Over the River, and Through the Wood

It is Thanksgiving week in the United States. Many people love this holiday because they can spend time with their family and share favorite foods. It is also a time to think of all the things for which we are grateful. Which holidays are your favorite? Do you spend time with friends or family at Thanksgiving? What is your favorite food to eat?

In 1844, Lydia Maria Child wrote a poem for a children’s magazine called Flowers for Children. Lydia Maria Child was one of America’s first well-known women writers. She was a famous for writing cook books and house help books. She also wrote articles and books about why America should not have slavery. Her poem was called, “A New England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day.” Lydia wrote the poem about the things she remembered when visiting her grandparents as a little girl.

wagon ride

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

snowy woods

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.

snowy barnyard

Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!

ox in snow

Over the river, and through the wood,
to have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ding!”,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.”


Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Lydia’s poem has stayed popular for over one hundred and seventy years. Through the year’s people have changed some of the words and even made a song out of the poem. Some people sing it as, “to Grandmother’s house we go,” instead of Grandfather’s house. Either way, it’s a fun poem to make us think about our own favorite things about Thanksgiving Day.

We hope everyone in your family has a wonderful Thanksgiving this year!


Would you be my Valentine?


This week is Valentine’s Day! This is the day we tell our friends and family how much we care about them!  Sending Valentine’s Day cards is one way to tell someone they are special. It is very traditional—that means people have sent Valentines to each other for a long time. The first Valentines were homemade. When you liked someone, you wrote a special note or poem for them on Valentine’s Day. Valentine poems could be very sweet or funny. This is a romantic Valentine poem from long ago. Do you like it? It’s a bit silly, like the card at the top of this post.

“Look how the blue-eyed violets
Glance love to one another!
Their little leaves are whispering
The vows they may not smother.
The birds are pouring passion forth
In every blossoming tree;–
If flowers and birds talk love, lady,
Why not we?”

Some valentines were also teasing; these were called “vinegar” Valentines. They had sour poems, just like vinegar. This is a vinegar Valentine poem from 1900.

“The smile that on your face appears,
Stretching your mouth to meet your ears,
You think, no doubt, as sweet as honey,
Whereas, dear girl, it’s only funny.”


Buying a card in a store for your Valentine started in the 1840s. Esther Howland, a woman from Massachusetts, opened the first factory in America to make Valentine cards. She doesn’t seem very happy in this photo, does she? I wonder if someone sent her a vinegar Valentine?Esther_Howland_Valentine_card,__Affection__ca._1870s[1]

Esther’s cards were made out of paper lace and printed pictures. They were very fancy.  People loved them! But you still had to write your own poem for the inside. Click here to learn more about Esther.

Catherine Haven
Catherine Haven was a little girl who grew up in New York City over 160 years ago! She was 13 years old in the year 1850. She wrote in her diary on February 15, 1850, “When I grow up, I think I shall have a beau, and his name is Sam B. and he lives across the street, for he sent me a valentine he painted himself, and it is a big red heart with an arrow stuck through it, and one of my school friends says that means he is very fond of me, but I don’t see much sense in the arrow.”  A beau is a fancy name for a boyfriend! You can read more about Catherine here.

At Living History Farms, there are lots of friends who care about each other. Many of these friends have fur and feathers! If our farm animals could send Valentine cards to each other, what would they say? Can you help us make up Valentine poems and notes for our animals?

horse nudging (2)

What would a draft horse say to his partner in a farm Valentine? Maybe, “let’s pull together”? or “You’re a great neigh-bor”?


How about a calf to his mama? How about “Mom, you are udderly amazing!” maybe “you moo-ve me”?

piglets (2)

Would this little pig tell his Valentine that she’s his special “squeal”? or “hogs and kisses”?


Would this calf send a Valentine saying, “I love Moo!”?

Write your own farm animal Valentine and share it with us in the comments!