Inside the Log House Program

Historic Arkansas Museum - Thursday, January 29, 2015

“Do you really live here?”

Kids really ask that question when they come for a Log House Program—probably because the education staff takes such time to create an authentic experience.

To get ready for a Log House Program, the staff come early (around 7:30 am)—1 ½ hours before the program begins, to light the fire and set up for the day. Actually, though, the staff starts even earlier to prepare—about a month earlier—with a fall cleaning of the Log House which includes washing the wood floors with lye soap.

The Log House Program is one of the most loved programs, by the kids and the staff. “The Log House Program is the whole reason I work here,” says Hands-on Programs Coordinator Jamie Blakely. Joleen Linson, Education Coordinator, echoes her sentiment, “It’s my favorite thing that we do. For the kids, instead of just seeing things they get to actually DO things.”

This year when the children come to the Log House grounds, it will look much more like a working farmstead. As this is being written, fences are going up, a barn is being finished off, a smokehouse was recently added and the chimney of the slave quarters is taking shape—four new structures in all (the privy being the one unmentioned) add to the look, feel and educational opportunities of the Log House area.

The Log House Program consists of lessons in 19th century cooking, lighting and textiles. Because this is a DOING kind of thing these lessons translate into activities such as grinding corn, churning butter, dipping candles and carding wool.

Kids learn things like what a dasher is (the “stick” used in churning butter), the difference between concussion and percussion churning (in concussion churning, you slosh the milk and in percussion churning, you strike it—with, say, a dasher). They also learn that people were very imaginative with finding and using dyes for their fabrics. They used things like yellow onion skins, pokeweed berries, oak bark and cochineal beetles. The beetles produce a deep red dye and were used to make the Red Coats red. And, they learn if you are going to the barn at night in the 1800s, you might want to take along a punched tin lantern instead of a betty lamp. The lantern, try as you might, you just can’t blow out (the tin is punched out and deflects the wind).

The two-hour Log House Program is available to school groups 10 am - Noon on Tuesdays in October, November, March, April and May. To request a reservation, call (501)324-9351 or email [email protected] .