Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills

Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills: "
Have you ever read to your children a book that explains an old fashioned way of doing things?

Maybe a book about a family that makes their own maple syrup, goats milk cheese, raises cows or sews quilts?

Have you ever wanted a resource book that will help you learn more about living a simple life?

Maybe you want to grow organic tomatoes or make bread without preservatives?



Back to Basics is a practical book I’ve used over and over again in our unit studies to help my children and I

experience and learn about skills and handicrafts our grand parents practiced.

I used Back to Basics with our February read aloud Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen.

On pages 242 –243 in Back to Basics, we learned about how three maple trees, the Sugar Maple, the Black Maple and the

Norway Maple tree produce the most syrup. We also read about the tools and techniques for tapping and how to turn sap into syrup.



Did you know goats milk makes a mild cheese and can develop an ammonia taste if stored to long?

Or that mozzarella cheese is made from the milk of the water buffalo?

Learn about how to make cream cheese, build a simple cheese press and make cheddar cheese on pp. 236-237.



Reader’s Digest Back to Basics How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills is

published by The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, New York /Montreal.

It’s 450 pages and is divided into six parts.

Part One Land: Buying It- Building on It includes:

  • Buying Country Property
  • Planning Your Home
  • Preparing the Site
  • Converting Trees Into Lumber
  • Building a Log Cabin
  • Building with Adobe
  • Building a Stone House
  • Raising a Barn
  • Developing a Water Supply
  • Saunas and Hot Tubs
  • Sanitation
  • Fireplace Construction and Design
  • Stone Walls and Brick Pavements
  • Fences

Part Two: Energy From Wood, Water, Wind and Sun includes:

  • Making Your House Energy Efficient
  • Wood as a fuel
  • Heating With Wood
  • Water Power
  • Wind Power
  • Solar Energy
  • Other Energy Sources

Part Three: Raising Your Own Vegetables, Fruit, And Livestock includes:

  • The Kitchen Garden
  • Gardening in Limited Space
  • Herb Gardens
  • Fruits and Nuts
  • Pest Control
  • Grains and Grasses
  • Beekeeping
  • Fish Farming
  • Raising Livestock

Part Four: Enjoying Your Harvest The Year Round includes:

  • Preserving Produce
  • Preserving Meat and Fish
  • Making Your Own Dairy Products
  • Maple Sugaring
  • Homemade Beverages
  • Baking Bread
  • Regional Cooking
  • Cooking With Wood

Part Five: Skills and Crafts for House and Homestead includes:

  • Natural Dyes
  • Spinning
  • Weaving
  • Hooked Rugs
  • Braided Rugs
  • Patchwork Quilting
  • Rope and Twine
  • Tanning and Leatherwork
  • Woodworking
  • Broom making
  • Scrimshaw
  • Household Recipes
  • Metalworking
  • Stenciling
  • Flower Drying and Pressed Flowers
  • Gourd Craft
  • Soap making
  • Candle making
  • Basketry

Part Six: Recreation at Home And in the Wild includes:

  • Old-time Good Times
  • Crafting a Mountain Dulcimer
  • Celebrating Holidays
  • Canoeing And Kayaking
  • Wilderness Camping
  • Outdoors in Winter
  • Fishing
  • Living With Nature

Also included is a Appendix that lists organized Assistance: The Extension Services and Other Groups and an Index.

I thought you would enjoy seeing the quilt pages from Back to Basics.



And these are the quilt blocks my nine year old daughter made.



Back to Basics can be purchased from a bookstore or borrowed from the library.


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