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20812 Homestead Rd
De Smet, SD 57231



Ingalls Homestead Activities

Covered Wagon Ride

At Ingalls Homestead you learn about Laura Ingalls Wilder and pioneer history by participating in a variety of activities.  Try driving the covered wagon and twisting hay sticks.  Make a jump rope and a corn cob doll to take home with you.  Participate in the one-room schoolhouse session to learn about what school was like for children living in Dakota Territory in the 1880s.  Everything offered is hands-on and children are encouraged to touch and feel.  

Driving the Covered Wagon

Covered Wagon Ride
The covered wagon ride is often the highlight of a visit to Ingalls Homestead. Every visitor gets a chance to drive the team of horses or mules.  The covered wagon ride takes visitors across the prairie to the one-room schoolhouse. 


Make a Jump Rope
While not a featured in the Little House books, everybody gets a chance to make a jump rope from bailing twine.  These handy machines became popular at the end of the 20th century as more farmers mechanized and began using balers. 

One-Room School House
When visiting the one-room schoolhouse, girls can wear pinafores and bonnets and boys straw hats. The teacher presents a blend history and stories with examples of lessons and activities students would have performed in a normal school day.

Shelling an Ear of Corn

Corn Cob Doll
Before Ma made Laura's rag doll Charlotte, Laura played with a corncob wrapped in a handkerchief.  Each visitor shells an ear of corn with our old-fashioned corn sheller, then swaddle it in a 'blanket' and take it home.

Using the Washboard

Washing Clothes
Amazingly washing clothes is always a favorite activity for kids visiting the Ingalls Homestead.  The steps are simple wash clothes on a washboard, rinse, send it through the wringer and hang it on the line.  We use lye soap made right here on the Ingalls Homestead.  While Ma's wash day was Monday, we wash clothes every day.

Hay Twisting from The Long Winter

Hay Twisting & Wheat Grinding from The Long Winter
The Long Winter tells the story of how the Ingalls family and De Smet residents survived the winter of 1880-1881 when the trains could not bring in supplies.  They twisted hay into sticks for fuel to burn and ground seed wheat into flour to make bread.

Driving the Pony Cart

Drive a Pony Cart
In addition to the covered wagon ride, children are able to drive a pony cart and ride in a saddled horse as we lead it.  Our friendly ponies are perfect both for children's first encounter with horses or for more seasoned riders.


How long does a visit take?

Most families spend half a day visiting.  However, all the activities are at your own pace and you may stay as long as you like.  If you're on a tight schedule and need to head on down the road, most of the activities can be done in about 2 hours. 


Is there a schedule for the covered wagon ride and other activities? 

All the activities and the covered wagon ride are ongoing throughout the day.  The first covered wagon ride leaves around 10AM and last ride leaves at 6PM, with rides leaving throughout the day.  When you visit, you move through the exhibit buildings and activities at your own pace.