Submission opportunity,  creative ways for kids to experience the Mid-1800s when the writer Elizabeth Fries Ellet visited Minnesota in 1852.

Beat the Bushes, Poke Around’s meaning is to look everywhere, search and discover things you don’t know about early Minnesota in books, on the internet and with experiments and projects you create.

That’s what Ellet did in Minnesota, retelling her experience in her book Summer Rambles in the West, she left no stone unturned and ventured out in the wilds with the men on her tour, to new areas most women wouldn’t go

Following is a list including areas of research and opportunities to make projects at home during the summer months: like scrapbooks of your own plant cuttings from a pioneer kitchen garden you can plant, cut-out dolls of what women wore in the 1850s, preparing a Sioux meal, discovery nature walks at the EFEIT, and more projects.  Spring, Summer and Fall are a wonderful times to walk the EFEIT as an inspiration for at-home projects. Share your projects with your classmates when you return to school in the fall. 

Winning projects will be featured at

Here are some ways to experience the Mid-1800s when Elizabeth Fries Ellet visited Minnesota.

You can find  examples of different habitat, flora and fauna at the Elizabeth Fries Ellet Interpretive Trail at the Richard T. Anderson Conservation Area, Eden Prairie and online at

Projects: Ways to Experience the Mid-1800s

  1. Understanding that each biome (habitat) has specific flora, fauna, insects, pick a biome and create a chart containing images you’ve designed of plants, animals, birds, insects and trees of that biome/habitat.
  2. Create a historical timeline of the Mdewakanton Native Sioux Indians. What did they teach their new Minnesota residents?
  3. Make traditional Native foods like Fry Bread and name the herbs and plants the Mdewakanton Sioux ate, bring samples to your class.
  4. In the late 1800s when Ellet traveled to the Midwest, Victorian “travel etiquette” was in place. What was it exactly? Did Ellet follow it? How does it compare to now? Make an etiquette chart.
  5. What did women of the mid-1800s wear when traveling? Corsets and pantalets, boots with wooden bottoms, what else? Make Pioneer cut-out dolls.
  6. How did Minnesotans of the 19th century travel and what form of travel did they use most? Create a diagram.
  7. Create a cardboard model of how a daguerreotype (camera), researching and explaining the lengthy process.
  8. What shoes did Minnesota pioneers wear? Do research into handmade wooden clogs and discover why there are few samples of shoes from that period.
  9. Godey's Lady's Books—Ellet was often published in what could be referred to as a Women’s Home Journal. Two well-preserved books from the 1850s were donated by Vicki Pellar Price to the Eden Prairie Historical Society and can be viewed by appointment at the Eden Prairie City Center. Images from the book are also on the Elizabeth Fries Ellet Interpretive Signs at the Richard T. Anderson Conservation Area and online at Writers Rising Up. Note that Poe, Emerson, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Stowe, and many other famous writers were also published in Godey's Lady's Books.
  10. Create your own journal article reflecting aspects of what your life was like as an early Minnesota Pioneer in a story with images.
  11. Make a model of a flatboat, keelboat, modes of travel on the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers for tourists, shipping and general travel in the 19th century.
  12. Cartography, make a map of a particular area (biome/habitat) you explored, naming trees and plants and their habitat.
  13. Bird and Insect Watch: Bring your cell phone and camera and capture images of the insects, birds, or bird nests you see. Create an ongoing diary of visits to present to your class. Let them know what you learned.
  14. Rock Hunting in Minnesota, here’s where to go: (Make a rock Diary) (Would take locations from this) USE DNR reference only

No further reproduction or distribution of this copy is permitted by electronic transmission or any other means.

A book about Elizabeth Fries Ellet by Vicki Pellar Price and Susan Thurston-Hamerski is currently being considered by a  Minnesota Publisher. This project list is included in the book.

  • Submission is $10.00 entry fee
  • No more than 5 images.
  • No more than 1500 words
  • Please include sources for historical references
  • If you’re in school, please tell us what grade and school you go to
  • Only one project submission at a time.
  • Each submission is $10.00
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