
~~cooking,- we all have to eat right. If you don't want to have a cooking lesson for school (which is a pretty good idea considering our fast food obsession in this country) then skip it.

Really there is nothing here that is any different than any other unit study. And with the planning guide you don't have to read thought tones of lessons to find out what you need. Just turn to the planning guide a week or so before you get to that point and look to see what you will need from the library or store. What I like to do with the studies that we have done in the past is to gather ALL the materials that we need for the year with the exception of consumables. This way I just go to the shelf and pull what we need when we need it.

Anyway, like I said we have not used PP yet as my dd is not old enough, so I don't have personal experience with PP to share. But I want to say thanks to those who have used it and posted review of your experiences.


  • Reviewed on Thursday, September 24, 2009
  • Grades Used: 1st-4th
  • Dates used: 2009-2009
I don't want to be a "negative nellie" here but I was really disappointed in this curriculum. We were really looking forward to this unit study. It has a ton of info, which is great, but it also points you in directions that are no longer in print. The books that it asks you to find and read are nowhere to be found. And if you are doing anything else it asks a lot of your time. Not the planning really but the actual classtime. I wondered, when are we supposed to have time for math, science and other subjects?Those are the reasons that I think that it was frustrating for me. As for my children, they have other reasons. They love the shows,and love the actual books too. But the activities, I dare say are not "boy-friendly". The Primer seems to be a prepare your girl how to be a young lady which is great for moms of girls. But not so great for two boys who were so looking forward to doing some hands-on activities. Activities that didn't include; making a doll, learning to be good hostess, discussing why (girl)character's clothing and hair were so important to them and how they looked. Like I said, based on great literature but the activities were not really boy-friendly, in my opinion.


  • Reviewed on Sunday, November 16, 2008
  • Grades Used: 3rd Grade
  • Dates used: 2009-2010
I purchased the "Prairie Primer" because my daughter was interested in doing a unit study on the "Little House" books.
I love the concept of using the Little House series to learn about the westward movement/pioneer era.
However after looking the curriculum over the unit study I see some red flags which could deter a parent from using this curriculum.
1. The curriculum has been updated once since it was written,
in the year 2000. Since then many of the books which are
required for the curriculum have gone out of print or are no
longer available.
2. A high amount of time is required by the teacher for prep
time. The teacher is to gather all of the materials needed
prior to starting the teaching week. Materials need to be
gathered for Bible, literature, science, art, creative
writing, cooking, and history. This also includes extra time
spent searching for library books/videos to replace those
which have gone out of print.
3. The description of assignments is vague. The instructions
give ideas for what topic is to be taught. If you are a
teacher who needs step by step instruction this curriculum
will probably not work well for you.
I do think it would be worth the authors time to revise/expand this unit study as there is so much information here for this particular time period.